Standing 180 miles out of Anchorage on the George Park Highway is a former luxury hotel, currently on sale for $300, 000 (£217, 000), and its current owner sees it being converted into a restaurant or hotel by its buyer.
So far, so normal. But there is a unique selling point to this building – or a unique not-selling point, depending on your point of view.
It’s an 80-foot rubber igloo.
The structure, made of polyurethane stretched over a wooden frame, is only inspired by Inuit igloos, it’s not actually made of ice. But the former Igloo City Hotel is likely to attract the more adventurous buyer.
The current owner, Brad Fisher, bought it in 1996 and thinks it has great potential (for someone else), pointing to its enviable location, passing trade and great views. It dates to the 1970s when it was built as a motorway rest stop. More recent years have seen it become a tourist attraction in its own right, as the fascination with the macabre meets the lure of the kitch…
The process of conversion could be expensive, though, as the Igloo Hotel is authentically freezing: there’s no electricity or heat. Not only is there no electricity inside the building: there’s none nearby. To supply it, you’d need to build a new substation.
In fact, the Igloo has always been a bit of a white elephant. It never really opened in the 1970s, and the inside remains structurally incomplete as well as lacking in that Alaskan essential, heating. It’s been extensively vandalised too, including having fireworks set off inside it.
As much as it sounds like it’s dead in the water, there actually is some method in Bob Fisher’s madness.
The Igloo has stunning views of snowy mountains and beautiful alpine meadows and is on the route out to the six-million-acre Denali National Park, home to the tallest mountain in North America and temporary accommodation to half a million tourists every year. It’s a great area to see moose, wolves, beaver, wild foxes and grizzly bears. It’s right next to prime snowmobiling and hiking territory. And the hotel already has a loyal tourist following. So yes, you could make something out of it.
You’d need deep pockets, though. In addition to getting the building actually finished and attached to the grid, you’d need to spend an unknown amount on making sure it’s up to code, including some that didn’t exist when it was built. The price seems a little steep for what is essentially half a rubber ball but it comes with 38 acres of prime Alaskan land, which is expensive, desirable and saleable. A buyer might want to do on a larger scale what Mr. Fisher did – run a separate business on the land next to it. Until 2005, Mr. Fisher operated hut rentals and a petrol station in the grounds of the hotel. So maybe an enterprising, hiking and outdoors friendly business person could make the Igloo cool again. Fancy it?