A new luxury bed and breakfast in the Fairbanks area offers seven rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows boasting panoramic views of snow-covered hills along with the comfort and beauty of modern design.
The Aurora Villa was built last winter and opened in March. It sleeps up to 20 people. A room costs up to $520 a night.
You won’t find the preserved head of a moose hanging over a fireplace in this chic million-dollar, two-story property, which was designed to have a sleek international flair. It was built by Johnson River Enterprises and the architect is Sparano + Mooney Architecture, which has offices in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.
The villa is appointed with art from local painters, including Kesler Woodward. The simple, sturdy furnishings were shipped to Fairbanks from China.
The villa is one example of major investments being made across Fairbanks in recent years to cater to the growing winter tourism market.
Utah businessman Haiyang Yang, who is originally from Beijing, and other Chinese investors own the villa, which sits on 10 acres on the north side of Chena Hot Springs Road.
Aurora Villa is tucked away, but it’s worth the drive for visitors of a certain tax bracket looking to get close to the backcountry in style but still have WiFi.
“We want it to be a peaceful interlude from life. You come here, and you just kind of relax,” said Debra Childers, general manager.
The villa is drawing mainly Asian travelers eager to view the northern lights, but operators said it can also be rented for meetings, weddings and workshops.
The property offers one large common room with a long table that sits 12 to 14 people and has bench-style curvy couches. Track lighting is hung throughout and a big screen television hangs on a wall.
The inn has a shared kitchenette with a microwave and refrigerators. A continental breakfast is available every morning to include pastries, bread, fruit, hard-boiled eggs, sausage and cheese with coffee, tea and juice.
An Alaska-style lodge is also part of the property and has rooms for rent plus a full kitchen.
Yang, who operates a tour company in Salt Lake City, said he decided to build the inn after hearing about the increasing number of Asian travelers coming to Fairbanks. In 2018, he came to see for himself. Yang looked at seven properties before settling on a parcel along John Kalinas Road.
As he considered the design, he turned to glass houses and aurora-viewing houses in northern Europe. He decided the design “must be integrated into nature” and “should not be too abrupt.”
“With the ups and downs of the mountains ahead, the concave and convex of each room are echoed with the mountains ahead,” he said in a written statement. “The large floor-to-ceiling windows meet the needs of guests to lie down and see the aurora.”
Scott McCrea, director of tourism for Explore Fairbanks, said the lodging is unique for Fairbanks for its sumptuous appeal on the edge of wilderness.
McCrea, who specializes in the Chinese visitor market, said some travelers from Asia are looking for a little opulence to go with their Alaska experience.
“This property helps meet that demand — visitors coming from China who want a higher-end property,” he said.
As the tourism industry in Fairbanks grows, much of the growth can be attributed to winter visitors, McCrea said.
“For the most part, it’s all connected to Fairbanks as a northern lights destination,” he said.
Since the bed and breakfast is new, there are few online reviews.
One reviewer wrote, “It’s very much in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by rural roads and homesteads, but if you’re looking for quiet and quaint luxury, go for it.”
Emily Banks, the property’s public relations and marketing manager, said, “most of the guests say this is a hidden treasure.”
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.