Clarion Hotel

Anchorage

1984

The Clarion Hotel project was a ground-up development of a 248 room full service hotel on a 152,000 square foot waterfront lot. 

The Clarion Hotel project was a ground-up development of a 248 room full service hotel on a 152,000 square foot waterfront lot.  The 166,000 square foot hotel opened in 1987 and features 50,000 square feet of common space, a restaurant, banquet facilities, meeting rooms, nightclub, health club and it’s own floatplane dock for sportfishing or “flightseeing” excursions.
Walsh Investment Company had lent money to another local developer who ended up not being able to finish the deal. When the bank in first position was ready to foreclose we had to decide whether to assume the full loan amount or lose the loan we had made to the developer. We thought it was a great opportunity so we took over the project.

The site was at a prime location near downtown Anchorage on the shores of Lake Hood with the Chugach Mountains as the backdrop. In 1938 deep channels were dug to connect Lake Spenard with Lake Hood to accommodate a float plane airport – a major source of transportation in Alaska. The west end of the lake is still known as Lake Hood, and the east end is Lake Spenard. Today this airport is the busiest float plane airport in world. The hotel is also just four miles from the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

Walsh secured the Clarion Hotel franchise for a 248-room full service hotel. We kept the name “Flying Machine” for the hotel bar in tribute to the bar we had previously owned and operated on the site.  Site planning included consideration of various waterfront issues and flight paths for the sea plane airport.

Common spaces for the  hotel were stick built, but with construction beginning in September, Walsh avoided the harsh winter by building rooms modularly, which was an innovative construction method in 1984. Room modules were built in Boise, trucked to Seattle, barged to Seward, and trucked to Anchorage.  This method allowed for rapid construction which started in September and finished in time for a June opening.

In the mid-90’s the hotel was “reflagged” with the Millenium Hotels brand and is known as The Lakefront Anchorage.

Investment Thesis

With tourists increasingly interested in exploring the Arctic wilderness and business associated with the TransAlaska Pipeline, he saw the need for an upscale hotel that could capture the mystique of the Last Frontier.
Historically high hotel occupancy rates in the market at the time indicated a need for additional rooms in the market. There were no lakefront hotels in Anchorage at the time and the hotel remains the only lakefront hotel in Anchorage to this day. Deals with airlines?