ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Heavy hitters in the Alaska cruisetour market
are putting the final touches on renovations and additions to their
lodges and hotels.
Holland America Line spent $34 million on subsidiary Westmark
Hotels to expand its Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks.
The renovation enlarged the property to 401 rooms, expanded the
restaurant and added a lounge, meetings rooms and a health and
fitness center -- as well as special bathtubs that use lights and
air jets to provide a soothing bath.
HAL said other Westmark hotels are being renovated for the
upcoming season, including the Westmark Anchorage, the Westmark Tok
and the Westmark Whitehorse.
The line also added eight rail cars, and Gray Line of Alaska
invested $6.5 million for new Holland America coaches.
Princess Tours, meanwhile, will unveil two renovated wilderness
lodges near Denali National Park in May after completing a $26
million renovation of the Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge and the
Mount McKinley Wilderness Lodge.
Princess Tours president Charlie Ball said Princess upgrades
were completed in response to consumer demand for visits to the
park's interior and longer stays within the park's grounds.
"For the past several years, the top-selling cruisetours in our
lineup have been those that spend more time in the wilderness near
Alaska's national parks; and the Denali region, one of the state's
top two attractions, was particularly desirable to our guests,"
The guest room count increase is small, from 352 to 440 at
Denali and from 238 to 334 at McKinley. Princess operates a total
of 1,270 guest rooms statewide, Ball said.
The company also increased inventory of its Maximum McKinley
two- and three-night programs in 2004 -- in keeping with demand for
stays of two nights or more in the park -- and reduced its offering
of one-night Denali inventory, he said.
As a result of these changes, the company projects that
visitorship will increase this year by 25% at the Denali Princess
and 30% at the Mount McKinley lodge. The Denali Princess Wilderness
Lodge will host an anticipated 65,000 guests during the summer, and
the McKinley lodge will count some 40,000 visitors, Ball said.
In addition to the room count increase, the Denali Princess
lodge now offers a new, 16,000-square-foot main lodge building.
The lodge's great room features vaulted ceilings with exposed
timbers, 30-foot-high windows to take in the view of the park and
nearby Mount Healy as well as a two-story stone fireplace.
A new deli and espresso bar round out the facilities in the
Seating has increased at the Summit, the lodge's top restaurant.
The upgrade also transformed the exterior and grounds of the
property, with new walking paths and plantings. Five new shops have
been added, as well.
In addition to its room count increase, the McKinley project
added a dining venue, Expedition Pizza, with a casual atmosphere
and indoor and outdoor seating.
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