Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 6:25 PM on Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Soar like an eagle or hibernate like a bear

Kenai Peninsula Suites' unique lodging offers big views, rustic luxury

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer


Photographer: McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

Wolf's Den and Bear's Den, are the two subterranean suites at Kenai Peninsula Suites


Photo by McKibben Jackinsky

Jen Liston-Bouman and John Bouman, who are part of the partnership owning Kenai Peninsula Suites.

Looking for a unique setting for an overnight get-away? Maybe a tree-trunk hugging tree house? Or round-log construction with a vaulted ceiling? How about a cozy subterranean enclosure?

Kenai Peninsula Suites, located at 3685 Sterling Highway, has that and more. Each one-of-a-kind suite offers a bluff-top view of Kachemak Bay, Cook Inlet and the Kenai Mountains. A fire pit provides a gathering point to share experiences of the day. A hot tub promises relaxation following hours in the outdoors hiking, fishing or skiing.

Opened in late June, the accommodations are already drawing repeat customers and referrals, said John Bouman and his wife, Jen Liston-Bouman, the on-site representatives of Baycrest Development, LLC, a seven-member partnership that owns Kenai Peninsula Suites.

The suites include five separate units, featuring custom made furniture by Roger Minton of Homer. Kitchenettes are built into the designs; outdoor grills allow for preparing the daily catch or a meal of choice. Wireless network, plasma TV screens and DVD players also are thoughtfully provided.

Eagle's Nest is conveniently located as the second floor above the Kenai Peninsula Suites office. It's high perch and a 200-square foot deck adds to the spectacular view.

Squirrel's Nest is built eight feet above the ground. Its 144-square feet are snuggly wrapped around a living spruce tree trunk. In an earlier reincarnation, it was the playhouse of Bouman's two daughters. A nod to that piece of history can be seen in their names painted on the headboards.

Returning to ground level, the Otter Suite is a short distance away. Its privacy is secured by a stand of trees. The comfortable 200-square-foot cabin, complete with a kitchenette, can sleep as many as four.

The Puffin Suite, constructed of vertical logs artfully chinked by Fay Smith, expands the overnight experience to two levels. A private drive leads to the lower level door opening on a spacious sleeping area with two king beds. A winding staircase rises to the living area and kitchenette. The vaulted ceiling and overhead skylight is an example of the woodworking artistry that went into the construction, much of it due to the talent of Sam Shelton.

An above ground entrance with a sod roof provides access and a circular staircase descends to the Bear's Den and Wolf's Den, two subterranean suites carved into the landscape. Each one boasts 480 square feet, with walls and ceilings smoothly blended into an arch design. Sculpted landscaping provides a secluded outdoor area that makes the most of the scenery.

"The object was to try to not obstruct the view," said Bouman, looking around the site. Clearly, that goal was met.

With construction complete — at least for this season — grass is taking root around the suites. It was carefully removed when building began last September, stored and put back in place earlier this year.

"This is definitely a work in progress, but Mother Nature is taking over and doing her greenery, sprucing it up," said Bouman of the construction and the landscaping.

Former owner of Alaskan Suites and the historic ranger station, a nearby log building Bouman remodeled, Bouman said the idea for Kenai Peninsula Suites has been "in the back of my head. I've been thinking of doing stuff like this for years and finally met just the right group of guys that wanted to make it happen. And here we are."

The suites can accommodate 24 guests. Less than two months since opening, it is currently running between 50-60 percent capacity. The most popular suites are a tie between the round log house and the subterranean suites.

"Everybody that has been coming is definitely coming back. Our repeats and referrals have been really high. People are definitely talking about it," said Bouman. "Not bad at all for the first year."

There are plans to add more suites next year. What shape will they take?

"It depends on the feedback we get," said Bouman.

An open house is being planned for Sept. 25, with the public invited.

Bouman and his partners also have formed Alaska Lodging and Vacation Rentals. Through it, they are offering on-site operation for B&B owners looking for an opportunity to be less hands-on.

For more about Kenai Peninsula Suites, visit www.kenaipeninsulasuites.com.

oMcKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben. jackinsky@homernews.com.