Location: Karluk Lake, Kodiak Island, Alaska
In one line, what makes you a PUREist?
My unbridled passion to provide our guests with a life-changing and awe inspiring experience through intimate viewing and observation of the largest carnivore on earth, the legendary Kodiak Bear, and the incredibly rich and diverse ecosystem in which they live.
Tell us your story – how did you get where you are today?
I’m very fortunate to have been raised in Kodiak. When I was growing up I would often read in outdoor and travel magazines where people had to travel great distances to be in the to enjoy the wildlife and wilderness and I had the environment they were seeking right out my back door. During the 1960s and 70s Kodiak was heralded as the king crab and salmon capital of the world, which drew me into these burgeoning fisheries for 16 years.
During my commercial fishing years I was afforded the privilege and opportunity to see and experience first-hand Alaska’s incredibly abundance of wildlife and sea life populations along the rugged and uninhabited coastlines of Kodiak, the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea.
In the late 1980s I left the fishing industry in Kodiak and used my skills and experience as a licensed master mariner to form a tour company that took guests on a marine adventure to the Kenai Fjords National Park to see the massive tidewater glaciers, humpback and orca whales, and numerous other species of sea birds and sea mammals.
I am a Native Alaskan of Alutiiq descent who are the indigenous Native people of the Kodiak Archipelago. In 2010 I was approached by our Regional Native Corporation, Koniag, Inc., to design and build a guided bear viewing program whose facilities and operations would be second to none, but most importantly, exemplify the sacred respect our Alutiiq culture, heritage, and elders have for these legendary bears.
Koniag owns 112,000 acres in the heart of the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge located in the Karluk Lake and River drainage area, which is home to the Kodiak Brown Bear Center. This area is the cradle of our Alutiiq culture and heritage; It has become world renowned for having one of the highest recorded concentrations of bears in the world, with eight of the ten largest bears ever recorded coming from this area. I was thrilled and humbled at this opportunity and thus, the Kodiak Brown Bear Center was born.
The Kodiak Brown Bear Center’s home is on Camp Island, located in the center of Karluk Lake. Our guided bear-viewing program represents the fusion of thousands of years of traditional Alutiiq wisdom with modern scientific knowledge. An extremely unique and awe-inspiring experience that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.
Can you share with us your single most life-enriching experience?
Building the Kodiak Brown Bear Center on the very grounds our Alutiiq forefathers once walked, hunted and fished.
What does the term ‘experiential travel’ mean to you?
To me it’s a life-changing experience that leaves you with a greater understanding, insight, respect, and appreciation for the incredible and diverse world we all live in and share.
“I am a Native Alaskan of Alutiiq descent who are the indigenous Native people of the Kodiak Archipelago… (We built) the Kodiak Brown Bear Center on the grounds our Alutiiq forefathers once walked, hunted and fished.”
Describe your ideal client: how do they approach travel?
My ideal client is one who is not self-serving in their desires at the expense of the wildlife, environment and others in the group. The ideal client is flexible, adaptable and understands that experiential experiences are not static; they are dynamic and ever changing.
What made you decide to join PURE Life Experiences and how has doing so benefitted your business?
I was introduced to PURE Life Experiences through Marc Telio from Entrée Destinations, who believed the Kodiak Brown Bear Center offered a very unique and special high-end experience. He recommended I contact PURE Life Experiences to see if they would accept us as part of their global high-end experiential experiences. We were thrilled at being accepted into this global network of experiential PUREists who share the same desire, passion and commitment for high-end and incredibly unique, life enriching experiences. As a new member we look forward with great anticipation to the conference in Marrakech, Morocco this November to meet and share with our fellow experiential travellers and PUREists the unique experience we have to offer at the Kodiak Brown Bear Center.
What role do you think PURE has to play in the high-end experiential travel industry?
PURE is the global platform enabling high-end experiential companies to network with each other, share ideas, resources and ensure that the PURE endorsement as an experiential travel company will always represent the gold standard in experiential travel.
What other brands and companies in high-end experiential travel do you admire the most?
Entrée Destinations for their relentless pursuit of high-end experiential experiences, knowledgeable staff and exemplary customer service.
If there were one thing you could change about the travel industry, what would it be?
Weeding out those who over promise, mislead and make false representations just to make a sale.
Finally, who is your experiential hero?
Our Native Alaskan Alutiiq forefathers. They took only what they needed and had a sincere reverence and respect for the environment and its resources that they were dependent upon for their survival. The Alutiiq’s were very innovative and knew how to read and understand the weather, seasonal climate changes and use them to their advantage.
“My ideal client is one who is not self-serving in their desires at the expense of the wildlife, environment and others in the group.”
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