When Bob Cooper wants to lure a profitable company to the Inland Northwest, he takes the business executives to The Coeur d’Alene Resort.
“It’s one of the best ways to show off the area,” said the president of the Spokane Area Economic Development Council. “We’ve probably closed more deals sitting up in Beverly’s (Restaurant) looking out over the lake.”
Duane Hagadone intended to bring some “sizzle” to Coeur d’Alene when he built his first-class hotel and convention center 10 years ago.
While some hoteliers questioned the wisdom of the enormous investment, Hagadone said he was acting on a “gut feeling” that it would succeed.
If you ask Cooper and others who admire the colossal landmark, Hagadone’s instincts were dead-on.
The five-star resort is credited with drawing businesses to the area, putting Coeur d’Alene “on the map,” boosting the economy and contributing to North Idaho’s recent growth spurt.
The resort celebrated its 10-year anniversary and the grand opening of its expanded convention center and “European Spa” Wednesday with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.
With its room service to marina slips, massages for guests, telephones in the bathrooms and other amenities, The Resort has virtually nothing in common with its working-class roots.
Once upon a time, the downtown shoreline was busy with boat-builders, welders, machine workers, railcars and tugboats. The shoreline changed with the construction of Bob Templin’s North Shore hotel in the 1960s.
The hotel expanded to 180 rooms and two restaurants, but in the early 1980s Hagadone forcibly bought out Templin. In 1986, construction was finished on the $60 million Coeur d’Alene Resort, which incorporated portions of the old North Shore.
A five-hour line snaked through City Park as 20,000 people gathered for the May 4, 1986, grand opening.
“I was one of those folks who stood in line for the tour,” recalled Nancy DiGiammarco, director of the Kootenai County Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She remembers Hagadone and partner Jerry Jaeger shaking everyone’s hand. Now she marvels at how much things have changed in Kootenai County as a result of the hotel.
“It has been a catalyst … in making tourism the number one industry in Kootenai County,” she said.
Statewide, tourism is the second largest industry. The resort has played no small role in that statewide market. In fact, it’s been featured in international travel publications.
“Up until recent times, if you were saying Idaho to anyone, they would respond ‘potatoes’ and then they would say ‘Sun Valley,”’ said Carl Wilgus, state tourism director. “Now they’ll say ‘potatoes,’ and the second breath they’ll say ‘Coeur d’Alene’ and ‘Sun Valley.”’
As longtime Coeur d’Alene resident and downtown booster Brad Jordan describes it, The Resort “put Coeur d’Alene in the big-leagues, as far as being able to draw conventions and people into the community.
“We were about in the bottom of the gutter in the mid-‘80s,” said Jordan, who owns a real estate company. “The hotel played an important part in drawing people into the community and creating the expansion boom we’ve had in the last few years.”
City officials managed to guarantee public access to the marina boardwalk and preserve some of the skyline through a planned unit development process.
“The involvement of the community made it the unique place that it is,” said Steve McCrea, who served on the City Council during negotiations with Hagadone.
“It’s changed Coeur d’Alene, because it’s brought a lot of people here,” McCrea said. “It’s certainly exposed Coeur d’Alene to the rest of the world.”
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