Member Spotlight: Kayak Adventures Worldwide

Q&A With Trent Gould of Kayak Adventures Worldwide

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.

Kayak Adventures Worldwide runs small group, private and family-friendly sea kayak tours in Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords National Park. They emphasize stewardship of the natural areas they guide in and inspire guests to join in taking an active role in preserving Alaska’s natural beauty.

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

Owner Trent Gould enjoys Alaska’s wilderness and sharing it with visitors from around the world. Photo Courtesy of KAW

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

I moved here 7 years ago to guide for Kayak Adventures after guiding all over the world from Africa to Taiwan. The incredible access to wildlife and wild places, and the opportunities we have to connect guests to them is so unique. When I arrived in Seward, I knew immediately that this place was special.


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

Our emphasis on family-friendly tours is something we really believe in and that sets us apart. We take kids as young as 6 years old on all of our tours and we run Private Family Tours for any group with kids younger than 14 at no extra charge. That way families can move at their own pace, focus on what they are excited about, and not worry about keeping up with the rest of the group. We recognize that it’s already challenging to travel with children and we want to make it as easy and enjoyable as we can. Plus we love inspiring the curiosity and wonder that we have for this place in adventurers of all ages, but especially in kids. Because we take so many families out on Private Family Tours, our guides are more experienced in working with kids. They are really wonderful at engaging with and inspiring them.

 

Kayak Adventures prides itself on being family-friendly. Photo Courtesy of KAW

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

Our Aialik Glacier Day Trip is a great example of how we’re able to show people unique places, teach them about the natural world, and hopefully motivate them to look at their environmental impact a little differently. After finishing the day with us, many of our guests remark about how transformative an experience it was. It was more than just a paddling tour, but a really powerful wilderness experience. There are a lot of reasons we are able to do this. The intimate nature of taking a small water taxi, rather than a large tour boat, really changes the feel of wildlife viewing. We frequently detour to check out wildlife and stop to observe humpbacks or orcas. Our guides are with their guests every minute of the day so our visitors start learning before they even leave the Seward harbor. After some pretty unparalleled wildlife viewing opportunities, from Steller Sea Lions on No Name Island to tufted puffins near the Cape of Aialik, we tuck up into Aialik Bay where the water is often glassy & calm. The next part of the day is a 3-4 hour paddling excursion to Aialik Glacier. Our guides are knowledgeable about glaciation, wildlife, history, and geology, so our tours have an educational theme. Eating a Zudy’s sandwich while watching (and listening to) the largest and most actively calving glacier in the park is also a major highlight! When guests return, just in time for happy hour and dinner in Seward, they learn about our Kayak. Pick. Give. partners. They leave with an understanding of what we at Kayak Adventures, and other great organizations, are doing to preserve the magic of the Kenai Fjords.

 

Knowledgeable guides share natural history, historical anectdotes and more. Photo Courtesy of KAW

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

We are the only kayak company in Alaska that is a member of 1% For The Planet. This means we’ve committed to donating 1% of our annual sales to environmental non-profits. Beyond that, we’ve chosen for those recipients to be Alaskan organizations that are working towards important conservation initiatives in our state. Rather than just giving these non-profit groups our donations each year, we ask our guests to participate in this process through our program Kayak. Pick. Give. For each guest we take paddling, we donate $2 on their behalf to the Alaska Conservation Foundation (ACF), the Renewable Energy Alaska Project (REAP), or the North Gulf Oceanic Society (NGOS). Over the past 5 years, we’ve donated over $40,000! Our guides teach guests a bit about each organization and it makes a huge impact. They walk away from their tour with a greater understanding of how they can take action to help protect Alaska’s natural resources. When I first bought Kayak Adventures, we had a strong environmental ethos, but I wanted to take it further. Becoming a member of 1% For The Planet and taking a stance on conservation issues, both in Alaska and globally, has been a big part of my journey with the company. I am excited about all the work we’ve been able to contribute to so far. The future is bright as we continue to be active stewards of this fragile environment.

 

Glacier viewing from a kayak is a humbling experience. Photo Courtesy of KAW

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

We have consistently been listed as the #1 Thing to Do in Seward on Trip Advisor for several years. This is an incredible honor because there are so many wonderful, hard-working tour operators here in Seward and we’re proud to be so highly regarded among them. We are grateful to our guests for spreading the word about their experiences with us and for providing feedback that helps us improve as a company. Customer input is something we take seriously and is definitely an important part of growing a business. Trip Advisor has been a great platform for this, and we’ve benefited when it attracts more fantastic guests whose values align with ours.

