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Roadtrippin’: Finding a piece of Alaska paradise in Seward yurt village

Group of 11 yurts is among highlights of Seward inn owners’ offerings
Updated: Jun. 4, 2021 at 6:25 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - If people are looking for a unique experience with Alaska accommodations without having to spring for a hotel room, there’s at least one small business in Seward that’s got that type of travel in mind.

Nauti Otter Inn, just within Seward city limits, has different types of places for various kinds of travelers to stay. Among them, a short trek off the main highway, is a yurt village that the inn’s owners built from the ground up, starting just a few years ago.

“It’s not exactly camping” said Heather Davis, owner and operator of the Nauti Otter Inn. “We consider it ‘glamping.’ All the yurts have bedding — comfy bedding — heat, electricity, and there’s a bathhouse, so it’s the best of both worlds.”

Davis, who is a teacher by trade, arrived in Alaska more than a decade ago, she said, leaving Texas and finding a job at a local inn in Seward. For her hours, the owners allowed her and her sister to stay at that inn as their housing.

She would later end up taking care of the inn for a winter, which eventually turned into an offer from the owner to purchase it for herself.

A few years after the purchase of the inn, the opportunity to purchase some land in another part of town came about. That would become the future home of the yurt village, run by the Davises, who married in 2016 and operate the entire inn to this day.

The plot of land the yurt village is on used to be covered in thick brush and forage, according to its owners. Today, it’s only partly cleared out, with the environment in mind and only spaces for yurts, a fire pit and a couple other common areas cleared away.

Last year proved difficult for the operators here, as it did for most businesses, but there was a bright spot for the Davis family: people desperately wanted to get out and about. In the yurt village, they could do just that, all while enjoying their own space in individual yurts. Some offer space for just one or two people; others have space for four or more, and all are equipped with bear safety equipment and other amenities.

“We ended the season busier than we have ever been at this location,” Heather Davis said.

With 11 different yurts, three of which are two stories, and each one offering a somewhat different experience from the others – consider the names such as Grizzly Grotto and Starfish Studio – the hope is that people will not only have an enjoyable visit but also want to return again in the years to come.

“It’s so fun to go (online) and find everything that goes along with every theme,” Heather Davis said. “We have the Sea Lion Shanty, Salmon Shack, Halibut Hut, Puffin Pad. No matter which one you pick, you’ll have a unique experience.

“A lot of times people say, ‘We want to get married here, next year we want a family reunion here,’” she added. “It does bring people together. It’s a pretty special place.”

Along with the tidy yurts scattered along a winding trail, there’s also room in the common spaces for grilling out, campfires, foosball, gathering and kicking back in the open area or under a large awning that’s been in place since before the Davises owned the land.

Nauti Otter Inn offers accommodations in campers, yurts, cabins, an inn and a hostel. To learn more about the Nauti Otter Inn, as well as each of the yurts in the yurt village, check out the business’ main website.

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