JUNEAU — As the large, iconic yellow signs came down from the side of the Ramada by Wyndham hotel in Juneau — formerly known as the Prospector Hotel — Jessica Meacham watched with mixed emotions.
Meacham, manager at the hotel, has worked there since 2008, working her way up from being a breakfast waitress to her current position. Now, after Wyndham bought the Prospector in December, changes have come to the hotel, including the removal of the beloved signs.
"I'm not going to lie, I did get a little teary eyed," Meacham said, "but change is good. We're staying positive. We think this Ramada change is going to be really good for the hotel."
The hotel, though now branded as a Ramada by Wyndham franchise, still has local owners. Owners Joel Sims and Doug Andrew — who have owned the hotel for 12 years under the partnership called Juneau Hospitality LLC — chose to join the Wyndham franchise to increase the hotel's exposure, Sims said in an email.
As part of being absorbed by the international hotel chain, the hotel has different brand standards, Meacham said. The furniture, the beds, the bedding, the signage and more all have to be Wyndham-approved, she said. They've replaced the beds already and are working their way through everything else, Meacham said. The lobby will be laid out differently as well, Meacham said.
Meacham said there are numerous benefits to being a Wyndham property, Meacham said, including a better online reservation system.
The yellow signs, which carry the image of a gold rush-era prospector, tie into Juneau's history and have become a staple along Egan Drive on the downtown waterfront. They were designed by Judith and Rudy Ripley, and were installed in the early 1970s. Meacham said the Ripleys' grandson is coming by the hotel soon to look at the massive oval signs to get the first chance at taking them home.
If the grandson doesn't want them, the hotel will reach out to others in the community, Meacham said.
“I’m hoping that they find good homes,” Meacham said.