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Imagine a Pacific Northwest getaway where strangers easily become friends. Their kids safely play together outdoors. They splash in the pool, join in on pickleball in the park and throw some steaks on the barbecue just a few steps from their vacation rental.
That’s the concept behind The Lookout, a north central Washington village where visitors feel at home from the moment they arrive. Unlike standard hotels and resorts, it’s a pedestrian-friendly place composed of individual cottages. As it casts a congenial spell, it encourages interaction among vacation renters and homeowners.
My family and I recently spent a weekend at The Lookout, a three-and-a-half hour drive from Seattle. While there, Laura Harris, director of sales for The Lookout, told me that the property draws its design inspiration from New Urbanism, a design concept that emphasizes walkable towns with a human scale.
“We’ve made it easy to have a communal experience,” Harris said. “For instance, our cottages feature porches that are next to sidewalks, so people can chat with passersby. We have lots of gathering spaces, so guests can interact. You never know who you might meet at the fire pit while you’re making s’mores.”
To further that sense of community, Harris and her team present ongoing events such as poolside happy hour, potluck parties and outdoor movies.
The Lookout’s location sells itself. It’s perched on a bluff with panoramic views of the 50-mile-long Lake Chelan and the mountains embracing it. A short stroll or shuttle ride leads to the property’s picturesque cove and marina, where clients have access to waterskiing, paddleboarding, sailing and other aquatic fun.
Open since 2015, The Lookout will have 45 cottages available as vacation rentals by the end of 2017. Eventually, it will offer 300 cottages, 65 to 75 percent of which can be rented. Each home has its own name and personality. At press time, nightly rates range from $165 for a two-bedroom unit, which can sleep up to seven guests, to $599 for six bedrooms, which can sleep up to 20.
While The Lookout calls its accommodations cottages, that word is misleading. Instead, think fully-furnished, upscale dwellings. We stayed in the ultra-spacious Rendezvous, a three-story stunner with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half bathrooms, dining and living areas, a huge kitchen, a media/game room and a laundry room. On the wraparound porch stood a pair of bikes, ready for cruising.
So far, clients have responded enthusiastically to The Lookout’s philosophy, Harris says.
“We’ve started seeing repeat guests after just two years,” Harris said. “Clients who rent here can feel what it’s like to live in Chelan, which is a growing destination year-round.”
The property is a 2-mile drive from Chelan town, a visitor favorite with its array of restaurants and shops.
Markets for The Lookout include multigenerational travelers and young adults vacationing together. Active clients gravitate to the region’s many lures, such as hiking, skiing, horseback riding and sports events for runners, swimmers and hang gliders. In addition, wine and food lovers are raving about the 20-plus wineries in the area.
Since The Lookout is a work in progress, current guests might encounter some construction activity, although the village is being built neighborhood by neighborhood. Future plans call for an indoor pool, a spa, a market and a brewpub. For now, this innovative destination stands ready to welcome travelers to their home-away-from-home in Chelan.