Notable Alaskan developer and politician Walter J. Hickel was the lead investor in what became known as the Hotel Captain Cook, named for Captain James Cook, a British explorer and cartographer whose voyage in 1778 took him and crew along the Alaska coastline. Just months after the 1964 earthquake leveled sections of Anchorage, Hickel and the design firm Edwin B. Crittenden and Associates broke ground on the first tower of the hotel. Wally Hickel was determined to demonstrate that Anchorage remained a viable city and would rebuild after the devastating quake. Construction on the first tower continued through the winter, and the 125-room hotel opened in July 1965. Built to the seismic requirements of the Uniform Building Code, this nine-story building has squarish windows set in a grid of porcelain enamel panels. The second tower—fifteen stories—was designed in the early 1970s by Maynard and Wirum in much the same style, and a third eighteen-story tower was added later. Today the hotel includes 546 total guestrooms and an athletic club with a full range of workout equipment, a heated pool and hot tub, and a spa. The three segments of the hotel are connected by a one-story portion that includes the public spaces. The unusual mustard color of this assemblage of buildings adds to its distinctiveness on the Anchorage skyline.
The hotel is among Alaska’s only four-star accommodations and in 2016 was inducted into the Historic Hotels of America, the official travel organization of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition to its rooms, the hotel hosts art galleries, conference rooms, a breakfast nook, a first-floor bar and grill, a wine bar, and a top-floor restaurant with panoramic views of the city, mountains, and Cook Inlet. The hotel draws visitors and residents year round and anchors the western edge of Anchorage’s downtown.
"Hotel Captain Cook." Historic Hotels of America (National Trust for Historic Preservation). Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.historichotels.org/.