 

Dall’s porpoises play in the bow wake of the water taxi. It’s a scenic ride for kayakers out to remote locations. Photo Courtesy of KAW

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

It can be easy to try to appeal to a broad audience, thinking you’ll reach more potential customers as a business. However, I believe it’s more important to take a stand with company values and that we can only be impactful when we truly stick to our principles. Kayak Adventures’ commitment to environmentally conscious tourism and sustainability is more important to us than making a profit. We have found that our environmental ethic resonates with guests who are coming to Alaska for more than just a vacation. They want to make connections with wild places and feel moved by the reverence the fjords and glaciers inspire in them. We market tours with our environmental initiatives at the forefront, which guests recognize and connect with. When our core values align with our guests’ values we are able to purposefully deliver on their adventure goals. By taking a stand on environmental issues and stewardship as a company, we run the risk of turning off customers who do not value our conservation ethic. For example, as members of WhaleSense, we abide by best practices for viewing marine mammals that are more conservative than other whale watching operators. We feel that it has paid off to take a hard left when it comes to environmental issues. Many of our guests are excited about taking that journey with us and learning more about what they can do to help protect the wildlife and wild places we visit.


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

Figure out your WHY. Why are you in business? Why should people care & get behind you? Once you’ve defined your WHY, do not waiver from it. Come back to it anytime you have to make a tough decision.

 

The guides at Kayak Adventures are like family. Photo Courtesy of KAW

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

The community of Seward is one of my favorite things about this town. I love knowing that our business supports others in town, whether it’s through purchasing food, contracting with other operators, repairing equipment, trading services, or just making recommendations to our guests. We put provide opportunities for our staff to engage with the greater Seward community as well. Seward residents define this place as much as the water or the mountains do. It’s important to us to be a part of that fabric.


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

I look up to and admire Ron Niebrugge. I call him the Mayor of Positive-town because he’s relentlessly upbeat and positive. His attitude is contagious and he’s such an uplifting person to spend time with. I admire his courage to take a chance on starting to offer photography tours with his company Alaska Photo Tours. He’s been wildly successful with it. I respect the energy and enthusiasm that he and his wife, Janine, have put into growing their business.


How do you spend your free time?

I love getting outside in the mountains, whether that’s trail running, packrafting, or splitboarding. Whenever I’m not working, I’m hanging with with my 10-year-old pup, Miss Jones.


Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

The trail run up to Lost Lake and back is probably my all-time favorite way of unwinding. It offers some of my favorite views of Seward.


There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

I’ve spent a lot of time in Aialik Bay & Northwestern Fjord. If I was able to go anywhere in Kenai Fjords, I’d love to explore the Nuka Bay Area via sea kayak.


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

We recognize that everything we do has an impact on the planet, particularly when we travel. Although we do our best to minimize this on our tours, we are rolling out a new carbon offset program this year. We hope to mitigate some of the consequences that are difficult to avoid in this industry. Carbon offsets are a method for balancing out carbon emissions globally by reducing an equal amount to the carbon footprint you are offsetting. We are offering optional carbon offsets for $3 per person on all of our trips to Aialik Bay. Before we started this project, I had no idea that one roundtrip journey to Aialik Bay on an 18-passenger boat produces as much carbon emissions as 2,700 pounds of burned coal (or 6,039 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle). Those are big numbers. We want to start a dialogue with our guests about what that means, how carbon offsets work, and how the carbon market is able to benefit landowners, native corporations, and visitors to Alaska. We’re really excited to be providing this new opportunity for our guests as active stewards of our planet.
 
Feature Image: Hear the clang of ice hitting your kayak as you weave your way towards a calving glacier on KAW’s Aialik Day Tour. Photo Courtesy of KAW

***For more information about Kayak Adventures Worldwide call 907.224.3960 or email: fun@kayakak.com.

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

Member Spotlight: Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club

Q&A With the Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club

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.

Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club is a local group that practices on Bear Lake. Most of their members are considered “Master Rowers”, meaning they are 27 or older but some younger members row with them as well. Their season kicks off each June with a “Learn to Row” event to encourage everyone in Seward to see what rowing is all about. During the season, a hired coach lives in Seward and works with the club to perfect their rowing skills. The club also hosts several off-water social events each year as well.

We recently sat down with Sue Faust to learn more about the Kenai Cruisers Rowing Club.

Rowing is for everyone! Photo Courtesy of Kim Kain

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

This is Kenai Crewsers 22nd season! The great, flat water of Bear Lake is what brought us here.


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

Seward is a great community full of upbeat and active people.


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

Rowing is a unique sport that provides a full body workout and is especially good for older people because it is low impact. We are also the only rowing team on the eastern peninsula, and the oldest rowing team in Alaska.
The glassy waters of Bear Lake make for great practice. Photo Courtesy of Kim Kain


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

That although rowing is an excellent upper body and core work out it is mostly all about the legs. We also participate in rowing regattas, or competitions, all over the world. Our club has rowed in Philadelphia, Washington, Oregon, Australia, Italy and most recently Slovenia. We also organize the Seward Holiday Arts and Crafts Fair.


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

Our “Learn to Row” program is a great way for anyone to try out rowing. It is open to anyone who’d like to learn, regardless of their fitness level. Participation in the “Learn to Row” Program also gives you a 50% discount off of membership fees, so come check us out!

Practice with teammates is held indoors and outside. Photo Courtesy of Kim Kain


What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

When people come out to train with us, they have a lot of fun. It’s also good to hear that we have good teamwork.


