One of the most alluring parts of travel is the opportunity to experience something new. When we make the effort to go someplace, we want it to be different. We don’t want it to feel like home with better scenery. We try to sample the local color and, when possible, prefer to stay in smaller places that give us a better sense of the area we are visiting.
Despite the fact that we were planning our trip to Alaska more than 6 months in advance, we found that many of these smaller lodging options were completely filled. While researching our options on the Kenai Peninsula, I discovered a resort that was highly rated on TripAdvisor. When I clicked over to the resort’s website I realized that the accommodations are luxury yurts. I know a yurt is a glorified tent, but I was curious about what features turn a regular yurt into a luxury yurt, so I read through the website and more glowing reviews.
That night Oregano asked how the lodging search had been going. I told him that I’d discovered lots of great options, but that availability was a problem. Jokingly, I told him about the luxury yurt resort.
“Yurt? What’s a yurt? I’ve never even heard that word before,” he said.
“A yurt is a round, sturdier version of a tent,” I answered.
“Cool! Let’s go for it!” he said enthusiastically.
I looked at him like he was an alien. Five minutes ago he didn’t know what a yurt was and now he’s ready to spend the night in one. We aren’t campers. We’re not exactly outdoorsy unless you count sitting in the hammock in the garden. The idea of sleeping in a tent, albeit a sturdy one, didn’t exactly appeal to me.
“Are you serious? You want to spend a night in a yurt?” I asked incredulously.
“Sure! It would be an adventure. What are the details?” he asked.
I regretted mentioning this resort, but it was too late now, so I continued. “It’s on a beautiful remote island. We’ll need to leave our car at the public dock and take a water taxi to get there. The yurt is very spacious and will have a bed and bathroom with a composting toilet. There are solar panels, but reviewers said there wasn’t much electricity. Cell service will be questionable.”
“Twenty-four unplugged hours enjoying Alaska’s natural beauty sounds like a fair trade off for electricity,” he said trying to convince me.
“When I was perusing the website I did a quick check of the pricing and it looks like it is $250 for the night.” I hoped the price would give him some pause.
“That’s more than we usually spend for a night, but it sounds great! It’s like getting a hotel and an adventure all in one.” He peeked over my shoulder at the website. “Look! They have kayaks to use during our stay.”
I was a bit alarmed by his enthusiasm.
“I’d really prefer sleeping in something with sturdy walls when there is a possibility of bears sneaking in during the night and eating us,” I said with great concern.
“The website said there aren’t any bears on that island,” he pointed out.
“Ah, yes, I saw that, but did anyone show the website to the bears? I’m pretty sure they go where they want.” His casual attitude about animals that could snack on me as an appetizer before moving on to him as the main course disturbed me.
He still wanted to know more, so I kept going. “We will have a small propane stove, but no fridge. We’ll need to bring all the food we’ll need for our stay and enough ice to keep it cool for the duration. That’s a lot to schlep down a dock with our luggage then haul onto a boat.” I was trying to discourage him.
“So, we’ll eat granola bars during our stay. If we do that, we won’t need any ice,” he offered by way of a solution. “It will be an adventure. C’mon, let’s do it. We can kayak and just enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s only 24 hours. When are we ever going to have an opportunity like this again?”
“The weather in Alaska is unpredictable. If it rains, we won’t be able to kayak. We’ll be stuck in the yurt all day. There will be no TV, no internet.”
Unfazed by this information, he said, “It’s a good thing we enjoy each other’s company. That could get pretty boring. It’s only 24 hours, how bad could it be?” He was really giving me the hard sell.
I could conjure numerous scenarios of how bad it could be. It could rain the entire time trapping us in the yurt. The owners who ferry us out to the resort could meet with some unfortunate fate, stranding us on a remote Alaskan island without cell service. I could go on and on, but Oregano was so excited about the prospect of spending a night in a yurt. I suspect part of the appeal was that he just enjoyed saying the word yurt.
“Okay,” I acquiesced.
“Okay, what?” he asked.
“Okay. I’ll spend the night in a yurt,” I agreed reluctantly.
“Great! This is going to be a once in a lifetime experience,” he said.
“Let’s hope so,” I muttered under my breath.
“Check the availability on the website,” he said quickly hoping to book this before I could change my mind.
I pulled up the website and saw that they did have availability. Damn!
“They have several yurts available for the date we need. Let me just read through their policies and the logistics of getting there one more time before we commit.”
I carefully read through all the information and then realized I had made an error about the price.
“Hmm… I think I read this wrong. It looks like the price is $250 per person; not per night,” I said rereading the website.
“$250 per person! It’s a yurt!” he exclaimed horrified by this new bit of information.
“Yes, but it’s a luxury yurt and, as you pointed out we’ll have a kayak to use during our stay,” I said.
“$250 per person!” he sputtered. “There’s no electricity!”
“Yes, but it’s about the experience, not the electricity,” I reminded him of his previous argument.
“$500 total and that doesn’t include food!”
“No, it doesn’t include food, but it does include the water taxi ride from town,” I pointed out.
“Not only does it not include food, we have to bring it all with us and the ice to keep it cold,” he said shaking his head.
“No, we’re going on the 24 hour granola bar diet. That was your plan so that we wouldn’t have to carry ice. Don’t you remember?” I asked.
“I remember, but it still seems like a lot of money for one night with no amenities and very few necessities.” He sounded disappointed.
This was great! I had dodged a yurt shaped bullet. I get the credit for agreeing to be adventurous without actually having to be adventurous.
“So now what?” he said dejectedly. Not yet willing to give up on his dream of spending a night in a yurt, he grabbed the laptop to search on other yurt lodging in Alaska. Five minutes later he called out to me, “Hey, I found a cheap yurt we can stay in!”
I stopped what I was doing and looked at him in disbelief. “Think about what you just said,” I replied. “Really, think about the combination of words you just used: ‘cheap’ and ‘yurt’.”
“So, those are two words that shouldn’t be together. If the luxury yurt didn’t have electricity or a refrigerator, what things are missing to make a yurt cheap?” I said completely unwilling to find out the answer to that question.
“Good point,” he conceded.
After more searching, I found us an affordable, lovely lakeside cabin with wooden walls, electricity and running water. If wanting those few luxuries makes me a princess, then so be it.