City of Roses' Other Flower

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.


The Heathman Hotel
1001 SW Broadway Portland, OR97205
Tel: 503-241-4100


Heathman Kirkland, WA


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