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

Oh so many! Particularly all the volunteers in our community that give of their time and talents to make Seward a great place to live. Including arts and music, sports, children programs, reading clubs and much much more.

 


Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind with your free time?

Rowing on Bear Lake!


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

Overseas travel with the team. Our most recent rowing trip to Slovenia made for some great adventures.
All equipment is provided, just show up and row! Photo Courtesy of Kim Kain


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

Join forces with others to share in assets and expenses.


If your life was a book, what would the title be?

Up Two in Two!


There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

I would go rowing on Kenai Lake.


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

Our annual regatta, Tail of the Bear, happens on August 17 th , 2019.  It’s hosted by Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club on Bear Lake. Come for food and to cheer us on against other rowing clubs from around Alaska!
 
Feature Image: Rowers enjoy the serenity of Seward surrounded by majestic mountains and blue water. Photo Courtesy of Kim Kain

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For more information about Kenai Crewsers Rowing Club call (907) 201-1872.

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

Mermaid Festival & Harbor Opening Weekend Schedule

Calling all mermaids and mermen!

The Seward Mermaid Festival & Harbor Opening Weekend is back! This is a FREE event featuring Alaska artists and makers, local food trucks, live music, costumes, maritime traditions, and more!

This weekend at a glance:

Friday, May 17: 
– Pirate & Mermaid Pub Crawl (starts at Chinook’s at 7 pm)
– Some festival vendors + food trucks in South Harbor lot (5-9 pm)

Saturday, May 18: 
– Festival vendors + food trucks open in South Harbor lot (10am-6pm)
– Live music (12-5pm)
– Military appreciation BBQ in the harbor plaza (12 pm)
– Blessing of the Fleet at the Mariners’ Memorial (4 pm)

Sunday, May 19: 
– Major Marine Tours Mermaid Cruise
– No festival vendors this day

All Weekend Long: Downtown & Harbor Merchant Crawl

Check out the festival website for more!
https://www.sewardmermaidfestival.com/

Member Spotlight: Orca Island Cabins

Q&A With Dennis and Susan Swiderski from Orca Island Cabins

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.

Orca Island Cabins operates an eco-friendly cabin rental business consisting of eight yurts on a private island and nearby mainland (connected by an 80 ft. footbridge).  Alaskans and visitors can overnight in a truly remote wilderness setting 9 miles from Seward in comfort and style. Accommodations consist of 20-foot-wide yurts each with an overhead skylight, fireplace, french doors, queen bed, futon, kitchen, private bathroom with shower and compost toilet and private deck with barbecue. Guests also routinely observe marine wildlife from their private decks, including Orca and Humpback whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, harbor porpoises and much more.
 
We recently sat down with Dennis and Susan to learn more about the journey their family has taken to build and share Orca Island Cabins.


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

We moved from Anchorage to Seward with our three young sons in 1996. Seward’s charm as small coastal town with picturesque landscapes and seascapes captured our hearts. The many recreational and business opportunities were appealing as well.

Dennis and Susan Swiderski love sharing Orca Island Cabins with visitors from all over the world. Photo Courtesy of OIC

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

Accommodation on a private island in a scenic  and protected cove is a special experience. It is through careful planning and design that we are able to offer comfort and warmth in well-appointed yurts overlooking the ocean and its marine wildlife. Also, our lodging guests also have unlimited access to watercraft like kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, row boats and fishing gear to use whenever they wish. Staying at Orca Island Cabins is an all-inclusive experience where lodging, wildlife viewing and recreational opportunities are enjoyed in one venue.
 
Our location in Humpy Cove, nine miles from Seward, offers unique adventures as well. A 30-minute paddle offers access to a popular salmon-spawning stream. A magnificent waterfall cascades into an elevated pond just above the stream. Another option, a one-hour hike from our property takes you up to a World War II bunker overlooking Resurrection Bay. More casual endeavors include tide pooling and wildlife viewing. Take a walk through the art gallery that display’s Susan’s artwork along with other local artisans. You might even find a guest or two in a yoga pose (yoga mats are available in the art gallery).
Take in stunning views of Humpy Cove and Resurrection Bay. Photo Courtesy of Orca Island Cabins.


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

We are particularly proud of the personalized and family-oriented service we provide our guests. Several of our family members serve in various capacities from boat captain to resident artist to overnight presence on the island. We are a family business which takes pride in providing personalized attention to each guest – a service that our guests appreciate.

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

Construction of comfortable, unique accommodations in a remote wilderness setting provided us many unique experiences. Our guests are surprised to learn: (a) it took 18 years to acquire the 3 separate acres (including the island); (b) the logistical difficulties in building each cabin; (c) the overall layout of the cabins was not predetermined, but simply evolved over time. Each cabin site and boardwalk access had to be closely evaluated since each was so challenging to build; (d) how difficult the design and construction was of the 80 ft. footbridge and (e) how we came up with such a unique lodging concept in such a unique setting.

