As the Willows Lodge celebrates 20 years in the community, its staff applauds the triumphs accomplished with the help of General Manager Denny Fitzpatrick, who retires at the end of the year.
To honor this milestone, the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce named Fitzpatrick as the 2020 Winterfest grand marshal on Oct. 12. He will participate in the annual Christmas tree lighting alongside Mayor Elaine Cook on Tuesday, Dec 1.
“I have absolutely loved and cherished my time at Willows because it is such a special place, and the staff is incredible,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s a very, very, very hard place to leave.”
Robin Akkerman, associate director of sales at Willows, says Fitzpatrick left his mark as a legend at the hotel. He knew every employee’s name and would check-in daily with each team member on property, she added.
“Denny has always led with a gracious heart,” Akkerman said. “He is the type of leader that you want to respect, and you want to do your best work for him. Though humble, his resume personally and professionally is bigger than life, and I know that he appreciated being able to share his vast experience with different aspects of his community.”
Fitzpatrick said he semi-retired from Willows in September and will help transition in the new general manager until the end of the year. After six years at the lodge, he is most proud of the culture established throughout the hotel and among staff.
He said staff “carries the name and the reputation” of the Willows Lodge with every guest encounter. Employees are not just bag handlers, fireside waiters or banquet servers, he added.
“You can tell there is something very special in the atmosphere,” Fitzpatrick said.
Prior to his time at the lodge, he was the starting quarterback for the Huskies during his time at the University of Washington. After college, he said, an alumnus of the school offered him a position as a front desk agent at the Fairmont Olympic hotel in the heart of downtown, where he worked up through food and beverage and on to sales.
“It got in my blood and I loved it,” he said.
Fitzpatrick moved around the country, from Boston to California, with his wife and three daughters before settling down back in Seattle and working at Hotel 1000 in downtown.
The lodge’s Director of Sales Janene Varden said Fitzpatrick is one of her favorite general managers of all time. He is the kind of general manager that people want to work for again and again, she added.
“He instills in you a desire to be better today than you were yesterday. He is a culture builder, an inspirer, a coach and mentor,” Varden said. “We will miss his incredible passion and leadership at Willows, but look forward to carrying on his legacy of exemplary service for our guests and community.”