Member Spotlight: The Nauti Otter Inn and Yurt Village

Q&A With Heather and Clint Davis of The Nauti Otter Inn, Cabins and Hostel

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.

Recent construction of the Yurt Village has nearly doubled the size of the Nauti Otter Inn, located just outside of Seward at Mile Post 5.  The Nauti Otter Cabins and Hostel offers inexpensive lodging from dorm style bunks to vintage campers to rustic cabins.  One mile away lies the Yurt Village nestled in a forest reminiscent of childhood fairytales.
 
We recently sat down with Heather to learn more about the journey she has taken as a small business owner in Seward.
Co-owners Heather and Clint share their love of Seward with their guests. Photo Courtesy of Nauti Otter Inn.

What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

Guests love the quirky feel of the inn and the fairytale vibe of the yurt village. Both locations are set up to encourage mingling of travelers. Many have made life-time friends from their time at the Nauti Otter. We have nightly bonfires with s’mores, family-style group dinners, group hikes and various other activities planned to encourage guest interaction.

What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?

I first visited Alaska during the summer of 2008.  Being a school teacher, I took the whole summer to have an “Alaskan Adventure.”  I flew into Anchorage from Texas the day school was out, bought a car and drove to Seward.  I found the Seward Highway location where the owner allowed me and my cousin to work at the inn in return for housing.  When the summer was over, the owner asked me if I wanted to stay all winter as a caretaker. I said “Yes!”, resigned from my teaching position in Texas, flew home, packed bags, and started the journey back to Alaska.  After a few months, the owners offered to sell the inn and I gladly accepted! In 2016 I found my first mate and married Clint. We now own and manage the properties together and hope everyone falls in love with Alaska as much as we have!

Quirky Cabins make guests’ stay in Seward unforgettable. Photo Courtesy of Nauti Otter Inn.

Tell us about a product or service that you’re particularly proud of.

We are super excited about finishing the construction of the Yurt Village. It took a lot of hard work to create a fairytale atmosphere in the forest.


What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

“The stay at the Nauti Otter was our most memorable experience in Alaska”. “This is the coolest place we’ve ever stayed!”

Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.

When we purchased the yurt village property, we had to choose between being safe and starting with a few yurts or go all the way and purchase 12 yurts. We’re glad we decided to go big because we have been filled almost to capacity since the season started.

What advice would you give to a new business owner who is working to build a business like yours?

Take chances! When I first bought the inn, I went about it with an attitude of, “Worst case scenario: I can rent the rooms out to roommates to help with the mortgage”. Fortunately, she was able to rent it to nightly travelers and the business succeeded.
Heather and Clint hope to use Seward as a stunning backdrop for destination weddings in the future. Photo Courtesy of Nauti Otter Inn.


What do you like most about living and working in Seward?

Seward is a beautiful town with a close knit community. We also enjoy the laid back lifestyle.

Tell us about a community member in Seward who you admire.

I admire Rissie Casagranda. She’s a mom, a hard worker, owns her own business, serves as a council member and cares about the city. She went above and beyond to help us find a new property to purchase when we wanted to expand our business.  When we couldn’t find property in Seward, she even drove us to Homer to look there. She stomped through feet of snow, while FaceTiming us during the winter to show us various properties.

How do you spend your free time?

Clint and I travel as much as we can and enjoy seeing what this world as to offer. We love Mexico and the Carribean!Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Thorn’s Showcase Lounge! They created a drink for us called the “Nauti Otter” which is printed on the menu.If your life was a book, what would the title be?

Nauti by Nature – The Davis AdventuresThere are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

We want to visit Katmai State Park and view the bears!

Is there anything exciting on the horizon that you’d like to share?

We are thinking about partnering up with Marathon Helicopters and offering wedding packages. We have our first wedding this summer. If all goes well, you will find us all over the US offering destination wedding packages.

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Feature Image: Sunlight plays on the roof of the fairytale Yurt Village. Photo Courtesy of Nauti Otter Inn.

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For more information about The Nauti Otter click here or call (907) 491-2255.

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051.

Member Spotlight: Flynn Fotography

Q&A With Kally (Flynn) DiMarzio of Flynn Fotography

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.

Kally (Flynn) DiMarzio is a wedding and family photographer, specializing in adventure elopements and small intimate weddings. Born and raised in Juneau, she turned her love of photography from a hobby into a business, and in 2012 Flynn Fotography was born. From local families updating their family portrait, to a couple from the Midwest eloping to Alaska to tie the knot on a glacier, to a couple from the other side of the Peninsula who are planning a wedding with 20 of their closest friends and family; her clients are go-with-the-flow and up for anything, which is how Kally creates works of art encapsulating special moments in each photo.

We recently sat down with Kally to learn more about the journey she has taken as a small business owner in Seward.

An avid adventurer, Kally uses the natural scenic beauty of Alaska to create lasting memories for her clients. Photo Courtesy of Flynn Fotography.

What do you like most about living and working in Seward? 

I am a life-long Alaskan girl, raised in Juneau.  I love LOVE. I love LOVE stories. I love my husband. I love adventuring. I love camping and fishing. I love trail running with my dogs in the rain. I love yoga. I love good lighting. I mean, I really love good lighting. I really love capturing love and life by way of photography. Seward is one of the few places where all of my loves coexist. 

