Alaska lodge operator's rustic refinement

By Johanna Jainchill

Winterlake LodgeWithin the Wild Adventure Co., a family business known for its luxurious but rustic backcountry lodges, has sold one of its three properties.
The move represents the company's desire to focus on its two remaining properties and on the significant expansion it is making in Homer, Alaska, where it recently opened a cooking school and cafe.

Within the Wild sold the three-cabin Redoubt Bay Lodge to the owner of Alaska West Air.

The lodge, located on the edge of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in south-central Alaska, has been operated by Within the Wild since 1994.

Also family-owned, Alaska West Air has been providing cabin rentals and hunting and bear-viewing flightseeing tours on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula and in southwest Alaska since the 1980s.

"Alaska West Air is in a great position to care for the lodge because they are a longtime local family and they are committed to the Redoubt Bay area," said Kirsten Dixon, Within the Wild's co-owner.

Within the Wild, in existence since 1983, is run by Dixon and her husband, Carl, along with their daughters Carly and Mandy. The family owns and operates Winterlake Lodge and Tutka Bay Lodge, both known for offering five-star accommodations and cuisine to match: Kirsten and Mandy are Le Cordon Bleu-trained chefs. The Dixons released a second cookbook this fall.

Tutka Bay LodgeSince purchasing Tutka Bay Lodge near Homer in 2009, Within the Wild has expanded rapidly in that area. Last summer, the company opened a cafe, La Baleine; RusticWild, a home goods boutique, opened in 2011; and the Cooking School at Tutka Bay, adjacent to its lodge, launched in 2010.

Kirsten Dixon said selling Redoubt enables Within the Wild to continue to take on new projects in its current locations.

"We love the opportunity to focus and refine the lodge properties," Dixon said.

Within the Wild is partnering with Anchorage art gallery Artique Ltd., which will install a curated collection of art at Tutka Bay Lodge, with all items for sale.

Carl Dixon built a sled dog camp on Trimble Glacier near Winterlake Lodge last summer, which guests can visit via helicopter and spend a day learning to drive the family's sled dog team. Winterlake, the fourth checkpoint in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in early March, is open for the winter season from Feb. 1 to April 15.

The Cooking School at Tutka Bay Lodge offers classes dedicated to local cuisine as well as global cuisine, using local ingredients.

Each Within the Wild lodge has only six cabins, enabling the Dixons to tailor each stay to the guests.

"We work hard to find what it is they might be looking for," Kirsten said. "Sometimes it's making chocolate chip cookies, and sometimes it's hiking a death-defying ridge."


Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw. 

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