Tutka Bay Lodge - Luxury Alaskan Style
Tutka Bay Lodge - Luxury Alaskan Style

by Anne Z. Cooke

It's hard to put a label on Tutka Bay Lodge, in the southwestern corner of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula.

But it's easy to see why the lodge has earned so many accolades.

A short but scenic boat ride from Homer, the lodge's expansive acreage, bayside views, terraced decks and award-winning cuisine would put any five-star resort to shame.

Some might call it a bed-and-breakfast.

Travelers checking in at the homey log lodge or unpacking their bags in one of six rustic bungalows describe it that way. But it's the rugged setting -- the wildlife guides in the Alaskana Library, the whales in the bay and the pamphlets advertising bear watching nearby -- that speak the loudest.

Hiker sees where Tutka Bay meets Kachemak Bay and Cook Inlet beyond. Tutka Bay Lodge Alaska
Tutka Bay Lodge - Luxury Alaskan Style

Tutka Bay Lodge, at the foot of the glacier-capped Kenai Mountains, is surrounded by wilderness. Kachemak Bay State Park, on its border, is a vibrant ecosystem, its finger-like fiords harboring a thriving population of birds, whales, sea lions, porpoises, seals and sea otters.

The combination offers no better and certainly no more stellar introduction to Alaska.

At the lodge, six inviting bungalows sleep from three to seven people each, ideal for a family vacation. For active guests, there's guided fly-fishing, sea kayaking, birding tours and hikes to the Harding Ice Field. Casual activities range from berry picking and nature walks to clamming and beachcombing.

For best mates, girlfriends and anniversary couples Tutka Bay Lodge does smash-up weekend getaways.

Padded deck chairs, chef-prepared meals, a hot tub soak or a massage and a turn in the wood-fired sauna contribute to an unhurried experience.

The bungalows, paneled in pine, are decorated with puffy quilts, Alaskan art, a hair dryer, coffeemaker and mini-fridge. Each has a private bath with shower. And, rare for a place like this, satellite television and high-speed Internet access.

Guest chalets have floor to ceiling window views of Tutka Bay. Tutka Bay Lodge Alaska
Tutka Bay Lodge - Luxury Alaskan Style

Some tours are optional, available through outside outfitters. As such, they are charged separately.

Photographers like the flight-seeing tours. But bear watching and saltwater fishing trips are the most popular.

The first, also a flight trip, crosses Cook Inlet to land at neighboring Redoubt Bay Lodge, where the bears gather to gorge themselves on spawning salmon.

The fishing, for salmon and halibut, includes the motor launch, fishing gear, lunch and snacks. You can have your catch flash-frozen and mailed to you, or stored until you pick it up. Or leave it in a frozen locker at the airport and check it in with your luggage on your flight home.

Enjoying fresh oysters and wine on the deck of Tutka Bay Lodge. Tutka Bay Lodge Alaska
Tutka Bay Lodge - Luxury Alaskan Style

For many years, John and Nelda Osgood owned and ran Tutka Bay Lodge. Recently retired, they sold it to Kirsten and Carl Dixon, lodge owners with 20 years in the business. If you're a frequent visitor, be assured. They love it for itself, and say they plan very few changes.

A water view of Tutka Bay Lodge's dock, decks, and cottages. Tutka Bay Lodge Alaska
Tutka Bay Lodge - Luxury Alaskan Style

Situated on a ten-acre property, Tutka Bay Lodge offers a main lodge, six private guest accommodations, a sauna, hot tub and boat house -- all connected by a boardwalk. The large deck offers seating as well as an area for helicopter landing

Rates per person are $3,365 for a four-day/four-night stay. A one-night stay is $1,370. Included are round-trip airfare from Anchorage to Homer, ground and water taxi from the Homer airport to the lodge, lodging, meals, most beverages, lodge-based recreation, guide service and sports equipment. Children under 12 pay 2/3 the adult rate.

The lodge is on Tutka Bay, on the Kenai Peninsula, 125 air miles from Anchorage.

Go to www.withinthewild.com