The Coeur d’Alene Resort, which transformed North Idaho’s tourism industry 25 years ago, reopened its first floor to the public Wednesday after a two-month remodel.
The 35,000-square-foot makeover includes new décor for the lobby and the Dockside Restaurant, more space devoted to the fitness area and an expansion of Whispers, a bar and lounge.
“We want people to feel like it’s a brand new place,” said architect Guy Dreier of Palm Desert, Calif.
The remodel replaced the resort hotel’s original navy and tan décor with brighter blues and greens. Larger skylights increased natural light on the first floor and hundreds of soft lights were installed to brighten the area. Planters feature New Zealand laurels, and the Brazilian granite has splashes of green.
Koi imported from Niigata, Japan, swim in a 22,000-gallon aquarium. Still-life paintings of desserts are displayed at the Dockside’s entrance. And Whispers lounge was expanded to include an outdoor seating area overlooking the lake.
Dreier also designed homes in Palm Desert and on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Casco Bay for Duane Hagadone, the resort’s owner.
The new look preserves the lakeside hotel’s relaxed ambience, while updating the resort’s image, said Jerry Jaeger, Hagadone Hospitality’s president and a part-owner of the company.
“We’re still a casual resort operation,” he said. “Our guests don’t have to wear ties.”
Jaeger said that construction costs are about 20 percent to 25 percent less than they were four years ago, which made it an ideal time to undertake a multimillion-dollar remodeling project.
After the Coeur d’Alene Resort opened in 1986, aggressive marketing turned “Coeur d’Alene” into a brand. People who attended conventions at the resort returned for vacations and second-home purchases. The activity helped transform the city from a sawmill town into a resort destination.
Conventions and meetings make up about half of the business for the resort hotel. After a couple of slower years, convention bookings are up 10 percent in 2012 compared with last year, Jaeger said.
The remodel was planned with the convention market in mind, he said.
“Our strategy is to improve the convention dimension,” Jaeger said. “We want to be among the first to emerge from this economic downturn and to secure the future of our 1,850 workers.”
During the peak summer months, the resort hosts national conventions and meetings from the Western United States. During the rest of the year, most of the business comes from the Pacific Northwest.
Spokane also remains an important market for the Coeur d’Alene Resort, with local residents heading to North Idaho to enjoy the lake and celebrate special events, Jaeger said.
“We wouldn’t be here without Spokane,” he said. “We’re Spokane’s playground.”
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