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Aspen Hotel returns to Juneau, opens soon

Posted: May 17, 2011 - 8:42pm  |  Updated: May 18, 2011 - 7:31am
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Employees of Western Steel pour cement for a planter box in front of the new Aspen Suites Hotel on Tuesday.   Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Employees of Western Steel pour cement for a planter box in front of the new Aspen Suites Hotel on Tuesday.

Aspen Hotels is reopening in Juneau in a new airport location.

Aspen was originally built here on Shell Simmons Drive in 1999. It was sold to Extended Stay America in 2006. Pat Wallace, vice president of operations for Aspen Management, said many don’t realize these are two separate companies and Aspen doesn’t own that property anymore. The sale was part of a three-property deal that included properties here plus in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Now the company is building here again to complement the Aspen Hotels in Soldotna and Kenai. The new location at 8400 Airport Blvd. will open by May 31.

“We’re leased to be back in the Juneau market,” Wallace said.

Wallace said the city presents a strong hotel market, particularly with the legislature and tourist seasons. She said that the time to rebuild here was right and the new property had become available.

The Aspen in Juneau will be kind of a new model for the company. It’s geared toward both short and extended stay visitors. The other location that does this is the one in Kenai, which was built in 2008. The company’s original six locations were more for short stays.

“This is comfortable if you want to stay one night or a month,” said Wallace. “That’s what we found was wanted and we ask those questions.”

The hotel contains 78 rooms with either single or double queen-size beds. The single bed rooms also contain sofa beds. Rooms are almost 400 square feet. The building houses a guest laundry, business center, boardroom and fitness center as well.

Stephanie Weitman will be the new manager for Aspen in Juneau. After running the Super 8, she’s looking forward to the challenge of starting a hotel from scratch.

“We’re going to hit the ground running,” she said, as the hotel has been taking reservations since February.

Wallace said this type of building is something that’s needed in Juneau, saying “We also think it’s time for a new hotel.” She said the last one that was built brand new from the ground up was the original Aspen Hotel in 1999.

“We’re all just really excited about the property opening and showing it to different businesses,” she said.

Weitman said the next step is to get the word out. She expects to be very busy in the coming year and hopes to book plenty of longer stays and government visitors.

“Once everyone knows we’re here, I think we’re going to do very well,” Weitman said.

• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.

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