Interior Conferences and Meetings: Small- and mid-sized venues in Fairbanks.
Fairbanks-area meeting planners know this because they spent nine hours on a bus tour in March getting a feel for a sample of the region's venues; tourism and meeting promotion organization Explore Fairbanks holds at least one of these tours every year.
This year, along the way, the bus stopped at twelve meeting venues. That's by no means a comprehensive lour, says Helen Renfrew, director of meetings and conventions at Explore Fairbanks.
"It's kind of like the top-of-mind places for accommodating and/or meeting and convention space, because we can't see everything Fairbanks has lo olfer over one full day," she says.
For those who want their own look at the venues, Explore Fairbanks sets up customized meeting venue walkthroughs for prospective meeting planners, usually at no or little cost to the meeting planner. About ten of these adhoc tours take place each year. The organization also helps meeting planners comparison shop between venues by inviting venues to bid on requests for proposals created by meeting planners with help from Explore Fairbanks.
Fairbanks lacks a large convention center like Anchorage's Dena'ina Center, so it's hard for the city to host large conventions of more than 450 attendees, Renfrew says. Hut the city hosts a few large conventions and hundreds of small-to-medium meetings each year. Over the last five years, Fairbanks hosted an average of 313 meetings per year. Each year, these meetings used an average of 27,480 hotel room nights and directly contributed $9.2 million to the local economy, according to Explore Fairbanks numbers.
Here's a look at a few meeting venues featured in the March tour. For more information about these and other venues, see the Explore Fairbanks forty-page meeting guide at explorefairbanks.com
Westmark Hotel Meeting space: More than 11.800 square feet of meeting space year-round, more than 17,000 square feet in winter Guest rooms: 400 Food: Onsite catering Past events: State Republican Parly convention, Alaska Library Association conference, Alaska Peony Growers Association conference
The Westmark Hotel boasts both the largest hotel ballroom in Fairbanks and one of the largest inventories of smaller rooms. The downtown hotel conference space occupies an entire wing of the hotel and can be accessed through the lobby or directly from the hotel's back parking lot.
The Gold Room is a 5,400-square-foot ballroom that can be rented in its entirety or broken down into thirds. Around it are eight smaller rooms ranging in size from 2,080 to 263 square teet.
Unlike Holland America Cruise Line's other Fairbanks hotel--the Princess Riverside Lodge--the Westmark is open year-round In the winter the W'estmark's meeting space inventory grows to include the 3,300-square-loot Northern latitudes restaurant and the 1,884-square-foot Tanana Trade Center.
Carlson Center Meeting space: 13.028 square feet in meeting rooms in addition to a 34.018-square-foot arena floor Guest rooms: None, however. Best Western Plus Pioneer Park is across the Chena River over a toot bridge Food: Onsite catering Past events: Alaska Miners Association Biennial Conference. Alaska Federation of Natives Convention, weekly Rotary and Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheons
It's not just a hockey arena. The big green building on the Chena River near downtown Fairbanks offers facilities for events from medium-sized meetings to some of Alaska's largest conventions.
During the Explore Fairbanks tour, the Carlson Center was set up both for a trade show and a lunch banquet for the Alaska Miners Association. In addition to the arena, the event used other spaces including the Pioneer and North Star rooms, which total 6,200 square feet when combined.
The Carlson Center routinely hosts standalone events in smaller facilities, says operations manager Adam Powell.
In all there are ten rooms available tor rent in the arena, including four small multipurpose rooms and the 480-square-foot Alaska Boardroom, which has audio visual equipment built into a mural of Denali and an overhead light fixture designed to look like a glacier.
The University of Fairbanks hockey team locker room can be rented when it's not in use during the hockey season. The room, with it its large decorative UAF Nanooks logo on the carpet, was used as a VIP holding room when former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson came to Alaska in 2017 for the Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting.
Wedgewood Resort Meeting space: More than 9.200 square feet of meeting space, plus access to the 25.500-square-foot auto museum for parties Guest rooms: 462 rooms available during the summer, events can be scheduled year-round Food: Onsite catering Recent events: University of Alaska Fairbanks Arctic Innovation Competition, fundraisers for the League of Women Voters, the Breast Cancer Detection Center of Alaska
theWedgewood Resort is a 110-acre hotel and apartment complex located near downtown Fairbanks. Is has a secluded feel because of its location tucked away alongside Creamer's Field Migratory Bird Refuge.
Most of the meeting venues are located in the conference center, a standalone building thai includes the 2,726-square-foot Borealis Room. Guests can also rent any combination of smaller rooms within the conference room. The 1,365-foot Garden Room works well as a reception room or as vendor space, says Wedgewood Catering Manager Cherie Minakais. The 667-square-foot Board Room at the opposite end of the Borealis Room can house a buffet line. The 1,833-square-foot Gazebo Room is popular with wedding receptions because it overlooks the Dowering grounds of the Wedgewood property and a gazebo often used for wedding services.
Elsewhere on the Wedgewood property is the Taiga Center, a 2,640-square-foot building located at the trailhead of the Wedgewood's nature trails, which adjoin the Creamer's Field trail network. It's a great place to hold a retreat, Minakais says.
The Wedgewood also owns one of Fairbanks' premiere visitor attractions: the 25,500-square-foot Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum features dozens of cars built between 1898 and 1938, displayed with historical clothing Irom the same period.
The museum can be rented for three-hour private parties, offering a bar, a heavy hors d'oeuvre station, and a dance Door positioned around the museum exhibits.
"There are a lot of things for your guests to do. Even if they are not car buffs, they are going to love this space," Minakais says. "It's a great icebreaker because it gets guests talking and interacting instead of sitting at a table."
