December 30, 2009 in Business

Northern Quest Casino hotel races 2010

Kalispel Tribe plans New Year’s Eve opening for ‘urban lodge’-style accommodations
By The Spokesman-Review
 
CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON photo

Workers are putting the finishing touches on the hotel on North Hayford Road in Airway Heights.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Late-arriving furniture and building material spilled out the main entrance of the Northern Quest Hotel on Monday afternoon as workers rushed to complete the 10-story building in time for New Year’s Eve.

Inside, dozens of beds remained unmade in the hotel’s 250 rooms. Pictures leaned against the walls. New employees were still being trained in the 10,000-square- foot Current Spa and Salon and in Masselow’s Restaurant, named for the chief who led the Kalispel Tribe 100 years ago.

Hotel Assistant General Manager Phil Haugen pointed to the archival photographs on the restaurant walls, and to one in particular. In the background of a picture he guessed was taken around 1940 is Antoine Isadore, his grandfather.

Greetings in Salish

The tribe, said Haugen and other hotel officials, aims to infuse the $80 million-plus hotel, on North Hayford Road in Airway Heights, with touches that connect guests with the Kalispels’ past and culture.

The chandelier that dominates one end of the lobby, for another example, is a giant blown-glass cattails characteristic of the tribe’s reservation on the Pend Oreille River. A Heritage Hallway with displays of Kalispel artifacts and images connects the lobby to the casino. Restaurant guests will be greeted in Salish, the Kalispel language.

From near bankruptcy 11 years ago, Haugen said, the Kalispel Tribe has become an economic force employing 2,000, with $200 million invested in the Northern Quest Hotel and Casino.

“Our goal is to help attract more visitors to the Inland Northwest to enjoy the great outdoors, shopping, dining and entertainment assets our community has to offer,” said Kent Caputo, chief operating officer of the Kalispel Tribal Economic Authority.

Standing in a lobby decorated in a style he called “urban lodge,” he said construction has gone smoothly, especially when compared to last year’s casino expansion, which was hampered by heavy snows that delayed delivery of building materials.

Hotel-wide Wi-Fi

Caputo said he expects the hotel to open on time Thursday, the last-minute chaos notwithstanding.

Upstairs, lights turn on automatically when guests enter their rooms. Desktop-level plugs are available for recharging cell phones, computers and other devices that can connect with the hotel-wide Wi-Fi system. Televisions up to 60 inches in suites deliver video-on-demand services. All rooms have safes and refrigerators that can be custom-stocked before check-in.

And then there is “The Bed,” custom-designed with Northwest Bedding and for sale by the hotel.

“We intend to sell a lot of them,” said Jeff Duke, the executive director of hotel operations.

Duke said 75 percent of the fixtures and furnishings were specially made for the hotel, some by Spokane craftspeople. Local artist Tina Johansen created prints incorporating Kalispel historical photographs that hang in many of the 228 rooms and 22 suites that range up to 1,800 square feet in size.

Rates will start at $139 a night.

Downstairs, in the spa, eight treatment rooms are clustered around a whirlpool bath, with a nearby pool and exercise room. The showers allow users to program music and lighting.

Director Robin Jones said each guest will be escorted by one of 25 staff members to ensure personal attention.

Haugen said business at the resort has held up well considering the economy.

“We’re very happy to be holding our own,” Haugen said.

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