Options in Seattle

A roundup of industry news from the Emerald City.

By: Marty Wentzel

SEATTLE For Seattle residents, the biggest news of late was the record-breaking sunny weather in June, July and August. But for travel agents looking to boost bookings year-round in the Emerald City, the following roundup of industry news will probably have more impact in the long run.

Concierge of the City

Seattle’s Convention & Visitors Bureau opened the city’s first full-service destination concierge facility July 21. The Citywide Concierge Center, located on the ground floor of the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in downtown Seattle, is open to the public, serving travelers, convention delegates, residents and business professionals.

More than a traditional concierge desk, the state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to assisting with Seattle information, service, bookings and reservations. 206-461-5815 www.seeseattle.org

Port of Plenty

The Port of Seattle’s luxury cruise industry has grown rapidly since the 2000 opening of the Bell Street Pier terminal on the central waterfront. Port officials estimate that the 2003 cruise season (April through October) will draw 94 sailings and 197,000 passengers. In 2002, 79 cruise ships visited with some 125,000 passengers, a significant increase from the six cruise ships that came to call in 1999. 206-728-3000 www.portseattle.org

Marriott Meetings

The 358-room Seattle Marriott Waterfront Hotel, the city’s first full-service Marriott, opened in April.

With 11,000 square feet of meeting space, the eight-story property hopes to tap the meetings and conventions market thanks to its location across from the 78,000-square-foot Bell Harbor International Conference Center.

Hotel facilities include a coffee bar, business center, fitness center, indoor/outdoor swimming pool and concierge floor with private lounge. 888-228-9290 www.marriott.com

Luxury Yachts

Seattle-based American Safari Cruises is expanding its list of domestic cruise destinations this fall with the addition of luxury yacht adventures in the Pacific Northwest.

The new Inside Passages of Washington and British Columbia excursion focuses on the scenery and culture of the San Juan and Gulf islands. Roundtrip from Friday Harbor, Wash., the cruise uses the 12-passenger Safari Escape. Seven-night rates start at $2,795 per person, double occupancy, with departures Oct. 10, and April 29 and May 6, 2004. 888-862-8881 www.amsafari.com

Curl up With a Classic

Whatever the season, the Alexis Hotel in downtown Seattle is offering guests a way to keep warm with a new package “Some Like It Hot.”

Clients get overnight accommodations in a fireplace suite, in-room viewing of the Marilyn Monroe classic “Some Like It Hot,” hot tamales and popcorn to snack on during the movie, a s’mores dessert and a take-home salsa CD.

Package rates start at $395 per night, good on stays through Dec. 30, 2004. 800-426-7033 www.alexishotel.com

Animal Section

Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo is going to the dogs wild dogs, that is. A pack of the handsome creatures recently made its debut in a new 5,000-square-foot habitat evoking an East African streambed bordered by high riverbanks. Visitors can view the dogs from across the stream, through a window on their heated underground den or from an overlook.

Over the summer, a new jaguar exhibit opened at the zoo. The big cats prowl around a setting representing Central and South America. Their lush forest home features a sandy shoreline, freshwater pool and falling water. 206-684-4800 www.zoo.org