The Art of Living

In downtown Seattle, a hotel offers a unique selling point

By: Marty Wentzel

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Exterior of the Alexis Hotel
and Bookstore Bar.
Think of The Alexis Hotel as a blank palate, ready to absorb the colors and patterns of each client’s preferences. That’s the unique selling point of the downtown Seattle hotel, whose Art of Living theme reveals itself from the moment each booking is made.

Like a gallery curator, Alexis concierge Joseph Eames contacts guests to make them feel welcome before they set foot on the property. Prior to my visit, he sent me an engaging e-mail, giving me carte blanche to contact him for advance preparations. He even asked what magazines I prefer, and sure enough, the latest issues were waiting for me in my room.

The Kimpton-run property recently revealed the results of a six-month, $10 million renovation of its guestrooms, meeting spaces and lobby, its first major renovation since 1992. According to officials at Dawson Design Associates, which orchestrated the work, the makeover was meant to “engage the hotel guest in an experience akin to visiting the home of an art collector.” Clients with an aesthetic sense should take their time walking between the lobby and their rooms. On the way, they will pass through the signature Alexis Art Walk, which features works by Pacific Northwest painters overseen by a Seattle Art Museum curator. Returning guests will notice that the collection changes every quarter.

Twelve guestrooms were added during the remodel, bringing the total to 121, including specialty suites created in partnership with local arts organizations.

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A muted color scheme highlights the
design features in guestrooms.
“We really want to emphasize the sheer size of our rooms,” Alexis Hotel general manager Andrew Wright told me. “Many of our suites are 700 to 1,000 square feet.”

Like a gallery, my room featured a muted color scheme that didn’t interfere with design accents. Innovative furnishings ranged from a rococo mirror, ornate buffet and chaise lounge to a modern Keilhauer desk chair. All accommodations indulge guests with 300-thread-count sheets, feather down bedding, 32- or 40-inch LCD high-definition flat-screen televisions, cordless phones and Aveda bath products.

The hotel also transformed its meeting and banquet space. The new 1,365-square-foot Grand Parlor makes a statement with handsome, exposed brick walls and floor-to-ceiling windows, while the 620-square-foot Gallery Room beckons with a wood-burning fireplace and plenty of natural light.

The location of the Alexis lends itself nicely to the Art of Living theme. Set in one of the city’s most creative hubs, its cutting-edge neighborhood plays home to such inspiring local landmarks as the newly expanded Seattle Art Museum, colorful Pike Place Market, lively Seattle waterfront, historic Pioneer Square and dozens of upscale art and antique galleries, all within walking distance.

The hotel’s packages encourage creative lifestyles. Case in point is the Extreme Adventure at the Alexis Hotel, new for 2008. Underscoring the hotel’s commitment to environmentally aware initiatives, officials have partnered on the package with local eco-friendly company Evergreen Escapes. Clients get deluxe accommodations, a power breakfast, guided transportation in a biodiesel jeep, a two-hour ropes course challenge in the nearby town of Woodinville, and their choice of a guided winter adventure (either ice climbing up a mountain and skiing down, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing or steep skiing). Rates, priced for four people in two rooms with two queen beds, start at $2,500 per night.

Other imaginative packages from the Alexis include Downtown Divas, which pampers gal pals with a treatment at the hotel’s Etherea Spa, a $50 certificate toward perfume, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne, Nordstrom personal shopper services, town car transfers to and from the store and a pint of ice cream at turndown (from $475). Culture vultures selecting the Art of the Perfect Weekend get admission for two to the Seattle Art Museum, 10 percent discount at the museum store, breakfast and a set of watercolors and blank postcards (from $309 through Dec. 29). Holiday travelers booking It’s a Wonderful Package stay in a fireplace suite, savor welcoming hot cocoa and cookies, receive a DVD copy of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or $15 gift certificate to the hotel’s Bookstore Bar, and take home a glass ornament (from $359 through Jan. 31).

In so many ways, the hotel helps clients unleash their inner artist, as I discovered during the nightly complimentary wine service, where like-minded souls joined in lively conversation and watercolor dabblings. No matter what your client’s fancy, the Alexis reminds its guests that travel is a specialized art form in its own right.


Alexis Hotel
1007 First Ave. Seattle, WA 98104

Rates: from $175-$579 per night
Commission: 10 percent
Travel Agent Rate: From $125 per night based on availability

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