Island Distinctions

Five island accommodations unite to benefit travelers

By: Marty Wentzel

While many Pacific Northwest islands are defined by their different regions, the Camano community is working together to promote its picturesque 40 square miles as a unified destination, a one-hour drive north of Seattle and linked to the mainland by a bridge.

Case in point is Camano Island Lodging (CIL), an alliance between five island accommodations with distinctive selling points and a common goal.

“Together, we can consolidate marketing expenses, gift certificate programs, interaction with tourism groups, outreach to the community and information-sharing,” said CIL member Michael Handley, who runs Camano Blossom B&B with his wife Melissa. “This also benefits travelers, who can better select exactly where they wish to stay based on amenities, views, rooms and special features.”

While enjoying the partnership of the group, Handley sets Camano Blossom B&B apart by touting the culinary talents of Melissa, a gourmet Chinese chef.

“We have a large following of people seeking Melissa’s cooking classes, and we also offer Mandarin and Taiwanese language classes,” he said.

Clients staying at his B&B also enjoy an upscale decor and views of Mt. Baker and Skagit Bay.

Another CIL participant is Camano Lakeside Cottage, a two-bedroom vacation rental.

“All of the five members charge a 2 percent state motel-hotel tax, a portion of which goes to advertising while the rest goes back to the county,” said Camano Lakeside Cottage owner Karen Legee. “Each of us has different amenities to offer, so no one feels threatened by the others.”

With her husband Michael, Legee has fashioned a cozy dwelling notable for its lake views, whimsical spiral staircase, well-furbished full kitchen and functioning pump organ.

“We wanted to create a getaway on the island, something different from a room in a B&B,” said Legee. “It’s great for people who want to unplug from the corporate world; who want to get out of the maze and just relax.”

For Camano Island accommodations of another sort, clients can book a stay at CIL member The Inn at Barnum Point. Perched on a bluff overlooking a saltwater bay, the B&B provides rooms with queen beds, fireplaces and private baths. It’s run by Carolin Barnum Dilorenzo, whose grandfather came to the island in 1904.

Dilorenzo enjoys sharing Camano Island stories with clients who come to stay.

“Not only is this a beautiful spot, but I have many pleasant memories of past events here,” she said. “I built and opened the inn in 1992, when I returned to fulfill a dream of living on the island after my children were raised.”

Dilorenzo sees CIL as a great resource.

“We have been able to alert each other when things work well and when things don’t work,” she said.

A completely different lodging experience awaits at CIL member Spirit Ridge Inn, covering 15 acres in a forest at the highest point on Camano Island.

“We built the inn for several reasons,” said owner Kurt Asplund, “including housing a library for my books and allowing my wife Leslie, a psychotherapist, to hold workshops for her clients.”

Billed as a retreat center as well as a B&B, the solar-powered building provides panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains and the waters of Puget Sound.

Asplund said CIL has made a positive impact on his inn’s business.

We enjoy friendships with the owners of the other [members of the group],” he said. “When our rooms are booked, we refer inquirers to the others and vice-versa.”

The fifth CIL member, Camano Island Waterfront Inn, hugs the island’s western shores, presenting a prime site for views of eagles, seals, otters and whales. While enjoying the benefits of joint marketing, owners Kari and Jon Soth emphasize the unique romance of their six-room B&B, where each unit has its own phone, television, VCR, private deck and private bath. They even offer tours by appointment only, so as not to disturb guests.

It’s one of the many examples of how Camano Island residents cherish their individuality while coming together to promote it.


The following is contact information for the five members of Camano Island Lodging, all of whom pay travel agent commissions:

Camano Blossom B&B


Camano Island Waterfront Inn


Camano Lakeside Cottage


Inn at Barnum Point


Spirit Ridge Inn