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Alaska Meeting Guide: Juneau

Courtesy Juneau CVB

As Alaska’s capital, Juneau attracts a broad range of meetings and events. As a city on the Inside Passage, the coastal route that winds through the Pacific islands along the state’s southernmost tip, Juneau can’t help but attract vacationers eager to see glaciers, watch humpback whales or go fishing.

“Alaska is one of those bucket list destinations, so it’s not uncommon to see families come up and turn a conference experience into a family travel experience, turn a four-day conference into a nine-day vacation,” said Ken Hill, group sales manager for the Juneau Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The city’s main meeting venue is the city-owned Centennial Hall, which is scheduled for upgrades to begin in 2014. Plans for the rehab of the 30-year-old center include a new roof, new plumbing and a dedicated generator system. After those must-have projects are complete, new paint, flooring, wall coverings and a complete overhaul of the communications and audiovisual systems are on tap, according to Hill.

Centennial Hall has 20,000 square feet of event space in up to seven meeting rooms, including a 12,400-square-foot ballroom that can be divided into three smaller rooms.

Across the street from Centennial Hall and directly across from the cruise docks, the 105-room Goldbelt Hotel also is poised for a makeover. Goldbelt Inc., the Alaska Native corporation that owns the hotel, plans to invest as much as $2 million to redo the paint, carpet and furnishings and turn a suite into another dedicated meeting room. The renovation is expected to be mostly complete by summer 2013, Hill said.

Goldbelt also owns the Mount Roberts Tramway, which has become more involved in the meetings industry under its new management. Visitors ride an enclosed gondola that climbs from sea level to the 1,800-foot peak of Mount Roberts, where it delivers them to the Mountain House and its observatory, the theater, the nature center, and the bar and grill, called the Timberline.

Because of a new manager/chef, whose background “lends itself to putting on events,” according to Hill, the Timberline has become more involved in hosting them. For example, it recently held a 150-person reception for the Alaska Power Association during its annual conference in Juneau.

“It’s become an iconic Juneau visitors experience,” Hill said of the tramway. “We’re really excited about that product being more active in the meeting industry.”

State government events are the bread and butter of Juneau’s meetings industry, followed closely by natural resource organizations that work in timber, mining, fisheries, arctic research and climate change. Juneau also hosts many sporting events and Native American and Alaska Native meetings, according to Hill.