GUSTAVUS -- For guests at the Glacier Bay Country Inn and its
affiliate, the Whalesong Lodge, the appeal is pristine wilderness,
easy access to Glacier Bay National Park and great fishing -- for
salmon, Dolly Varden, halibut and more.
For travel agents, the appeal is more quantifiable -- a 12% base
commission on individual sales that can be negotiated upward for
Sandi Marchbanks, whose family -- four generations of them --
operate the two properties, restructured the commission scale this
year as a way of showing agents that somebody cares. "We recognize
that agents and wholesalers are faced with falling commission
levels, especially from the airlines," she said. "Payment to agents
is an issue that is too frequently skirted by service providers in
The Glacier Bay Country Inn offers rooms in the main lodge and
in self-contained cabins on the grounds; the Whalesong Lodge,
nearby, has three-bedroom condominiums tailored to traveling
families. Between them, they attract a varied clientele.
On any given summer day, according to Marchbanks, the guest list
might include Wall Street or Silicon Valley executives arriving in
their private planes and families arriving by ferry from
The inn prides itself on its kitchen. A typical menu might offer
an appetizer of broiled prawns or chilled duck spring rolls with
strawberry vinaigrette, followed by grilled filet of king salmon
with Mongolian glaze and ginger-infused rice or broiled halibut
with spicy plum sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes and stir-fried
These elegant meals are served in an informal manner, with
guests sharing large tables and no prearranged seating. The meal
might be interrupted momentarily as guests gravitate to the windows
to watch a black bear and her cubs feasting on the wild
strawberries that grow alongside the landing strip.
Rates at the main building of the inn start at $162 per night,
per person, double; at the cabins, rates start at $176 per night,
per person, double. The prices include three meals, transfers to
and from the airport or dock and an afternoon guided nature walk in
Glacier Bay National Park.
At the Whalesong Lodge's main building, rates start at $70 per
night, per person, double; in a condo, rates start at $135 with
continental breakfast and $170 with three meals included.
Fishing and whale-watching packages are available, using the
boats of another of the family's operations, Grand Pacific
Charters. A one-night package, with a whale-watching excursion off
Point Adolphus, one of the world's busiest "whale highways," costs
$408 per person, double. Meals are included.
A five-night package at the inn, with four days of freshwater
fishing and one day of saltwater fishing, costs $2,745 per person,
double. Glacier Bay Country Inn and Whalesong Lodge, Phone: (800)
628-0912 or (907) 697-2288, Web sites: www.glacierbayalaska.com and www.whalesonglodge.com