Pike's Waterfront Lodge Meeting Space: More than 6.500 square feet among three rooms and reception areas Guest rooms: 208 Food: Onsite catering Past events: Iditarod start events, Alaska Board of Game meetings. Alaska Food Policy Council conference
At 2,800 square feet, the Binkley Room is the second-largest hotel ballroom in Fairbanks, but it's not a typical hotel ballroom space. The entire room is 80 feet long by 35 feet wide. Large windows on three sides overlook theChena River.
The entire back of the hotel's tirst Door can be rented as a unit called Pikes Waterfront. That rental includes the Binkley Room and the fireside, lounge, and piano areas. This lounge space on the way into the Binkley Room can be used for a bar or buffet line or vendor space. It was turned into a farmer's market at a food conference last year.
Pikes also has the 1,210-square-foot Fire-weed Room on the second floor and the Alyeska Boardroom on the third floor. The latter cannot be reconfigured for non-boardroom seating arrangements because the heavy wooden table doesn't fit through the doors--it had lo be brought in through thewindow, Renfrew says.
Pike's is locally owned and has some quirky attractions not commonly associated with hotels and conference centers. These perks include aromatherapy, a three-hole mini golf course, and a collection of pet ducks that live in the lobby as chicks in the spring before moving outside to the "Lucky Duck Hotel," on the hotel grounds: attractions advertised by 1950s style drawings displayed throughout the hotel.
"There are a lot of fun complimentary activities that you don't even have to leave the property to enjoy," says assistant manager Erin Krawczyk.
Raven Landing Center Meeting space: More than 5,300 square feet among five rooms Guest rooms: None Food: Onsite catering Past events: Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival lunch bites programs. Fairbanks Children's Museum Fundraiser. Fairbanks Symphony Fundraiser
The Raven Landing Center is a retirement community that opened in 2014. Many of its large community rooms were designed with private party and convention space rental in mind.
The centerpiece space is the 3,075-square-foot Raven Hall, which features large windows, 31-foot ceilings, a grand piano, and a stage. When not being rented, this space is the main dining room for residents and community guests. When rented for private events it can be used for theater productions, fashion shows, film screenings, and banquets. The Raven Hall recently added a bar, which is staffed by a Smartender automated cocktail dispenser. Event planners can also bring in a human bartender.
Raven Landing has four other rental spaces onsite ranging in size from the 910-square-foot Fireplace Lounge to the 210-square-foot Meditation Room. The Fireplace Room is quasi-private. A curtain on two sides separates it from a residential hallway.
For meeting planners on a tight budget, four community rooms can be rented for $25 to $35 an hour. These 910-square-foot rooms are also quasi-private because they're part of the residential section of Raven Landing. The community rooms offer kitchens and, unlike the other rental spaces at Raven Landing, can serve food not provided by the onsite caterer.
Fairbanks Curling Club Meeting space: 3.700-square-foot trophy room Guest rooms: None Food: Commercial kitchen available Past recent events: Lynden Transport company parly, team-building activity for the 16th Aggressor Squadron (F-16 fighter jet pilots)
Located next to the Carlson Center, the Fairbanks Curling Club offers a unique amenity: a view over the largest curling facility in Alaska and an opportunity for event guests to get out on the ice and try curling themselves.
The nonprofit organization that owns the club rents its trophy room space year-round, but curling only happens between October and March. When the ice isn't reserved for leagues or tournaments, the club can provide basic "learn to curl" lessons for event guests. "It's a fun atmosphere. We're kind of out of the mainstream," says Ken Hall, a curling club volunteer and former board member.
The narrow (93-foot by 32-foot) trophy room is on the second floor of the club and looks down on the six curling sheets. The space has a commercial kitchen, deck, fireplace, and full bar. It's decorated with curling trophies, photos, and memorabilia.
By Sam Friedman
Sam Friedman is a freelance writer in Fairbanks.
Other small venues are also available in Fairbanks for a variety of meetings and events:
La Quinta Inns & Suites Meeting space: 2,800-square-foot Glacier Room and 1.400-square-foot Finish Line Restaurant Guest rooms: 113 Food: Open loon-or off-site catering Past events: Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting, Yukon Quest 'meet the mushers' event, military family readiness meeting Regency Fairbanks Hotel Meeting space: Two meeting rooms with a total of 1,928 square feet of space; Tubby's Alaska BBO, The 2.015-square-foot hotel restaurant, can also be rented Guest rooms: 128 Food: Onsite catering Past events: Lions Clubs and American Legion meetings, Explore Fairbanks staff retreat Springhill Suites by Marriott Meeting space: Three rooms totaling more than 1.200 square feet Guest rooms: 140 Food: Hotel recommends onsite, independently owned restaurant Recent events: Statewide Independent Living Council of Alaska, Alaska Recreation and Park Association, League of Women Voters Sophie Station Suites Meeting space: 595-square-foot boardroom, 1,944-square-foot lounge and 920-square-foot restaurant can also be rented Guest rooms: 148, all suites Food: Onsite catering Recent events: Headquarters hotel (but not meeting venue) for Alaska Miners Association and Rural Providers Conference Hampton Inn & Suites Meeting space: 625-square-foot meeting room Guest rooms: 101 at Hampton Inn, nearby Candlewood Suites is owned by same company Food: Outside food allowed Recent events: Hockey team meetings. Cannon photography workshop
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|Title Annotation:||VISITOR INDUSTRY|
|Comment:||Interior Conferences and Meetings: Small- and mid-sized venues in Fairbanks.(VISITOR INDUSTRY)|
|Publication:||Alaska Business Monthly|
|Article Type:||Conference news|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2018|
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