How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?

A boy brought me to Seward; I met my husband Ken in Juneau and we started our journey to Seward in April of 2016. We opened business as a new charter company, Seward Maritime, with our boat, Point Retreat. We primarily work with Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking to take visitors into the Kenai Fjords National Park. Along with helping to manage the charter company, I’m building a client base for my photography business in Seward.

Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.

Starting the business itself was a risk. It’s been six years now and I’m happy I took the risk.

Whether it’s family portraits or weddings, Kally captures natural and scenic moments. Photo Courtesy of Flynn Fotography.

What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

My specialty is small outdoor intimate weddings and elopements. I am so lucky to have the greatest clients that are open for anything. I have been known to jump in and play hairstylist, makeup artist, chauffeur, wedding planner, even the officiant! Whatever it takes.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

During my first few years of business in Juneau, before moving to Seward, the community voted and awarded me 1st Place as “Juneau’s Favorite Photographer”. That reassured me that I made the right choice in starting Flynn Fotography.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

The trails in and around Seward are spectacular. I’m happy on any trail with my pups and husband.

Feature Image: Kally’s eye for beauty creates stunning photographs with a natural backdrop. Photo Courtesy of Flynn Fotography.

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For more information about Flynn Fotography, click here or call 907.723.6195.

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Member Spotlight: The Veggie Bus

Q&A With Jeff Babbit of Alaskan Homegrown’s Veggie Bus

It’s often said that people make the place, and we couldn’t agree more. Our new spotlight series introduces you to Seward Chamber of Commerce members who make our community an incredible place to live, work and play.

Owner Jeff Babbit runs Alaskan Homegrown; a 30 acre, off-grid farm located in Kasilof with less than 10 staff members. He started in 2006 and has grown to include 26 greenhouses which provide much of the vegetables for sale in the Veggie Bus, which is the first mobile farmer’s market in Alaska. The Veggie Bus travels around the Kenai Peninsula selling produce from his farm, as well as organic pork and eggs from a neighbor’s farm, and other homemade products from local artisans and producers.

We recently sat down with Jeff to learn more about the journey he has taken as a small business owner in Seward. 

Jeff Babbit brings his Veggie Bus to Seward every weekend year-round. Photo Courtesy of The Veggie Bus

How long have you lived in Seward? What first brought you here?

I live in Kasilof, but the Veggie Bus has been coming to Seward for some time. We are happy to announce a regular schedule this summer. The Veggie Bus will be in the parking lot near The Cup coffee shop on the Seward Highway year-round every Friday from 11 am until 6 pm and Saturday from 11am until 3 pm.

What makes your business special or unique? In other words, what are you known for?

Well, growing veggies in Alaska is pretty unique! As the summer progresses, you’ll find more and more vegetables and fruits available from Kasilof. In the meantime, we’re supplementing what we do have with eggs and meat from Lisa Rae’s farm in Kasilof, along with year-round produce like potatoes, turnips, potatoes and more.

Tell us about a product that you’re particularly proud of.

Our lettuce is the best product. We can grow and have available 100 pounds of lettuce a day all the way until late September!

Lettuce grows at Alaskan Homegrown farm through late September! Photo Courtesy of The Veggie Bus

What would people be surprised to learn about your business or your journey as a business owner?

Ten years ago, a friend and I started the first farmer’s market in Soldotna with just two vendors. It took a lot of work, but now it’s grown to over 60 businesses participating with live music and entertainment. I’m hoping I can recreate that in Seward and am looking for vendors and farmers to join in!

Describe a risk that you’ve taken in your business that paid off.

Buying the Veggie Bus was a huge risk. At the time, it was a lot of money, but now I have a mobile market and can reach a lot more people in communities all over the peninsula.

Yellow beets are a local favorite from the farm. Photo Courtesy of The Veggie Bus

What do you like most about working in Seward?

Seward is such a great small town and the community has been incredibly warm, friendly and supportive. I appreciate people going out of their way to support local produce.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

Customers tell me a trip to the Veggie Bus is “fresh and friendly”!

Tell us about a community member in Seward who you admire.

I’m not very good at the technology side of things, so I really appreciate all of the locals who have created Facebook posts on Seward Events or Seward Services to get the word out when the Veggie Bus is in town.

How do you spend your free time?

HaHA! Farmers don’t have free time; something always needs to be done!

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Tony’s Bar has friendly bartenders and is great for an after work drink. The Zimmerman’s at The Highliner have been so helpful and kind to me and their food is delicious. The Highliner and The Cookery are serving up products from the Veggie Bus too!

Is there anything exciting on the horizon that you’d like to share?

There is a lot of interest in starting a farmers market in Seward. I’m still looking for vendors, and hope to get enough contacts to make this happen next summer. Get in touch with me if you or someone else is interested in creating a locally sourced food and artisan market in Seward!

Feature Image: Welcome to Alaska’s first mobile farmers market! Photo Courtesy of The Veggie Bus.

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For more information about The Veggie Bus click here.

Want more information about Seward or our Chamber of Commerce? Call 907.224.8051.