Though already in use, Homer’s new Aspen Suites Hotel got a grand opening celebration last week while local elected officials celebrated bringing the business chain to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula.
The hotel is the latest in the chain owned by George Swift; there are Aspen Hotels in Soldotna, Kenai, Anchorage, Juneau, Haines and Sitka. The 72-room hotel across from Safeway on the Sterling Highway provides another option for visitors to Homer.
With construction beginning in May 2018, the project took just about a year to complete, Swift said at the grand opening ceremony.
“This is a great occasion when you open up a new business as large as this in a town our size,” said Homer Mayor Ken Castner.
Castner praised the chain’s owners for being cooperative and doing their best to make the project a success.
“The type of investment that this is shows a lot of faith in the community,” he said. “And it shows a lot of faith in the future of the community, and I certainly appreciate that as Mayor of Homer.”
Swift said the layout of the hotel is very similar to its counterparts in other parts of Alaska. He described the building process and how workers had to remove 9,000 yards of dirt and bring in 18,000 yards.
“It’s probably the largest excavation site we’ve ever done on any type of hotel we’ve developed,” he said. “… It was an overwhelming project just to get it to the level that it is.”
Swift said everything flowed well throughout the construction process, staying on schedule and on budget.
“We really embrace the communities that we go into,” Swift assured the crowd. “We really want to become part of communities, and as we get more established here you’ll see us out and about in the community at fundraisers and things like that.”
Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce was also present at the ribbon cutting. He congratulated Swift on the development and complimented the quality of the landscaping. He also reminded the small gathered crowd that rooms were still available that night for $99.
“(It’s) very positive to see a new development like this built in Homer and in the Kenai Peninsula for that matter,” he said. “One of the things we’re … hopeful for as well is an economic turn. You know we’ve seen a considerable amount of recession for a number of years, and of course in Alaska we’re hoping for better days. And I believe we haven’t seen the better days of Alaska.”