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

Both the design and construction of the 80′ footbridge that connects the island with the mainland acreage constituted a great risk. Since the island could only support 3 cabins, we needed to access the mainland property in order to erect additional cabins and thereby maximize the use of our property. Now, we marvel at our ability to walk back and forth between the island and mainland property with ease. We are grateful for the possibilities that the bridge has afforded to expand our retreat.

Kayaking at Orca Island Cabins in scenic Humpy Cove on Resurrection Bay, 9 miles southeast of Seward, Alaska

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

At the conclusion of their stay, many of our guests appreciate us sharing our island and island accommodations with them and not building just a cabin for our exclusive use and enjoyment.

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

Prepare to develop over the long term with patience and planning. Also, it’s important to keep one’s expenses at a sufficiently low level.

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

We love Seward because of its coastal setting, friendly residents and the considerable community support we have received over the years.

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

Dot Bardarson is a prominent local artist, community activist/volunteer and friend that we greatly admire.

An impressive footbridge allows easy access from the island to the mainland. Photo Courtesy of Orca Island Cabins

How do you spend your free time?

During the off-season we travel a lot, which is a high priority for us. Susan spends much of her free time painting on commission and for shows as well as creating artwork for the island’s art gallery. Dennis spends much of his time planning for the next season.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Fifth Avenue Fitness, a place to reduce weight and stress.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

Cautious Thinking Outside The Box
 
There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?
 
You’d find us cruising to the waters near and around Nuka Bay.
 
Is there anything exciting on the horizon that you’d like to share?
 
Further additions/improvements to Orca Island Cabins are coming soon and will be somewhat outside the box!
 
Feature Image: A stay at Orca Island Cabins offers guests stunning views of Humpy Cove not only from their private yurts, but also from the water. Photo Courtesy of Orca Island Cabins.

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For more information about Orca Island Cabins or Susan Swiderski’s artwork call 907.362.9014.

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

Member Spotlight: Camelot Cottages

Q&A With Mallory and Levi of Camelot Cottages

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.

Camelot Cottages are a family-run, independent cabin getaway a few minutes drive from the heart of Seward. Serving both local Alaskans and tourists, they provide a tranquil setting that gives people a taste of real Alaska.
 
We recently sat down with Mallory and Levi to learn more about the journey they have taken as a small business owners in Seward.
Mallory and Levi enjoy getting outside and enjoying the natural beauty of Alaska. Photo Courtesy of Camelot Cottages.


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

We have lived in Seward for two years. We became a part of this community in hopes to share our love for Alaska and Seward specifically with those that may only get one chance to experience it.


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

The people are our favorite. We have never been to a place where we have so welcomed and accepted into not just a community, but a family.


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

We are unique because we not only provide lodging in cabins with full bathrooms, but we also work in conjunction with local fishing charter Alaska Dream Charters offering package deals and overnight trips.


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

This business has been staple of the Seward community for over 20 years and we are doing everything in our power to return it to its original glory.
The whole family is happy to be a part of the Seward community. Photo Courtesy of Camelot Cottages.


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

We are particularly proud of our all-inclusive feel. Not only does each cabin have a kitchenette and all the amenities of home, we have multiple fire pits throughout the property, gathering places, and an upcoming game yard that contains horse shoe pits, Giant Jenga and more! Customers never have to leave if they choose.


What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

We have been told it is “refreshing” and “a breath of fresh air in the middle of the woods.”


How do you spend your free time?

We spend our free time FISHING, hiking, hunting and anything outdoors with our kiddo.


Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

Anywhere that has good food, good beer and good company. Usually around a fire pit.


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

We decided to hire local high school students to assist in renovating the cabins and to keep up the property. We couldn’t be prouder of the work they continue to do and pride they show in the business.


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

NETWORK! And mean it when you get to know someone. It’s always nice to know someone you can call if you get in a bind.


If your life was a book, what would the title be?

“The Never Ending Story”


There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

We may hike the Caines Head trail; plan a trip that coincides with the tides along the beach trail to the old military ruins. We would camp there for the weekend either at our own site or rent a public use cabin and hike back the next day on the tide’s schedule.

Feature Image: Rustic cabins dot the Camelot property. Guests enjoy the feeling of a true Alaskan escape. Photo Courtesy of Camelot Cottages.

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For more information about The Camelot Cottages click here or call 907.362.7843.

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

 

Member Spotlight: Dr. Michael Moriarty, DDS

Q&A With Dr. Michael Moriarty, DDS 

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.

Dr. Michael P. Moriarty, D.D.S has been providing general dentistry services to Seward families for over 27 years. The success of his practice is based on a foundation of building relationships.  Taking a family-oriented stance in his practice has led to fourth-generation Seward families travelling from as far away as Wasilla for dental appointments. Keeping in contact with extended families from around Alaska and creating new relationships within Seward and Lowell Point has grown his business over decades.
 

We recently sat down with Dr. Moriarty to find out more about his journey to become Seward’s dentist.

Dr. Moriarty teams up with his wife, Maya, to run a succesful dentist practice in Seward. Photo Courtesy of Dr. Moriarty, DDS.

