Set on a granite outcropping known as a nunatak, atop Ruth Glacier in the snowy landscape of Alaska’s Denali National Park, this five-room hotel—built by the descendants of bush pilot and original homesteader Don Sheldon—rests on the mountain at 6,000 feet surrounded by nothing but sky and compressed ice. Animals are few, and there’s no internet—the nearest town is 50 miles away. Everyone who visits has to arrive by air transportation.
"The beauty exists outside, and we didn’t want the interiors competing with the gorgeous landscape," says the hotel’s owner, Marne Sheldon, of the family’s approach to designing the hexagon-shaped lodge, which now attracts guests from around the world. "Loud, bold colors would have been out of place. Instead we chose a warm, inviting, and clean style that focuses attention on the grandeur outside," she says.
For visitors, the chalet experience is a mix of austerity and comfort. Guests can explore nearby ice caves before enjoying a glass of champagne back at the lodge. They can cast trek across the glacier, and then indulge in artisan chocolates decorated to resemble the aurora borealis before tucking into a plush bed.
But amid all the natural beauty to take in, there’s one element that has the potential to eclipse everything—sunlight. In this environment, the sun is intense and in summer it shines well into the night. "The light becomes uncomfortably bright when it is bouncing off the snow and relentlessly reflecting back at you," says Marne, recalling how she often noticed guests and staff would wear sunglasses even when inside the chalet.
To mitigate the glare, the Sheldon family decided to upgrade the lodge’s windows with state-of-the-art treatments by Hunter Douglas. In the living room, for instance, the S-shaped veins of the brand’s Silhouette ClearView shades filter light without blocking views, making it possible to recline on an Eames chair in the library and comfortably read a good book.
In the bedrooms, Duette Honeycomb shades seamlessly blend with the window frames while providing insulation and total light blockage, so guests can get a good night’s rest. "The channels have a black, ridged interior that traps and absorbs the light from all angles, preventing it from entering the room around the perimeter of the shade," says Natalie Hatmaker, Senior Product Manager for Hunter Douglas, explaining how the system works.
The chalet’s new window coverings may seem like a small detail, but they’ve had an enormous impact. "The experience before had a survival element to it, along the lines of traditional mountaineering," says Marne. "Now guests can be immersed in all the wonder and awe of Denali in comfort—and enjoy it without sunglasses."
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