Hotel History

Hotel History

Captain James Cook helped define Alaska in the 18th century by mapping its jagged coastline for the first time. Since 1965, the Hotel Captain Cook has defined luxury in Alaska by offering a level of elegance and comfort unparalleled across the state. The legendary sea captain and the hotel that bears his name share two great qualities: a love of nature and an indomitable, Alaskan spirit.

The Man Who Inspired the Hotel

Captain James Cook was a British explorer and cartographer whose three major voyages took him around the southern tips of Africa and South America, to Easter Island and, on his final voyage, along Alaska’s majestic coastline. On these voyages, he and his crew documented the people, animals and flora and fauna that many had never seen before. In June of 1778, while looking for a Northwest Passage to Hudson Bay, he and his crew on the HMS Resolution dropped anchor in Turnagain Arm—within sight of the spot where the Hotel Captain Cook stands today.

The Hotel Captain Cook

An earthquake in 1964 leveled much of downtown Anchorage, and many in town were hesitant to rebuild. Walter J. Hickel was more optimistic. The Kansas native—who had arrived in Alaska in 1940 at the age of 20, with only 37 cents to his name—had already been investing in Alaska’s future for decades, building hotels and business centers as well as serving as Alaska’s governor, all with an eye to making Alaska the American gateway to the Pacific Rim. The Hotel has prospered and expanded with the times: the first Tower opened in 1965, followed by Tower II in 1972 and Tower III in 1978. Today, the 547-room hotel plays host to dignitaries, celebrities and people from all walks who love the grandeur of Alaska.