Distinctive Decor

The Willows Lodge rooms have high ceilings, a gas fireplace and elaborate entertainment center

By: Marty Wentzel

WOODINVILLE, Wash. Like the basset hound at the front door, Willows Lodge isn’t pretentious. Instead, it’s a comfortably upscale retreat that’s right at home in the Northwest.

The 86-room hotel recently adopted a basset named Gus, who greeted me in the lobby during my hosted visit. “The first week he was here, three different clients wanted him to stay in their rooms,” said Willows Lodge spokeswoman Rhanda Rosselot.

It took me just 20 minutes to drive from Seattle to the lodge, which opened in September 2000 on five rural acres by the Sammamish River. I felt an immediate sense of place when I walked into the lobby, with its massive Douglas fir timbers, cut 100 years ago to build the Port of Portland.

Willows Lodge sits within walking distance of two high-profile wineries, Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia, and a short drive from the DeStefano, Facelli and Silver Lake wineries, all with regular hours for visitors.

Capitalizing on its location, the lodge presents a nightly tasting of Northwest varietals in its fireside lounge, from 5-7 p.m.

My guest room boasted ten-foot-high ceilings, a gas fireplace and an elaborate entertainment center with a radio, 27-inch television and CD and DVD players, with free music and movie rentals.

My in-room coffee and tea service was a lavish setup with a plug-in teakettle, French press, ground coffee, loose-leaf teas, an infusing strainer and porcelain teapot; and there was a supply of cream in the noiseless refrigerator. The bathroom had such distinctive touches as a green marble washbowl, walk-in shower and a big Jacuzzi tub with sliding doors opening to the bedroom.

As a guest of Willows Lodge, I got a free daily newspaper and high-speed Internet access. Room rates include continental breakfast in the lounge, with pastries, fruit, Northwest coffee, fresh-squeezed juices, lox and bagels.

Hotel Review

Hits: The building’s Northwest-inspired design of exposed beams, rich woods and slate floors.

Misses: No swimming pool; small workout room.

Clientele: 70 percent groups, 30 percent leisure guests.

Be Aware: Nightly wine-tasting costs $10 per person.

Outlets: At least six per room, including one which is easily reached from the writing desk.

Rates: Nightly from $260-$750 through May 31, 2003, with packages from $330-$1,600 per couple.