Story last updated at 2:11 p.m. Thursday, August 22, 2002

Dimond Center Hotel business on rise
Chris Bernard
Happenings in Seldovia

The Dimond Center Hotel, in which Seldovia Native Association is the majority shareholder along with the neighboring Dimond Center shopping mall, opened earlier this summer, and according to General Manager Jessica Berry, business is picking up.

"It gets better every day as the word gets out," Berry said. "That's been part of the challenge for us. Opening up in the middle of summer was interesting."

June 1 was the opening day for the 109-room hotel, located adjacent to the Dimond Center and smack in the midst of South Anchorage's shopping district.

The hotel's amenities are a big draw for customers, she said. In addition to the onsite fitness center, visitors have access to the Dimond Center's enormous health club. The hotel also boasts a lounge, a breakfast bar and a courtyard.

"We also have a Starbucks espresso bar, and that's very popular," said Berry. "The amenities in the rooms themselves are spectacular. Each room has a 36-inch television and a 72-inch soaking tub. You can sit in your bathtub and watch your large-screen TV."

"We've been at or near our capacity at times during the summer," Berry said. "Our meeting rooms have been doing very well. We have two -- a large conference room, and a smaller board room. The large room seats about 65 people. A lot of local businesses meet there, and it's been very beneficial for the whole community.

"One of the things we want to do is get the word out to rural Alaska. This is the prime spot for rural Alaskans who come to Anchorage to shop, because they can do all of their shopping without leaving a two-block radius. We've got Sam's, Costco and Wal-Mart, plus the 170 shops in the Dimond Center mall," she said. "We're looking into offering packages for rural Alaskans. So far we haven't set anything in stone."

The grand opening went smoothly, she said, but the summer has not been without its quirks, and the 25-person hotel staff has been working to iron out the wrinkles.

"Of course there are bugs, that's the way the business works, and the way of new construction," Berry said. "For all the planning you do, there are still things that you just can't predict or anticipate."

In other Seldovia news, the city council is moving toward reinstating both the harbormaster and police deputy positions as full-time summer, part-time winter positions. The move will likely be introduced at next week's meeting, said Police Chief Andy Anderson.

"They're talking about doing away with the clerical position at the Police Department," he said. "That would be devastating. We're really going to feel the brunt of it. Number one, we're going to be in the office a whole lot more doing secretarial work instead of out on the street.

"A lot of the things we do now that are public relations and service related are going to need to stop," he said. "Also, with the part-time winter hours, I don't know how we're going to find someone certified who can afford to take that position."

The city council meets next on Wednesday.

Chris Bernard is a reporter for the Homer News. Items for this report can be e-mailed to him at cbernard@homernews.com.

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