Checking In: Mountain Sky Hotel
18 Apr, 2012
A home away from home. For the past month, that was the Mountain Sky Hotel in Valdez, Alaska. It came with all the amenities you expect from a hotel; complimentary breakfast, coffee, comfy beds, swimming pool, hot tub and daily cleaning service. But it also came with a new watering hole called the 32° Lounge and Grill that became the hub for gathering each evening.
Located right in the center of Valdez, the Mountain Sky Hotel was walking distance to everything you needed from bars to restaurants to grocery stores. It was still a good 40 miles to Thompson Pass where the Flow Tailgate AK experience was taking place but it offered a retreat with running water, laundry and warm beds each evening.
I arrived in Valdez a week prior to the start of Flow Tailgate AK and used the quiet time to finish up work in my hotel room and wander around the town of Valdez. It was the perfect opportunity to take photos of the harbor, figure out which coffee shop was my favorite (Sacred Grounds Expresso was it) and enjoy the calm before the storm.
A month in a hotel can be quite a long time but surprisingly the time at Mountain Sky Hotel went by quickly once everyone arrived. My room was basically a place to sleep, change and occasionally hang out in. I found myself working on my laptop in the restaurant and bar thanks to the amazing staff that made sure my tea, coffee or PBR was always full.
For the first week of Tailgate, I shared a room with Pam Robinson (A-Rob’s mother). I had never met A-Rob but I knew of his snowboarding talents and we had many friends in common. By the second week, my own room was needed and I was able to get some much needed sleep and down time.
During the few down days, the Mountain Sky was packed with RV’s and trucks coming down from the pass. The bar became the hangout area for sharing photos and stories from each day with an influx of people from pros to photographers to VIP’s who hung out each evening.
The final Tailgate AK party had a perfect home at the Mountain Sky Hotel and everyone joined together to watch the final Championship video and cast their votes on who would win. It was the ultimate night out in Valdez with a great crew of people.
The newly opened 32° Lounge and Grill ended up being most of my meals. Occasionally we’d spread out around town for a dinner but I kept coming back to the seafood chowder, fields green salad and fish and chips located on the first floor of the hotel. By the time the trip ended, I had gotten to know many of the servers and staff working at the hotel and restaurant by name.
By the time I left Valdez, it was truly like leaving home. Thanks to Jeremy for all his hard work and making sure the Mountain Sky Hotel was home for everyone, Gilly and Valerie for welcoming everyone into the restaurant and all the amazing people I met at Mountain Sky the past month. It was really fun to share it with you.