Planned as a gathering spot for guests at the McKinley Chalet Resort, the design of Denali Square manages to take all the great things about a hotel lobby (a community center, a delivery system for pride of place, a communications hub, and a comfortable place to relax and people-watch) and move them outside. And when the light lingers past 11 p.m. and the air is fragrant with evergreen and mountain cool, you definitely want to be outside. A generous deck area allows you to listen to live music while dining or enjoying a cocktail. Inviting fire pits circled by chairs are scattered in the clearing (s'mores, please!). A covered two-sided stage offers live music in the evenings on one of its faces and ranger-talks during the day on the other. Shops, a theater, and an artist’s workshop surround the outdoor space. Inside the main building, the 7,800-square-foot Karstens Public House could take its status as the only game in town as a bland way out, but instead offers seriously good food with a well-considered sense of the surrounding: local craft brews, reindeer sausage, bison burgers, and a thick, roastedvegetable soup so delicious that I’m trying to replicate it at home. I doubt I’ll ever capture the lovely sense of enjoying it outdoors, under high mountains and northern summer light.
Ann Shields traveled to Alaska and the Yukon with Holland America Line as part of AFAR’s partnership with the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), whose members provide travelers with unparalleled access, insider knowledge, and peace-of-mind to destinations across the globe. For more on Ann’s journey, visit the USTOA blog.