Juneau took center stage on national TV Monday night when the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible season four premiere zeroed in on improving the historic Alaskan Hotel and Bar.
The show’s coming to Alaska’s longest continually operating hotel resulted in several big changes — most improved the hotel’s quality and performance, but some left a deep rift between the hotel and some of its former staff.
The positives include eight newly renovated rooms designed to capture the historic uniqueness of the Alaskan, revised management practices aimed at bettering the business and changes to bartending practices designed to save the hotel significant amounts of money.
“I was surprised at how much of a difference putting in down comforters made,” said owner Bettye Adams, as she excitedly pointed out the upgrades in one of the renovated rooms. “It just looks so much better.”
After showcasing a couple other components of the internal face-lift as a result of the reality TV show, Adams said she really liked the final product that aired Monday — even if the show’s host was harsh on her at the beginning of the episode.
“You had to give up your ego if you’re going for this,” Adams said.
Another significant change to the hotel was proposed at the ownership level. That was for Joshua Adams, Bettye Adams’ son, to take over the day-to-day business operations of the hotel while Bettye Adams handled the building’s exterior.
In an email to the Juneau Empire, Joshua Adams said the arrangement so far has been “fruitful.”
Adams said he hired an assistant manager to “help out with the staff and day to day functions of the hotel” while he worked on the website and the third edition of his book about the hotel.
Updates to the beer taps in the bar have greatly reduced the amount of beer that was being wasted before the show’s visit, but the bartenders still have discretion to vary the pour based on the customer, he added. During the episode that aired, a bartender referred to over-pouring drinks as the Alaskan’s “signature” drink.
Still, some effects of the show were known long before the episode aired Monday night.
Former employees told the Empire in an Oct. 11 article that approximately 80 percent of the staff left after the filming — largely because then-bar manager Lane Taylor had been fired on camera.
Taylor told the Empire in a phone interview Wednesday that he had actually not been fired, but rather he resigned the day after he was “portrayed to be fired” on set in an effort to boost the show’s ratings.
“The reason I resigned was because it was clear to me that the owners were OK with firing me on TV and standing by that portrayal, when they in fact didn’t want me to leave,” Taylor said Wednesday.
He originally stated in an Oct. 9 email to the Empire that he “was fired for choosing not to be on reality TV.”
In a prepared statement sent to the Empire, Taylor said he has retained Choate Law Firm LLC to represent him in regards to the end of his employment at the Alaskan.
As of press time, no claims have been filed by either side.