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City of Roses' Other Flower

February 12, 2007 By: David Eisen Travel Agent
 

Portland hotel an artful haven for harried travelers


At first glance, the tagline "Where Service is Still an
Art" may seem like the type of platitude that could hang over the entrance
of any miscellaneous business. Yet when the phrase is appended to the Heathman
Hotel in Portland, OR, its banality washes away.

The Heathman Hotel's Tea Court

Since 1927, the Heathman Hotel has been a staple of downtown
Portland, a
cultural icon that is as much a form of artistic expression as it is a place of
lodging. It's what gives the hotel's tagline its double meaning. "We are
driven by art," says Stephen Galvan, director of sales and marketing for
the 150-room Heathman Hotel. He may even be understating it. One of the hotel's
rooms is themed after the late avant-garde artist Andy Warhol and, not
surprisingly, is called the Andy Warhol Suite ($289 average daily rate). The
room's design is derived from an original Warhol tree frog lithograph from his
endangered species collection. In total, the hotel owns about $2.5 million
worth of Warhol's work, which is spread throughout the property's 10 stories.

Beyond Warhol, the hotel features an art deco style
throughout its public spaces. Just last year the hotel wrapped up a $2.5
million renovation that updated the guest rooms with art deco accents.
"Since we are very true to the arts, the design is very art
eclectic," Galvan remarks. "The art deco style is a unique part of
the property," added Jeff Jobe, the hotel's general manager at the time of
the renovation.

A Symphony Suite bedroom

In addition to the hotel's outstanding art collection and
attention to architectural details, a selling point is its Art of Sleep bed
menu. Guests may choose the type of mattress they want (Tempur-Pedic, European
Featherbed or European Pillowtop) before booking. Travel agents can then make
note of their client's preference when booking through the GDS.

Of the 150 total rooms, 33 are suites, including the
$1,200-a-night Presidential suite. All rooms are equipped with complimentary
high-speed Internet and each guest has free access to the 400-plus titles in
the hotel's movie library, a nice perk for film buffs.

Yet as much as the hotel excites the visual and tactile
senses, it prides itself on unwavering service that it, as its tagline points
out, considers an art. One of the latest strokes has been the implementation of
the hotel's personal concierge service. Upon arrival, each guest is assigned a
personal concierge to serve as that guest's personal contact for every need,
whether to procure symphony tickets or deliver a bottle of water. Galvan says that
at least five personal concierges are on duty at any given time.

Lobby of the Heathman Hotel

All of these aspects have helped the hotel attain AAA Four
Diamond status, one of only 19 hotels in the U.S. to receive such acclaim for 22
straight years.

But Galvan is quick to pin much of the hotel's success on
travel agents, who he says are the hotel's "bread and butter."
"We look at agents as a group who are going to promote our property, so we
want to make sure that we are as beneficial to them as they are to us. We want
to provide them with the best packages and commission packages possible."

As a rule of thumb, the hotel offers 10 percent commissions,
however, that cut is negotiable based on how much volume is driven to the hotel
or if an agent is booking groups. "We are open to commission
suggestions," Galvan says.

This close relationship with the travel agent community has
rubbed off on Dan Bartels, who oversees the travel department at Columbia
Sportswear, also located in Portland.
The Heathman Hotel is one of three hotels Bartels uses for his travelers and
his reasons for choosing the hotel are simple: "The hotel's service is
excellent and you can't beat the value for the price," he says.
"There is nothing I can't call and ask for."

Sister Property Opens in June

Travel agents will soon be able to book another Heathman
Hotel, in Kirkland, WA. The property is slated to open this June
with 98 guest rooms, a 3,000 square-foot spa and a 98-seat restaurant and bar.
Galvan says the hotel will be fashioned in the same genre as its Portland sister property.
"We are looking to grow the brand and make it a viable factor,"
Galvan says.

FastFacts

The Heathman Hotel
Address:
1001 SW Broadway Portland, OR 97205
Tel: 503-241-4100
Reservations:
800-551-0011

Heathman
Kirkland
, WA


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