Seattle just gets cooler and cooler with every visit. And I’m not talking temperature. Every time I return to the Emerald City, I venture a few miles outside and always manage to find the cutest and most quaint towns – actual hidden gems that feel almost undiscovered by the rest of the world. This time I happened upon Woodinville, an adorable and flourishing town just East of Seattle, known to many Seattleites as a quick escape from the heavily populated city and a popular destination into wine country.
I stayed at Willows Lodge, a Northwest luxurious-style lodge located in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country. The hotel opened in September 2000 and has since been a selection for Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List, which is perfectly fitting thanks to all their amenities and warmth.
The cozy lodge features 84 luxury guestrooms, a full-service spa and a number of lounging and comfy spots to read a book or grab a glass of vino (I vote for doing both, but that’s just me) scattered throughout the property. Willows Lodge defines the entire idea behind comfortable luxury, providing an inviting atmosphere throughout every inch of the property. Each guest room has its own stone fireplace and deep soaking tub (mine had a great view to the fireplace and TV mounted just above), and the property itself is located on five beautiful acres, complete with beautiful gardens (including an herb garden) and bordering the Sammamish River. The hotel even has its own mascots – two Vietnamese potbelly pigs named Borage and Basil, plus it’s dog friendly. You’re not supposed to feed them or pet them, but hearing their ridiculous noises and looking around at the vast greenery surrounding you really puts Willows Lodge and all its glory into perspective.
Sitting areas are strategically laid out throughout the property encouraging guests to take in the Northwest luxury and simply reset your batteries.
Just outside the hotel sits a beautiful and extensive bike (or running) trail that will pretty much take you all the way to Seattle. It’s a perfect place for training, or a way for locals to ride their bikes into wine country foregoing any need for an actual vehicle. (For example, check out this article from Seattle Times.
Wine Talk in Woodinville
And then you remember you are right smack dab in the middle of Woodinville’s Wine Country. In fact, just steps from Willow’s Lodge is a little known area – the “Hollywood District” – which offers more than 20 wineries and tasting rooms and eateries within walking distance to Willows. And trust me when I say there is no shortage of wine and tasting rooms in Woodinville – see for yourself – luckily Willows offers a wine tour on the weekends for its guests to try to get as much sampling in as possible.
The entire tight-knit town of Woodinville is like something out of TV, but many years ago. With so many winemakers in the business, you’d think you’d see a more cutthroat approach to discussions and at events, but here you see the opposite. “How was your harvest,” kind of talk goes on while each winemaker brings one of his most recent finishes for the group to taste, all offering up constructive criticism and all knowing the business as if it were a second language. Because to them, it is a second language.
Woodinville is home to Chateau St. Michelle, but is also home to 107 other boutique wineries like Flying Dreams Wine, Patterson Cellars, Torii Mor (one of my personal favorites), Novelty Hill | Januik, and Pondera, which is not only a tasting room, but an art gallery and comfortable meeting space as well. All with very unique wines and setups and personalities waiting for you inside.
Too many wineries, not enough time. That should probably be Woodinville’s town slogan…or maybe it already is.
Spa Time Back at Willows
It’s no secret you can’t live without oxygen, so it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that oxygen facials are becoming all the rage. And rightly so. During my visit I checked out the Intraceuticals facial, which is the only treatment in the world that uses oxygen under pressure to deliver a special serum of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid, essential vitamins, botanicals, antioxidants and peptides to the skin. Seriously, with just one treatment, my skin was visibly and undeniably younger and firmer, not to mention it cost a whole lot less than Botox and wasn’t invasive and damaging to my skin. The facial promotes natural collagen and elastin production to improve skin texture and smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Sign me up for more! Intraceuticals professional skin care treatments and products are only available through top-rated plastic surgeons, dermatologists, destination resorts, hotels, estheticians and medi-spas. So if you make a trip to Willows Lodge, definitely look into booking a spa treatment – it will be worth the splurge, I can promise you.
Added bonus: complimentary wine and champagne in the waiting/relaxation room plus a steam room and outdoor Jacuzzi.
Holiday Happenings at Willows Lodge
Willows Lodge just announced its in-house 2014 holiday season happenings and events, including their sixth annual signature Holiday Boot Camp, a weekly series of cooking, baking and cocktailing classes aimed to help novices (like me!) navigate all the challenges that come with holiday entertaining. These classes are complimentary and fill up fast as they are on a first come, first serve basis. The next two classes are:
Wednesday, December 10: Holiday Desserts: Pastry Chef Matt Kelley will share the recipes and tips for his favorite holiday party sweets.
Wednesday, December 17: Holiday Cocktails: Wine Director Anthony Berkau & Cocktail Director Court Knoop will whip up a few of the Lodge’s favorite holiday cocktails and winter warming drinks.
The Lodge also officially launched its ultimate foodie stocking stuffer, Road Toad Seasoning, straight from Barking Frog restaurant and its food truck, Barking Frog Mobile Kitchen. If you know a kitchen lover, I’m sure this will be a treat for them!
Another upcoming event you’ll want to check out (tip: it’ll make a great holiday gift for a loved one or a great way to invest in yourself if you’re a writer) is the Women and Words Writer’s Retreat taking place January 31st with Jennifer Worick and Kerry Colburn who are bringing their combined forty years of experience to the table in hopes of helping aspiring authors achieve their dreams of getting published.
In addition to luxurious accommodations in a NICER-style room at Willows Lodge, guests will receive a welcome amenity, meals including dinner at the Barking Frog, and all workshops, as well as Jen & Kerry’s exclusive Publishing Toolkit (a $99 value) to take home. Pricing for “Women and Words at Willows Lodge” starts at $757 and is based on double occupancy. To make reservations or request more info, contact Kathleen Boyd at 425-424-2589 or Kathleen.email@example.com.
I’d venture to say there is still a lot more to be discovered in Woodinville – my trip was so busy running and keeping up with my training schedule, relaxing at the spa, taking in as many wineries and pinots as possible, and eating delicious food from The Barking Frog while watching Monday Night Football (note, they have 24 hour room service!), that it’s inevitable I missed some other good spots throughout Woodinville, so don’t worry, I’ll be back. And then I’ll report more on it.
Happy holidays to our favorite travelers!
Jayme Lamm is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Houston focusing on travel writing and is in a full-court press writing her hugely opinionated sports column, The Blonde Side. Be sure to follow Jayme’s travel and sports adventures on Twitter @jaymelamm.