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

I moved here in 1991 and worked as an associate under Dr. Warren Huss, until I purchased the practice in 2004. I’m an outdoorsman; I loves to fish and hunt and I like the cold! The Alaska climate and culture were a good match for a guy from South Dakota.

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

Seward is a great place to raise a family and to be a part of the community. Our children have been raised by a village; the community is warm and welcoming. We were part of a babysitting co-op that also went on hikes and other adventures together. As for work, I get great pleasure in seeing someone smile!

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

We’re known for exceptional quality work, a conservative approach that focuses on our patients’ needs and a friendly, professional environment. I tell people all the time that I wouldn’t recommend any treatment that I wouldn’t perform on my own mother. We’re also known for being a happy place – we try to stay upbeat and make people smile and laugh.

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

We provide custom-made mouthguards to local athletes at an extreme discount regardless of whether the athlete is a patient. Our focus is on saving teeth.

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

Due to HIPPA regulations, I can’t give specifics, but several times I’ve been educating a patient about a particular topic specific to their situation and they’ve told me no dentist had ever told them that. The fact that I can give people insight into their dental care and make a difference in their lives is a huge compliment. It’s also heartwarming when patients move away from the area and they tell me that their new dentist has complimented them on the work I’ve done in their mouths. Gordon Christenson, a well-known dentist and advocate in the industry, has also complimented my work which means a lot to me.

Dr. Moriarty was inducted as a fellow of the International College of Dentists in 2016 for outstanding service and work in the profession and community. Photo Courtesy of Seward City News.

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

We invest 5%-10% of our profits back in to the community that has been so good to us over the years.

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

Hiring assistants with no experience! I believe it’s easier to teach people the technical side of dentistry than to teach them how to treat people. So I’ve always hired employees for their work ethic and customer service skills, regardless of their knowledge in the field.

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

It’s cliche, but I built my business on giving my best and doing what’s right for the patient.

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

It’s hard to pick one person, so I’ll pick an organization. We are so impressed with the Seward Community Foundation and its support of so many projects and organizations in Seward.

How do you spend your free time?

I spend my free time with family, hunting and fishing.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

My wife and I enjoy walking along the boardwalk and down the bike path along the waterfront. We usually run into friends, meet tourists, catch a glimpse of wildlife, watch the boats enter and exit the harbor or just enjoy the peace and beauty of Seward.

There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

It depends, if it’s fishing season, I like to be on the water dropping a line. If it’s hunting season, you’ll see me hiking up Mt. Alice or the Jeep Trail.

Feature Image: Dr. Moriarty’s team has helped make his business a success. Photo Courtesy of Dr. Moriarty, DDS.

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For more information about Dr. Moriarty’s dental practice, click here or call 907.224.3071.

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

 

36 Hours in Seward: Treat Yourself or Someone Special

seward_winter

Quiet trails and special deals await in Seward this winter!

Winter transforms Seward from a bustling visitor hub to an oasis for Alaskans to play and recharge. To celebrate this special season, we’ve launched our Winter Weekends event series. Enjoy quieter trails, fun activities and special discounts before the crowds return!

For Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend, we’ve developed an itinerary for couples looking for a low-key, luxurious getaway or for individuals and friends looking to melt away stress and rejuvenate their mind, body, and soul.

FRIDAY

Know Before You Go

Seward Highway is generally well maintained, but it’s always a good idea to check the travel conditions before you hit the road. Make sure your winter car emergency kit is well stocked before you leave home.

Click here for a schedule of events for the weekend of Feb. 15–18. We highly encourage booking spa services ahead of your trip for the best availability. 

Evening – Dinner on the Town

Kick-off your weekend escape with a meal that you won’t soon forget. Chef Kevin Lane sources local ingredients at The Cookery (209 5th Ave) to design creative dishes that capture the essence of Alaska. Fact: Foodies from around the state have been known to make a special trip to Seward just for dinner at the Cookery!

The Cookery, Seward Alaska, local food, Alaska produce
Whether it’s local seafood or Alaska grown produce, The Cookery’s inventive dishes never fail to impress. Photo courtesy of The Cookery.

Sip a glass of perfectly paired wine while waiting for your appetizer—the mushroom toast and brussels sprouts are local favorites—and take in local artwork. Dinner specials often highlight fresh seafood and other Alaskan delicacies. 

Between courses, check out incredible art by local artists Bethany WaggonerJustine Pechuzal and Marissa Amor. Your visit to this popular local eatery wouldn’t be complete without trying Chef Kevin’s cream cheese ice cream. Guild the lily by adding bacon. Yes, to your ice cream. Trust us on this. 

Looking to inject a bit of medieval fun into your evening? The Yukon Bar is hosting a Red Wedding-themed party that should appeal to Game of Thrones fans. 

SATURDAY

Morning – Relax to the Max

First, make like a local and head to Resurrect Art Coffee House to enjoy a lovingly-made espresso or rejuvenating tea. Soak up the light streaming in through the historic windows—the building, formerly a church, celebrated its 100th birthday last year—and browse jewelry, ceramics, and other art made by Seward residents. 

