New Happenings in Alaska

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Glacier Discovery Train hiking.
Glacier Discovery Train hiking.

alaska railroad
Alaska Railroad
is launching all-inclusive dining on its GoldStar service this summer. Passengers who have opted for the GoldStar service will be able to enjoy any of the meals offered on the menu, including Alaska seafood and reindeer sausage, all included in the price of the GoldStar rail travel. Beverages, too, will be included, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, and a highlight are the local brews from Alaskan Brewing Company and Denali Brewing Company. GoldStar is available on the Denali Star train between Anchorage and Fairbanks and the Coastal Classic train between Anchorage and Seward.

Waterfall Resort, located right outside Ketchikan, is part of The Waterfall Group, and offers an idyllic setting with space for up to 92 guests. This intimate property offers select packages during the season, including Summer Solstice Photo Week, June 15-21, with a $500 discount; and the Dads & Grads Days, June 21-24, with every member of the family getting $100 off every night; plus groups of four get 25 percent off when they upgrade to a townhouse. Rates for three days, all-inclusive are $3,510 pp dbl.

alaska’s rainforest islands
Located in the heart of the Inside Passage, the rainforest islands of Petersburg, Prince of Wales Island and Wrangell offer verdant forests, glaciers, mountain scenery and bears. In fact, during the third week of July, there’s a 5-day festival on Wrangell that celebrates all things bear, the Bearfest. Events include a Bear Symposium with interactive discussions by renowned bear researchers and bear viewing site managers, safety workshops if encountering bears, photo workshops, and live music. The highlight of the festival is the trip to Anan Bear and Wildlife Observatory, an hour by boat from Wrangell. Here, visitors will see black and brown bears July through August feasting on pink salmon.

family fun!
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education and quality animal care, is home to bear, moose, eagle, elk, musk oxen, wood bison, caribou, porcupine, lynx, fox, black-tailed deer and more. The center, located near Girdwood, 47 miles south of Anchorage along the Seward Highway, is open to the public.

Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage.
Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage.

anchorage hotel gets a facelift
As part of brand-wide investments in its U.S. properties, Millennium Hotels and Resorts has announced an $8.3 million renovation plan for Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage, which is perched on the scenic shores of Lake Spenard just 10 minutes from downtown Anchorage. The upgrades encompass a total overhaul of the hotel’s 248 guestrooms along with the exterior. Guestrooms will evoke a high-end Alaskan lodge feel with natural earth tones and a warm color scheme. Renovations will be complete by spring. Upgrades were already made to the Fancy Moose Bar, the Flying Machine Restaurant and the outdoor deck at Lake Hood. Starting rates are $145.

swim with the sharks
Ravencroft Lodge
, a remote adventure lodge located in the heart of the Prince William Sound in Port Fidalgo Bay, and only accessible by boat or aircraft, is known for offering superb fishing activities, but they’ve upped the ante and now experiences include everything from paddleboarding and photo tours to eco-friendly adventures and salmon shark diving. According to lodge owner Daniel Boone Hodgin, this is the “only place where a large population of sharks can be predetermined to migrate to and actually allow a diver to film or photograph them with incredibly close encounters and interactions.” There is currently only one cabin available at the lodge, but the property is working on a second that will be available for the 2015 season. The Ravencroft Lodge will also be offering more weeks dedicated specifically to photography tours. or

100 years & counting!
This year, Anchorage turns 100 years old and celebrations are already underway. At the Anchorage Museum, for example, visitors can view “Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage” through Sept. 7. “City Limits,” on display through Oct. 11, features objects from the Anchorage Museum collection, including paintings, historical photographs, and artifacts. The exhibition begins with the Dena’ina, the original inhabitants of Anchorage, and extends to the events that brought people to Anchorage—from the railroad to oil. The celebrations continue through July, when the city celebrates the historic 1915 land auction that established the township of Anchorage.

let’s celebrate
The Centennial of the National Park Service is in 2016, making this coming year an ideal time to visit the parks in Alaska. The state’s 54 million acres of national parks provide plenty of options, including fishing in Resurrection Bay; hiking the Chilkoot Trail; biking to a ghost town—from the small town of McCarthy to the mining ghost town of Kennecott in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve—and kayaking Glacier Bay.

princess cruises
Princess Cruises
, which has seven ships offering more than 120 Alaska cruise departures during the summer season, has debuted its North to Alaska! onboard offerings, featuring a variety of authentic Alaska culinary, educational and entertainment experiences designed to delve deep into the destination. Highlights include “eat like a local,” “learn from the locals,” and “celebrate like a local.” Passengers can dine on Alaska seafood, learn about life as a lumberjack and participate in Midnight Sun deck parties. or

top of the world
The 70-room Top of the World Hotel opened in April 2014 in Barrow, the northernmost city in the U.S. As the gateway to the unique Arctic region, the property offers access to once-in-a-lifetime encounters such as exploring the Arctic Ocean, where visitors can view beluga and bowhead whales, walrus, and bearded seals. Other area attractions include the Whale Bone Arch, actual remnants of a bowhead whale, and the Iñupiat Heritage Center, with a rare collection of artifacts and exhibits that reflect the Alaskan Native people’s traditions, technology and history.

spotlight on fairbanks
Have clients who are yearning for some Midnight Sun? Tell them to head to Fairbanks, where there are 70 days straight of the Midnight Sun—May 17 to July 27. There are 3,000 hotel rooms, from B&Bs to high-end hotels, in this “quintessentially Alaska” city, where one can go panning for gold, hiking, fishing, and Aurora viewing from Aug. 21 to April 21.