“A lot of guests tell us they love the setting and they love the fact that they’re not staying in a traditional hotel,” said James Fields, the owner of Cranberry Hill Cabins in Glennallen. “It’s a quiet setting that feels remote. For many, it’s a taste of the real Alaska.”
Fields purchased Cranberry Hill Cabins in early 2006. Although he’s been the owner for a only year, Fields has plenty of experience working in the hospitality industry. His father is co-owner of the Caribou Hotel, Restaurant and Gift Shop in Glennallen. Just one day after Fields graduated from high school, he came to Alaska to help with construction.
“When I moved to Alaska, I wanted to help my father run a family business,” said Fields. “A couple years later, when I had the chance to purchase the cabins, I took it.”
The Cranberry Hill Cabins include a uniquely Alaska bed and breakfast and two rustic cabins that sleep up to four guests. One of the cabins, named after poet Robert Service, was built long before Glennallen became a town. Fields says both cabins give guests the chance to get off the beaten path and experience a part of Alaska that isn’t as largely traveled as other areas of the state.
“The cabins back up to large open tundra. You can start your hike from the back door,” said Fields. “Because we are located in a major migration path for caribou, you can look out the cabin windows and see wildlife in their natural environment.”
Although the remote setting is appealing to many guests, it can make it difficult for local business owners to conduct banking. When First National opened the Glennallen Branch in April 2006, Fields says it helped him operate his business finances more efficiently and effectively.
“We’ve been First National customers for years and to have a branch in Glennallen has helped our business tremendously,” said Fields. “Karl (Heinz) can see what we’re doing, it’s a lot easier to communicate and we can really get things done.”
Not long after opening, First National initiated the new Deposit Advantage program for business customers in the area. Instead of going into the branch, businesses with a portable scanner and Internet connection can make deposits from the convenience of the office, saving the time of making a trip to the bank. Deposits can be made online any time, day or night, using a remote capture system that allows businesses to scan up to 30 items per minute.
“It’s a pretty slick deal,” said Fields. “It eliminates a lot of paperwork and immediately sends all of our banking information to Anchorage. We lose the lag of that day it takes to send it to town. There’s really no downside to it.”
Deposit Advantage also reduces the risk of lost or stolen deposits and gives businesses the advantages of electronic collection even when customers pay by check. Glennallen Branch Manager Karl Heinz says Deposit Advantage gives business owners peace of mind knowing when their deposits should be available and saves businesses time and money.
“Deposit Advantage gives our customers faster access to their deposits and saves them a trip to branch. That is a big advantage when some of our customers are as far as 140 miles away,” said Heinz.
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