Next, it’s time to treat yourself. The Retreat, Seward’s only full-service spa, offers indulgences from manicures to full-body massages. A relaxing Tulasara facial ($85, 60 minutes) will leave your skin hydrated and refreshed. Many of the facials and massages include complimentary use of the sauna to flush toxins and a shower to energize you before heading out into the world. 

Afternoon – Walk, Shop, Lunch

Resurrection Bay, Seward, Alaska
The shores of Resurrection Bay offer a relaxing retreat to rejuvenate your mind and soul. Photo: @behendrixson

Head to historic Fourth Avenue to browse the unique collection of shops in our downtown district. Brown and Hawkins Mercantile offers a selection of handcrafted goods and jewelry made in Alaska. Browse through items such as Tlingit Botanicals health and beauty products or Happy AK headbands in a setting reminiscent of the early 1900s.

Across the street is Seward’s oldest family-owned business, Urbach’s Clothier, which offers unique clothing lines and shoes for men, women, and children. Look for Winter Weekends deals inside, like 30% off select items. 

A few doors to the north, drop into Sew’n Bee Cozy to browse a variety of colorful textiles and enjoy 25% off all red, white and blue fabrics. 

Looking for a treat? Try Frontier Trading Post for practical gifts like JACARA therapeutic skin care, made right here in Seward! Chocolate lovers will appreciate the house-made delights at Sweet Darlings

Stretch your legs with a leisurely walk along the paved waterfront path. A short stroll downtown offers stunning views of the fjords and peek-a-boo vistas of Godwin Glacier across Resurrection Bay. Here, sea lions and seals spy on visitors near the shore and you’ll often find an otter munching on shellfish from the rocky bottom of the bay.

Wanting something more active? Adventure 60 North is offering a half-day sea kayaking trip to lovely Bridal Veil Falls for $138 per person. 

Whether you’re looking for a lighter lunch or something warm and comforting, you’ll find it at Woody’s Thai Restaurant. Named after the iconic SeaLife Center’s playful sea lion, Woody’s offers fresh, nourishing dishes of Southeast Asia. Start with some crisp summer rolls and share some local favorites like the Tom Yum Soup or Penang curry.

Evening – Get Artsy

Paint your heart out at Resurrect Art this weekend!

Dog Song Designs will be hosting Beluga Love Paint Night at Resurrect Art Coffee House & Art Gallery from 6-8:30 pm. 

After fishing your masterpiece, grab a bite to eat at one of Seward’s legendary family restaurants: Thorn’s Showcase Lounge (try the fried halibut) or Apollo Restaurant (known for hand-tossed pizzas and generous salads). 

Not quite ready to call it a night? Just down the block, Shawn LaRose will be playing live tunes at the Yukon Bar. The live show starts at 9 pm. No cover. 

SUNDAY

Morning – Breakfast with Ms. Gene

Start off your day in Hotel Seward’s intimate Victorian lounge by ordering a signature Eggs Benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce at Ms. Gene’s Place (221 5th Ave). With mimosa in hand, you’ll be transported back to Seward’s early beginnings while dining on Chef Aaron’s newly updated menu.

Before leaving town, take a scenic drive down Lowell Point Road. Walk the beach at the Lowell Point State Recreation Site and lose yourself in reflection before heading back to hustle and bustle of the city.

LODGING

Enjoy views of the small boat harbor while soaking in the hot tub or swimming pool at Harbor 360 Hotel. Winter rates start at $119/night, including free breakfast. Inquire about Valentine’s/President’s Day weekend specials.

Kids of all ages will enjoy taking in the wildlife and history display at Hotel Seward. Located in the historic downtown district, you’ll be steps from many shops, the Alaska SeaLife Center, and the Seward Community Library & Museum

Watch eagles nesting in the lagoon from your room in the north addition of the Breeze Inn. Classic rooms are a good fit for budget-conscious travelers starting at $69/night. 

Looking for peace and quiet this weekend?  Serenity by the Sea and Miller’s Landing on scenic Lowell Point offer charming private cabins perfect for couples on a romantic getaway.

Rates listed are based on double occupancy and are subject to change. Contact the hotel directly to make your reservation.

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Have a question about winter activities? Contact the Seward Chamber of Commerce at 907.224.8051. 

Visiting Seward with your family? Check out our 36 Hours in Seward: Winter Fun For Families.

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Feature Image: Resurrection Bay painted with pastels soothes even the busiest of minds. Photo: @toneloke79

Woman Raises Nearly $250,000 for Polar Bear Jump to Fight Cancer

By Kat Sorensen

The article was first published by The Seward Sun on Jan. 25, 2019. It is reprinted here with permission. 

More than 20 years ago, Christy Hill of Homer set off for Girdwood’s Slush Cup but encountered a few problems.

She was months early. And she went to the wrong town.

Hill and a friend found themselves standing along the ramps of the Seward Harbor watching as costumed men and women jumped into the frigid waters of Resurrection Bay.

“We were watching along the ramps and our pants were freezing to our legs, we were freezing,” Hill said. “We thought ‘this is not what we thought it would be at all, but this is fun.’”

