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Doug Clark: Hey, Harry, our new hotel will be just grand, thanks

Doug Clark
Doug Clark

What has Harry Sladich been smoking?

I felt compelled to ask after digesting his recent oddly timed and snarky remarks about the Grand Hotel Spokane that Walt Worthy is constructing in the heart of downtown’s convention district.

Sladich doesn’t think the hotel’s brand affiliation – the Marriott’s Autograph Collection – has the right sort of pizzazz that Spokane needs to lure gatherings of (harrumph, harrumph) consequence.

“The bottom line is we needed a ‘demand generator’ and we simply did not get one,” noted Sladich in our news coverage.

“Meeting planners are simply unaware of what the Autograph Collection is.”

“Eeeeeeeeeee …”

That’s the sound a gnat makes when it gets all whiny and bothered.

Sladich is a wheel with Red Lion Hotels.

More importantly, he’s the former president of the Spokane Convention and Visitors Bureau, so his words still carry a certain amount of weight, I guess.

But riddle me this:

Do you think ol’ Harry would’ve expressed such negativity about Worthy back when he made his living as the town’s top whoopee-cushion man?

Not on your press release, pal.

Don’t defecate inside your own tent. That’s the First Commandment of the hospitality and tourism trade.

Oh, I know. Sladich believes his intentions are pure as Perrier.

According to the story he’s been a regular Paul Revere, relaying his Grand Hotel warnings to officials within the Public Facilities District and even to Worthy’s management team.

But what good can come from laying this bad juju on Worthy’s latest project before the edifice is even up and running? Not a speck of good that I can see.

The Autograph Collection will do the job – or it won’t. I’m not the guy to ask.

My experience in the hospitality biz amounts to the year my lovely wife, Sherry, and I spent managing a tacky 20-unit apartment complex on the North Side.

I remember this one tenant, a heavy boozer, who liked to toss a Bowie knife into one of his living room walls while watching TV.

Not long after that I got into journalism.

That’s why I now get to say that Worthy deserves our support. He earned it by rescuing and restoring the Davenport Hotel.

Remember back then? Some of the town’s big shots thought Walt and his wife, Karen, were nuttier than a Payday bar for pumping the kind of money they did to save an old rundown heap of a hotel.

Some of the naysayers, I recall, argued that it made better economic sense to tear the Davenport down and use the real estate for parking. Yet Worthy persisted and Spokane is so much the better for it.

Now he’s embarked on creating this $134 million Grand Hotel with 15 stories and 716 rooms.

“I feel confident in Walt’s decision,” said Kevin Twohig, CEO of Spokane’s Public Facilities District, in our news story.

“It’s his money.”

Good point.

Sladich should keep his trap shut about demand generators and all that other self-serving hooey and remember that First Commandment.

I wouldn’t worry about the Worthys. They have a history of coming out on top.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432

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