June 26, 2000
by Bronwyn Wilson, senior staff reporter
WOODINVILLE--With one exception, Woodinville has everything for an out-of-town visitor to see and do.
Besides horseback riding, hot air ballooning, and kayaking, there are touring and tasting at the Red Hook Brewery and the area wineries. Add to this, inline skating and biking on the Sammamish River Trail, and shopping and browsing amidst Molbak's horticultural splendor. And yet with all this, Woodinville has not had a hotel ... until now. Soon, tourists, out-of-town relatives, business people, and even locals will have a place to stay in the city.
Willows Lodge is coming to town. Scheduled to open Sept. 12, the 88-room Northwest-style lodge won't move in with a shy "don't mind me" hello, but with great big "here I am" embrace.
The luxurious establishment will sit on five beautifully landscaped acres featuring a 3,000-square-foot spa, garden courtyards, an herb garden, a fitness center, and 3,835 square feet of meeting space. It will also be home to two restaurants: a bistro quaintly called The Barking Frog, and The Herbfarm, renowned for its nine-course seasonal menus.
Next door to the Red Hook Brewery, the Willows Lodge site was chosen because of its premier location near Western Washington's wineries and Woodinville's attractions. The Lodge hopes to draw the leisure crowd on weekends and those from the corporate world during the week.
"We're becoming known as the Silicon Forest," James Simkins, General Manager, says referring to the area's companies--Microsoft, Attachmate, Nintendo, and others that make up the Northwest's version of Silicon Valley.
Simkins describes the new hotel as having rustic elegance with a degree of country ambiance in exquisite, fine taste. He explains that the rooms will have massive wood beams recycled from old buildings at Portland's waterfront. "It's beautiful timber," he says.
He also says that the slate bases from pool tables were recycled and used to make the desks in the rooms. With cedar shake siding, sliding French doors, a 9 1/2-foot ceiling height, fireplaces, and hand-crafted furniture by Northwest artisans, the rooms are appointed with detail and innovation. "We want to appeal to people's imaginations," Simkins says.
The hotel touts itself as a "celebration of the senses" on the Lodge's website. And Simkins' plans for his patrons to know what this means. He wants Willows Lodge guests to check-out happily saying, "That was a real experience."
And not only this, but he'd also like them to leave saying the time they spent sleeping was a wonderful experience as well. "We will be providing the best bed in the business," Simkins says, not in a boastful way, but how one would say something while trying not to blow the surprise. "It will truly be an exceptional sleeping experience," he adds.
But until the time draws closer for Willows Lodge to open, Simkins won't elaborate further on the exceptional "sleeping experience."
A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, General Manager James Simkins brings to Willows Lodge his warm, hospitable nature and more than twenty-five years of management experience. He has managed hotels around the world, including the Kowloon Shangri-La in Hong Kong and The Westin Sydney in Australia. Developed by Philip Sherburne and Tony Puma, Willows Lodge will be operated by MTM Management, L.L.C. with Simkins as a partner in the development.
MTM Management, L.L.C. operates a collection of five independently-owned, luxury, full-service lodging establishments in the Northwest, including the Sorrento Hotel in Seattle, The Woodmark Hotel in Kirkland, the Resort Semiahmoo in Blaine, and the Freestone Inn in Mazama.
Sherburne sums up, "Willows Lodge will be the ideal romantic destination for the discerning traveler looking for a weekend getaway, as well as for conferences looking for easy access to Seattle and the Eastside communities."
For further information, visit www.willowslodge.com.