As soon as Hill finished the drive back from Seward to Homer, she started fundraising for next year’s event and has been involved in the Seward Polar Bear Jump ever since. Her first jump was in 1999, and this year she’ll be celebrating her 20th year as a plunger.

“My mom is a cancer survivor so when I saw the event, I thought I might as well try it,” she said. “That first year, we all sat on our boat waiting our turn and I was kind of nervous.”

As those torturous moments ticked off, it didn’t help that a diver on hand to assist plungers developed a leg cramp.

“I told my dad, ‘nope, not doing it. No way.’ But the diver got back in the water and so I did it. I jumped,” Hill said. “It was scary, but much less painful and traumatic than anything the cancer patients are going through.”

This year, Hill said she has a longer list of people she’s jumping for including her husband’s adoptive and biological fathers. 

“They both passed away in less of a month of each other,” she said. “That’s a big drive for me. Another friend of mine got cancer last year and is doing great. He is cancer free and back home living his best life … That’s huge of me to see. I want to help find a cure and help families that can’t afford to help themselves.”

The Seward Polar Bear Jump was first held in 1986 and is an opportunity to honor cancer survivors, raise awareness about reducing cancer risk and to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Fundraisers work all year to raise funds, culminating in a quick jump into the bay on the third Saturday of January. 

This year’s jump on Jan. 26 is surrounded by a weekend of fun and festivities throughout Seward. The main event, the jump, starts at 12:30 p.m. at the Seward Harbor on Saturday.

Jumpers dress up in costumes of all types, and after 20 years Hill’s costume closet has grown to include a Gumby costume, a flirty sailor uniform and more. Her fundraising total has been growing over those 20 years too. 

“I’ve been raising money every year. The first year, I raised $1,055 but was in tenth place for fundraisers,” she said. “I’ve been raising more money every year and I’m close to $250,000.”

Hill has had some donors that have been supporting her every year, including Dr. Sue Polis of Homer, Deb Leisek of Bay Realty in Homer and the American Legion. 

This year, Hill has raised about $5,000. She said she’s excited to see some of her fellow jumpers and spend the weekend partaking in the fun activities in Seward. She’s happy, though, that the weather isn’t too frigid.

“The absolute scariest year was the time it was 27 below zero with wind chill,” she said. “It was so cold, the water was in the mid 30s and I made the mistake of wearing a hoodie. When I got out it pretty much froze to my body. It took a long time to get my clothes off after because it was so heavy.”

For Saturday’s jump, Weather Underground is calling for a balmy 35 degrees with a water temperature at about 43 degrees.

“I love doing it, it’s fun,” Hill said. “People tell me I’m crazy, but what else am I going to do to release the winter blues?”

For those looking to shake off the winter blues with this weekend’s festivities throughout Seward a full schedule can on Facebook at Polar Bear Jumpoff Festival.

Read more local news and events on the horizon The Seward Sun

Seward Polar Bear Jump Festival + Winter Weekends Launch

Join us January 25–27 for a weekend full of winter family fun! In addition to the 34th Seward Polar Bear Jump, we’ve got live music, outdoor recreation, lodging specials, and a variety of community events to enjoy. 
 

Schedule of Events

Friday, January 25
 
7:00 PM
Polar Bear Pool Tournament Fundraiser at the Breeze Inn Lounge ($20 entry)
303 North Harbor Dr. 
 
7:30 PM
Polar Bear Jump auction at Tony’s Bar (benefits the American Cancer Society)
135 Fourth Ave.
 
9:30 PM
Blackwater Railroad live at the Seward Alehouse
215 Fourth Ave. 
 
Saturday, January 26
 
11:30 AM
Polar Bear Jump Parade
Start at 5th & Jefferson; main route is along 4th Ave towards the harbor
 
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
301 Railway Ave.
 
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
 
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Kids’ Winter Carnival at AVTEC gym, hosted by Seward Parks & Recreation (Kids 8 and under)
519 Fourth Ave. 
 
5:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Oyster Fest at the Breeze Inn
303 North Harbor Dr.
 
8:30 PM
Karaoke at the American Legion
402 Fifth Ave. 
 
Sunday, January 27
 
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Locks for Love hair donation at the Breeze Inn Motel lobby
303 North Harbor Dr.

Member Spotlight: Seward Properties

Q&A With Nicole Lawrence of Seward Properties

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.

Seward Properties is a Seward-owned real estate company that takes pride in being a contributing member of the community. Since starting in 2013, they have grown to handle sales, property management and vacation rentals in the Seward area.

We recently sat down with Nicole to learn more about the journey she and her team have taken to create and grow Seward Properties.
Owner Nicole Lawrence is celebrating 5 years of Seward Properties serving the community. Photo Courtesy of Seward Properties.

