Aurora tourism is on the rise | Local Business

Aurora tourism is on the rise | Local BusinessAurora tourism is on the rise | Local Business

In December, Fred and Janet Vreeman along with partners Gondwana Ecotours announced they had purchased Alaska Grizzly Lodge, a 14-room hotel located at 1470 Westmoreland Ave., around Mile 4.5 of Chena Hot Springs Road. According to a news release, the new owners plan to renovate all of the rooms and add ramps and lifts for accessibility. Significantly, they also plan to expand the lodge’s northern lights viewing area — the release also notes that each of the lodge’s rooms have access to “private or shared aurora viewing decks.” In an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Fred Vreeman confirmed that the blossoming aurora tourism industry was the primary impetus behind the decision to buy the property. “We purchased this as a northern lights viewing lodge,” Vreeman said. “The business has grown over the past three years. So, when this lodge came up for sale, we secured it.” Fred Vreeman has lived in Alaska since 1978 and currently works as Alaska Tour Director for Gondwana, a company that’s been offering aurora tours in Fairbanks since 2013. Vreeman said he and his wife have seen a drastic uptick in business over the past four years. In 2016 they conducted just three tours; last year, they conducted 18, with 12-18 people on each tour. Their clients stay for seven days, during which time it’s “very rare” that they don’t see the northern lights, according to Vreeman. The Vreemans hire a northern lights guide, who stays up all night and monitors auroral activity. If ...
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