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Interior Conferences and Meetings: Small- and mid-sized venues in Fairbanks.

Fairbanks has enough meeting venues that it takes more than a clay just to walk through all the ballrooms, reception areas, and board rooms.

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
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

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
Guest rooms:             None
Food:                    Commercial kitchen
Past recent events:      Lynden Transport company
                         parly, team-building activity
                         for the 16th Aggressor
                         Squadron (F-16 fighter jet

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
Past events:                    Alaska Board of Fisheries
                                meeting, Yukon Quest
                                'meet the mushers' event,
                                military family readiness

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
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
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
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Comment:Interior Conferences and Meetings: Small- and mid-sized venues in Fairbanks.(VISITOR INDUSTRY)
Author:Friedman, Sam
Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:Conference news
Date:Jun 1, 2018
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