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

I first moved to Seward in 2006 to work as a boat captain for the Military Rec Camp. You could say I moved up here for love; I was dating my now-husband, Colby Lawrence, at the time. I had been a boat captain since 1999 and he convinced me to follow him to Alaska to work for a summer. Colby and I weren’t ready to settle down yet, so at the end of that season, we entered the world of yachting and worked around the world as captains on private yachts for three years. Then, in 2009 we received job offers as captains from Tom Tougas at Major Marine Tours and decided we were ready to spend more time in Alaska and to have a stable lifestyle. I figured we would be here for two years at the most, but now we are at about our 10-year mark and I doubt we will be going anywhere else anytime soon.

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

I am most proud of Seward Properties’ reputation. My team and our clients are amazing and we couldn’t succeed without them. Our company has represented nearly 50% of all the sales transaction in Seward since 2015; plus, we manage over 100 local rentals. It’s amazing to me how the business continues to grow and I have to thank my awesome team and our great community.

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

Overall I think the friendliness, knowledge and full-time availability of our team really helps us stand apart. Plus the amount of real estate services we offer ensures that we can answer just about any real estate question for any housing situation that exists. Having a full-time staff is great because we work as a team to help each other out and we have cumulative knowledge of the local real estate that we are able to share with our clients. Since our services range from sales to property management and even vacation rentals, we can help buyers and sellers through the transition of renting and becoming buyers. We’ve also assisted sellers from the transition of being a landlord to selling a rental property and re-investing in new properties using 1031 tax exchanges. Even if someone isn’t an active client, we love helping answer tricky real estate questions!

Nicole credits the success of her business largely to her year-round team: (L-R) Allyson, Callie, Nicole and Pamela. Photo Courtesy of Seward Properties.

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

Most people are surprised to know that I am a boat captain and have been since 1999. I graduated from University of Michigan in 2003 with a degree in business and a degree in science. However, I never really wanted to settle down and get a “real” job…I just wanted to travel around the world on boats. I did that until I was about 30, and then I was finally ready to settle down and unpack my bags here in Seward. Oh and it’s not really business related but I was on Fear Factor and I think that’s pretty surprising to some people!

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

For people entering into real estate, I would say that you should find a good broker and take a lot of classes. It’s really important that you have good training from someone who has experience. Without sufficient real estate knowledge and someone to ask questions, it’s very difficult to succeed in such a competitive market. Since it is such a word of mouth profession, you need to start out on the right foot and do a good job for every single client. Having a good amount of training, education, and ethical integrity will help ensure your success.

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

I think a big risk that I took was building my own building. We used to rent an office space downtown and after a few years I realized that we needed something more permanent and something that was a better long term investment. I found the perfect piece of land and constructed the building where our office now sits, on the corner of Fourth and Madison. We designed it to have rentals to help cover the cost of the construction and it has worked out well. We love our office!!

What is the best compliment your business has ever received?

The best compliment was receiving the Seward Chamber of Commerce’s “Excellence in Profession” Award after opening up my business. I had no idea how I would do when I started my business. I always strive to be ethical, professional and to go above and beyond for my clients. It’s nice to be recognized as a new business because it’s a lot of work getting up and running and building a reputation for yourself.

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

When I look at what I admire in people, it comes down to three things: they are good-hearted, they go out of their way to help other people and they put time and effort into improving our community. Many people in Seward fit this description, but one that has meant a lot to me is Tom Tougas. I am in Alaska largely because he offered me a job as a captain. Since then, he has been my business mentor and has helped guide my decision-making on numerous occasions. Tom has helped out a lot of businesses in this town in different ways without seeking credit for it. He does it because he enjoys helping our community grow. He’s a great role model.

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

What I enjoy most about Seward is the sense of community and connection that you get in a small town. The longer I live in Seward, the more I fall in love with the people here and develop strong community ties through volunteer work. Seward is a special place and I don’t know of anywhere in the world quite like it. I consider myself lucky to live here.

Where’s your favorite spot in Seward to unwind?

My favorite place to unwind is with a mug of tea on my living room couch with my husband and dogs. He has been one of my biggest supporters with my business and I respect and value his opinion. Plus, I think dogs are the best therapy after a long day at work.

How do you spend your free time?

I spend my free time with my husband, friends and dogs. Seward is one of the most magical places for outdoor recreation. I enjoy various activities from hiking with my three dogs, skate-skiing on Bear Lake, back-country skiing in Summit Lake, kayaking in Resurrection Bay, picking blueberries, four-wheeling up to Crown Point Mine, to snow machining to the public use cabins for a weekend with friends. This place is incredible in every season and you can usually find me outside.

If your life was a book, what would the title be?

Say Yes to New Adventures

There are so many great wilderness areas to explore around Seward and Kenai Fjords. If you had a free weekend, where would you go?

In the winter, I would ski or snow machine into one of the public use cabins. If it were summer, I would probably be out RV-ing with friends, hiking, or riding my four-wheeler.

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

Seward Properties is celebrating the end of our 5th year in business! Our plan for 2019 is to donate 5% of all our net proceeds to the community. We are so thankful for such a supportive community and we want to give back any way we can!

Feature Image: A beautifully designed new office stands tall on the corner of 4th and Madison in downtown Seward. Stop by and say hi! Photo Courtesy of Seward Properties.

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For more information about Seward Properties click here or call 907.312.7660.

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