Taking It All In

A Washington boutique hotel benefits from a prime location

By: By Marty Wentzel

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The Details

Hotel Bellwether
One Bellwether Way
Bellingham, WA 98225

Rates: Nightly rates range from $156 to $509, and from $473 to $710 for the Lighthouse Suite.

Packages: The Go Fly a Kite package, which includes a picnic lunch and a kite, begins at $172 per night. A golf package that includes breakfast for two, a $20 bistro credit, balls and one round of golf starts at $257 per night. A Whale of a Good Time package, which includes breakfast and dinner for two and a full-day whale-watching tour through Bellingham Bay and the San Juan Islands, is priced from $563 for two nights.

The Hotel Bellwether is a textbook example of the power of location. Set in the northwest Washington city of Bellingham, 90 miles north of Seattle, it’s an ideal home base for clients looking to explore the region’s great outdoors.

During a recent visit to the 65-room getaway, I saw people enjoying the surroundings in any number of ways. Boats pulled right up to the hotel’s private dock, which doubles as the starting and ending point for sea-kayaking and whale-watching excursions. Joggers and walkers took advantage of the nearby trail system, while bikers navigated the routes of surrounding Whatcom County. People practiced their strokes on the five-hole putting green, while others flew kites in the neighboring park by the harbor.


 The Hotel Bellwether boasts its own private marina dock.// © Hotel Bellwether

“Our location is a key selling point, especially the marina, world-class outdoor recreation and access to the culture, restaurants and entertainment of Bellingham,” said Hotel Bellwether sales director Gina Mazzeo. “The San Juan Islands are a short boat ride away, and Mount Baker is just a one-hour drive away.”

Mazzeo said that the Bellwether appeals mostly to affluent clients and travelers aged 40 and older.

“We target clients in the market for romantic getaways and those looking for outdoor activities and water adventures,” she said.

A majority of the property’s guests come from the greater Seattle area; Vancouver, British Columbia; Oregon; and California. That may change, however, since the hotel joined the Preferred Hotel Group in 2008.

“Joining the Preferred Hotel Group is now giving us global exposure,” said Mazzeo. “We have been able to reach new markets with different campaigns, and with our reservation system through the Preferred network, our hotel is highlighted with different travel agencies.”

Accommodations are at once comfortable and cozy. Each room comes with a jetted tub, fireplace and balcony, plus amenities such as wireless high-speed Internet, room service and daily newspaper delivery. But in terms of accommodations, there’s nothing quite like the hotel’s Lighthouse Suite, a freestanding, 900-square-foot, three-story oasis built to look like a real lighthouse. The suite’s observation deck presents panoramic views of the bay and the San Juan Islands.

The hotel’s Harborside Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge stands out for its Pacific Northwest cuisine — some of the best in Bellingham — and its appetizing marina and bay views. For gatherings, a ballroom holds up to 700 people for receptions, while a terrace accommodates up to 300. Smaller meeting rooms are suitable for groups from 10 to 100 people.

To remain competitive, the Bellwether is continuing to upgrade its services. It recently launched shuttle service to the Bellingham Airport, Amtrak station and the ferry terminal. Breakfast will soon be included in the room rates. And, it just released a series of value-added summer packages.

Among the current promotions is a golf package providing play on some of Washington’s best greens. Participating courses include Shuksan, an 18-hole gem with terrain ranging from steep ridges to gentle meadows; North Bellingham, a Scottish-style venue with panoramic views of Mount Baker; Lake Padden, a traditional 18-hole course carved out of a second-growth forest; and Sudden Valley, a host to many major Northwest tournaments.

With the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver approaching, travel agents should keep Bellingham — and the Bellwether — on their radar for clients seeking accommodations just outside of British Columbia. The hotel is located 20 miles south of the U.S./Canada border and 90 minutes from Vancouver.

“We know that the Bellingham area will be receiving a lot of exposure leading up to the Olympics,” said Mazzeo. “We are looking forward to working with the customers and organizers of sports travel who will be staying with us during that time.”