Tucked amid the Chugach Mountains on Alaska's south central coast, Alyeska is located just 40 miles (68km) south of Anchorage, Alaska in the quaint town of Girdwood. The resort boasts the only four diamond rated hotel in the state of Alaska, the Alyeska Prince, part of the hotel chain which dominates Japanese ski resorts.
Alyeska is by far the largest of the ski areas in Alaska, which has potentially more skiable terrain than the rest of the US put together. It is famous for its spectacular scenery, spectacular snowfall (average annual 631 inches), non existent lift queues, diverse terrain and long season.
In Spring daylight hours approach 24 hours, in winter the northern lights often put in an appearance. The word Alyeska (Alley-Eska) is derived from an Aleut word meaning "great land of white to the east." The state name "Alaska" is also a derivative of this native word. The local town of Girdwood, originally named Glacier City, was founded as a gold mining town at the turn of the century with several gold claims being staked on Crow Creek and the Virgin and California Creek.
The original townsite of Girdwood was flooded by the Turnagain Arm during an earthquake in the 1960s when the land sank eight feet. The town was relocated to its present location two miles up the valley. In 1954, eleven local men formed the Alyeska Ski Corporation along with the beginnings of the hard-earned dream of a first-class ski resort. In 1959, the first chair lift and a day lodge was built. The Corporation managed to secure a used chair lift from France that was dismantled, shipped to Alaska and rebuilt at Alyeska, to create a day use ski area.
In 1967 the resort was sold to Alaska Airlines and the present General Manager, Chris von Imhof, then the Director of Tourism for the State of Alaska, was hired to run the resort. The Nugget Inn, the original hotel, was built and a second chair lift was constructed on the upper mountain. In 1980, Seibu Corporation purchased Alyeska and invested heavily in its development. Seibu built a new high-speed quad chair, a fixed quad and a 60 passenger aerial tramway. The Alyeska Prince Hotel opened in August 1994.