Glacier Bay properties feature wilderness, fishing

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.

the Glacier Bay Country Inn For travel agents, the appeal is more quantifiable -- a 12% base commission on individual sales that can be negotiated upward for groups.

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 our field."

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 Juneau.

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 asparagus.

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

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