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Willows one of the ‘greats’

Sun., Aug. 1, 2004, midnight

In the delightful Travel Channel series “Great Hotels,” hostess Samantha Brown takes us on sometimes quirky tours of the nation’s best places. She’d no doubt like the Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Wash.

She’d run her hands over the slate tables in the guest rooms — rescued from old pool tables complete with holes from the ball pockets. She’d purr about the 120-year-old planks recycled from a demolished Port of Portland building, gush about the computer for guests to check e-mail and snuggle in the plush terry robes. She’d bark at Gus, the lodge’s “guest service hound.” Rescued from the pound, the aging and gentle dog spends his days stretched out in a corner of the lobby waiting for pets.

She would also chat up the hotel’s Northwest lodge look, with stone fireplaces, wooden beams and black iron in the large guest rooms, lobby and mezzanine library. She’d applaud the $1 million in art and another $1 mil in landscaping, with an herb garden and a pig and duck pen, a highlight of the five acres of grounds, and she’d point out the burned-out, 1,500-year-old cedar in the driveway.

A wine lover, she’d rave about the 16 nearby wineries, with Chateau Ste. Michelle and Columbia next door. The former is one of the state’s top tourist attractions, drawing a quarter of a million people annually.

An enthusiast for bathrooms, Sam — as she likes to introduce herself — would bubble about the giant soaking tubs (open to the rest of the room), the rechargeable electric “candles” and the Molton Brown toiletries. Then she’d repeat a tip she offered in the episode about a Ritz Carlton property on the California coast: Since the bath products come in dispensers attached to walls, bring empty plastic bottles so you can take some home. (That Sam, what a card.)

With Australian lambswool mattress pads, 300-count Egyptian sheets and Italian duvets, sleep and relaxation come easy here. The full-service spa and outdoor hot tub help, too. Romance also comes easy, with soft music drifting out of the CD player and the glowing fireplace and candles.

The property holds two fine restaurants, Barking Frog and the Herb Farm, the only AAA Five Diamond dining establishment in the Northwest. The Herb Farm serves only nine-course dinners with six matched wines (Thursday through Sunday nights, 425-485-5300, www.theherbfarm). Willows guests enjoy complimentary breakfast at Barking Frog. There’s also the Red Hook brewery’s pub next door.

Willows rates start at about $180, and the lodge offers a variety of packages, all outlined on its Web site.

Details: (877) 424-3930;;

Not-so-great hotel

After a wonderful night at the Willows Lodge, we drove down to Redmond to get close to SeaTac for our flight to Dallas. I found a cheap place with extended parking on $59.99 with seven nights of parking and $4.99 for additional days at the Best Value Inn Airport. It sounded great — and the price was.

At least we found our bed comfortable. The TV wouldn’t hold a picture, and there was no vertical adjustment button, so I called the front desk. Another television arrived, but alas, that failed to get any picture. The third, built sometime in the last century, actually functioned. Neither of the bedside lamps operated. Both looked like they would topple at any minute.

The room’s most interesting feature, though, was a piece of carpet the size of a welcome mat bolted — yes, bolted — on top of the other carpet. (The TV was also bolted down.)

Tip: After finding those prices on, I called the Best Value Inn (425-251-9591). The clerk could not match the deal, so I went back to the Web.

New hotels in Redmond, B.C.

There’s a new place to stay in downtown Redmond: the Redmond Marriott Town Center, with “individual climate control.” Does that mean your side of the bed can be cooler or hotter than the other?

Anyway, Marriott boasts that the new spot is Redmond’s first full-service hotel. It’s big, too, with 262 rooms. (800-455-8254;

Speaking of Marriott, there’s a new one in Victoria, B.C. — the 236-room Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour in the heart of the city by the Parliament Buildings and Beacon Hill Park. It offers outdoor patios, rooftop concierge lounge, indoor pool and more. (800-228-9290;

Poets Cove Resort & Spa on Pender Island, just off the east coast of Vancouver Island, B.C., claims to offer old-world romance and charm of such classic poets as Tennyson, Wordsworth and Browning. It’s a short ferry ride from Victoria, with a 22-room lodge, 15 seaside cottages, nine villas, marina, pool, waterfront plaza and more. (888-512-7638;

Regional events

• A Taste of Edmonds, Aug. 13-15, Edmonds, Wash. Arts, crafts and food booths, kids area with rides and (guess what?) booths, four stages of entertainment, beer and wine garden — and voted one of the top 100 events in North America. (425-776-6711; /Taste)

• Burnt Hole Rendezvous/Historical Re-enactment, Aug. 15-21, West Yellowstone, Mont. This annual Mountain Man Rendezvous features a tomahawk and knife throw, black-powder shoot and a primitive camp with traders selling and demonstrating pre-1840s crafts. (406-646-7110)

• Ignite the Nights, Aug. 20-22, Libby, Mont. This event features some 180 cars and trucks along with a neon contest, flame-throwing competition, cruising, poker run, car show and burn-out contest (the Rolling Stones should win that). Plus, there’s a rock show (no, the Stones won’t be there). (406-293-6598)


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