FAIRBANKS, Alaska Throughout its many reincarnations over the
past 50 years, the Fairbanks Westmark Hotel has been a mainstay
among tour and independent travelers visiting the Golden Heart of
Alaska. A recent $34 million renovation has catapulted this
Fairbanks landmark to a hotel superstructure (by Interior Alaska
standards) that is the epitome of cutting-edge technology and
The Westmark Hotel and Conference Center is located in the heart of
downtown Fairbanks and is bordered by the First National Bank of
Anchorage on its west side, a medical building to the south and
private housing to the north and east. The hotel is now the tallest
occupied building in Fairbanks, and has added 264 new rooms and 86
suites totaling 400 rooms.
The facelift has polished the hotel’s image from entrance to exit
from meticulous landscaping to tastefully decorated hallways and
plush suites with DVD players and plasma-screen televisions.
Guests arrive by car, air, railroad or bus, and depending on time
of day and year, the main lobby can be a hub of frenzied activity
or a contemplative resting area.
“Cruise and tour groups comprise 92 percent of our guests here
during the 111-day tourist season,” said Robert Harmon, Westmark
general manager. “And we currently offer more meeting space than
any other hotel in Fairbanks. Our staff deals with cruise
passengers all the time, and are educated in Alaskana.”
Starting last year, cruise-ship clients who took land-based tours
that included an overnight at the Westmark had their hotel keys
issued to them on the bus prior to arrival, so they could proceed
directly to their room without waiting to check in. On the way to
their rooms, have your clients first explore the lobby and winding
hallways and restaurants, where they may find anything from ice
sculptures to original Alaska artwork.
At 350 square feet, the standard guestroom here is on par with
other hotel rooms in downtown Fairbanks. Executive suites are 450
square feet and can exceed 900 square feet when adjacent rooms are
reserved. Ask for rooms that are on the seventh floor or higher,
which on a clear day, provide the best view of the rolling hills to
the north, or portions of the Alaska Range to the south.
Standard rooms are adequately furnished with queen- or king-sized
beds, in-room ironing board and iron, hair dryer, coffeemaker,
cable TV, two phones and lighted closets. Handicap options are
available in select rooms. Rooms are immaculately clean, with no
leaking or corroded pipes, stained carpets or yellowed grout in
The bells and whistles can be found in the multi-roomed business
suites like the Bear and Seal suite.
Opulent in design and function, this $500-a-night suite has a
chromatherapy soak tub. The effervescent bubbles from 11 specially
engineered air jets lightly caress the skin. Four LED light ports
positioned on the inner walls of the 66-inch tub have Aurora-like
colors cascading through the water. A spigot in the ceiling fills
the tub and the water overflows into a moat around the tub,
creating a soothing, yet relaxing sound of a small waterfall.
The entire bathroom is tiled in a multi-colored glass tile. The
shower large enough for several people has 12 separate jets for
additional comfort and relaxation. The plasma television which also
serves as a dressing mirror has a waterproof remote that floats
around in the Jacuzzi like a small boat.
The suite also offers a dining table that converts into a meeting
area for eight people, a large plasma TV capable of projecting
PowerPoint presentations, and two workstations. One could spend an
entire evening exploring the technological marvels and design of
Should your clients manage to make it out of their rooms for some
exercise, the 800-square-foot fitness center includes eight
treadmills and rowing and elliptical cross trainers. Due to
liability issues, however, there is no weight-training equipment.
The room is well lit and furnished with towels and a drink machine.
The center is open from 5 a.m. to midnight.
State-of-the-Art Conference Facilities
The state-of-the-art Walter Harper Boardroom was named in honor of
Walter Harper, an Athabascan native who was the first man to stand
on the summit of Denali (Mount McKinley) on June 7, 1913.
Conference facilities include 13 function rooms totaling over
16,700 square feet, the most meeting space of any hotel in
The Tanana Trade Center offers enough floor space to hold 22,
eight-foot by eight-foot show spaces. Three breakout rooms, a
5,400-square-foot ballroom and separate dining or meeting rooms
makes this a quality conference support facility that can handle up
to 400 people.
During the summer season, the individual traveler may feel
overwhelmed by the influx of tourists and occasional lull in
normally speedy service, or might not be able to affordably indulge
in the many luxuries the business suites offer. Other Fairbanks
hotels give the Westmark a run for its money in terms of
restaurants or location, but none offer as many business and
conference features under one roof.
In summary, the Westmark Fairbanks is ideally suited to serve the
needs of additional tourism traffic, and business or government
clientele, with its big-time conference facilities and technology
and its quality accommodations in Alaska’s Golden Heart City.