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Over the years, I’ve seen the property that is now The Lakefront Anchorage go through several different incarnations. Early this summer, this hotel began its current life after a $10 million refurbishment by parent company Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, one of the top hospitality companies in the world. Without a doubt, the latest changes have taken the property to the next level.
I walked through The Lakefront Anchorage recently with general manager Carol Fraser, who showed me the highlights of the renovation, including a full remodel of all 248 guestrooms, new in-room heating and the addition of high-definition televisions. The hotel’s decor now features a local flavor, with moose lampshades, pictures from area photographers and hallway carpet that is patterned with traditional Southeast Alaska Tlingit-Haida artwork.
The property has also added freezer storage for anglers to store their freshly caught fish prior to the flight home.
Fraser says that in addition to the upgrades, the hotel benefits from its unique setting.
“The hotel is centrally located,” Fraser said. “We’re about a mile from Anchorage International Airport and 10 minutes from downtown Anchorage — and we’re just a floatplane flight to the rest of Alaska.”
In fact, the property is located on the intersection of Lake Spenard and Lake Hood, which is the largest floatplane base in the world with more than 1,000 registered planes. Fraser says the hotel is the only one on the lake with its own floatplane dock.
Near the dock is the hotel’s The Deck at Lake Hood, a seasonal outdoor hangout that’s favored by visitors and locals alike. Here, guests can have a cold beer and take in the exciting sights and sounds of more than 190 small-plane landings and takeoffs per day. There’s also nightly live local music.
Another hot spot at the hotel is Fancy Moose Lounge. This local favorite is known for amazing views, rich wood furnishings and wildlife trophies. The adjacent Flying Machine Restaurant offers fine-dining and decor that features artwork produced by Alaska pilots.
The hotel also partners with a wide range of special events, as well.
“We are involved with the Beer and Bacon Festival, which is sponsored by six local breweries,” Fraser said. “The recent ‘Bacon King’ winner ate 50 pieces. He wasn’t feeling too good the next day, but the bacon gift basket and $50 gift certificate sped up the recovery.”
Fraser said she expects about 1,000 people to attend next year’s event, which is scheduled for Aug. 13, 2016.
The Lakefront Anchorage also serves as the official host hotel for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, and the annual Musher Dinner will be held on property. It’s a great spot for visitors who want to capture some photos prior to the race.
One of the hotel’s assets is its friendly and skilled staff. During my visit, I asked front desk clerk Bethany Miller about the pineapple pins on her lapel — a curiosity in Alaska, where pineapples don’t grow. She proudly told me the pineapple was the international symbol for hospitality, and the pins were issued by the hotel for an employee’s outstanding customer service. Perhaps this kind of acknowledgement is one reason for the longevity of the staff: The head housekeeper and bartender have both worked at the hotel for more than 26 years.
With its unique location, popular hangouts, dedicated staff and upgraded accommodations, The Lakefront Anchorage should be around for a long time to come.