January 4, 2007 in City

Doug Clark: New Davenport tower: It’s a real jungle in there

Doug Clark The Spokesman-Review
 
Christopher Anderson photo

A stuffed tiger guards the Davenport Tower lobby as artist Melville Holmes paints African scenes on the far wall Wednesday. Spokane’s newest hotel facility is due to open in mid-January.
(Full-size photo)

When I first heard that Walt Worthy was erecting a 21-story, 328-room hotel based on an African safari theme right across the street from his landmark Davenport Hotel, I thought to myself …

“Hmm. I didn’t know poor Walt had suffered a debilitating head injury.”

As it turns out, however, the hotelier’s brain cells are functioning just fine. Not only has he followed through with his $40-some million idea, the place is way cool.

I should know. I spent New Year’s Eve in the new Davenport Tower.

That’s the official name for the new digs. But listen up. If I have anything to say, the hotel shall henceforth be unofficially known by the following name that I offer free of charge:

The Tarzan Tower.

Worthy probably won’t use it. Apparently, the hotel management has jumped through a few semantic hoops in their efforts to describe Davenport Tower.

Jungle theme was a runner-up. That led to African safari theme. Currently, the accepted tower term is “world travel theme.”

Oh, go kiss a warthog.

The tower features 300 artistic elephant heads that gaze down from the lobby walls. There are elaborate chandeliers adorned with jungle animals. A fireplace sitting area features elephant lamps and a table with elephants for legs. There’s a real mounted impala head on a wall.

There’s a genuine stuffed tiger centrally located on a lofty perch.

If all this doesn’t add up to a jungle safari extravaganza, what will?

Oh, yeah, about that tiger.

True story: It’s New Year’s Eve. I’m walking through the lobby when Mr. Worthy himself calls my attention to the proud beast, which he says came from the San Diego Zoo.

He points out the apparent smile on the feline’s face.

Worthy says the grin has something to do with the way the tiger expired – a heart attack from doing the wild thing.

Only Walt didn’t say “doing the wild thing.”

I’m liking the guy more each time I see him.

But getting back to today’s topic. It was a real treat staying in a joint where you could have the front desk send up more towels and a loincloth.

I was murdering hotel staff with that joke all during my stay.

A jungle motif actually isn’t so out of context for Spokane.

We have herds of exotic wildlife. True, our gazelles of the evening wear stiletto heels, belly shirts and can be seen offering their skanky wares around East Sprague during warmer months.

Spokane has also earned a reputation for apish behavior.

But enough about the cops.

The point is that Worthy and his wife, Karen, are to be commended for thinking outside the humdrum hotel box.

Their new tower has a showy, over-the-top Vegas feel. But at the same time there is nothing cheesy or cheap about it.

As with the posh Davenport, all the appointments are first rate.

The room I stayed in with my lovely wife, Sherry, had a flat-screen, high-definition TV. The walls featured paintings of two rhinos, one leopard, one elephant and four zebras.

(The zebra painting was signed by some artist named Dong. Just my luck!)

Marble countertops. Walk-in shower. There was a large leopard-print chaise lounge next to the sinfully soft king-sized bed. And speaking of adventurous boudoir safaris, the bed’s headboard was an enormous mirror.

(Insert wild Tarzan yell.)

Those of use who stayed in the tower on New Year’s were part of hotel history.

Worthy opened only 100 new rooms for a trial run. All of them, says Davenport spokesman Tom McArthur, were booked.

Wait a second. Does that mean…

“I am able to confirm that you were the first to defile that room,” added McArthur.

The tower was closed on New Year’s Day. Construction workers are now working like hamsters on crack to get the hotel ready for the State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships later this month.

As with all Worthy projects, I predict this Spokane lair of jungle exotica will succeed.

Oh, and I have one more prediction you can take to the bank.

PETA will not be booking a convention at the Tarzan Tower.


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