Home-Based Travel Agent sat down with Scott Steinloski, director of tourism, Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau; Robin Jacobsen, public relations manager, San Juan Islands; and Sheila Cloney, tourism representative for the city of Kirkland to develop an elongated Cascade Loop self-drive itinerary. A number of distinctive hotel resources emerged. If your clients fly into SeaTac International, traffic on I-5 heading north can be a bear, but clients who opt for the ferry (the last Argosy leaves at 3:30) can spend a little time in Seattle, then pick up a rental car in Kirkland (Enterprise and Hertz have offices there). The Gray Line shuttle ($10.25 one way) provides a stress-free option north from SeaTac.
Kirkland: The luxury Woodmark hotel, a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts, provides city comfort in a lakeside setting. Rates start at $125, which in Seattle is the rate for "a mediocre room," says Cloney, adding that the hotel's Aveda spa has become a girlfriends' getaway hotspot. A "Spa Retreat" package includes a $125 spa credit and late-night snacks ("Raid the Pantry" service is a Woodmark trademark) for $350 per night double.
Yakima Valley: Cherry Wood Bed & Breakfast in Zillah takes guests on a horseback tour of three wineries and puts them up in tepees outfitted in Ralph Lauren. More traditional accommodations include the Victorian or Western rooms, as well as two authentic Air Stream trailers. Rates range from $90 to $145 per night. Andy, the working farm's chef, cooks by Dutch oven over an open flame, sings cowboy songs and tells stories by the campfire. Breakfast is included.
Walla Walla: Upscale stays in Walla Walla start and end with the Marcus Whitman, says Cloney. Named after a pioneer doctor and missionary, the property sells wine-related packages. A monthly winemakers dinner series features local talent and room rates include dinner for $599 per couple for deluxe and $799 for luxury rooms. The "Touch of the Grape" package includes a night's stay, bottle of Marcus Whitman Red and $60 dinner voucher starting at $189 per night double. Resources
Spokane: The Davenport Hotel was once the largest private telephone branch exchange in the Pacific Northwest. Reopened in 2002 with 283 rooms after being shuttered for 17 years, it is the only four-diamond hotel here—it took $6.8 million to restore it to glory. Rates start at $175 per night double for a standard king.
Mount Vernon: Clients who want a change from large hotels will find several B&B options. Two that stand out here are White Swan Guesthouse —known for its vegetarian breakfast and garden cottage with private bath and kitchen—and Whispering Firs B&B, which has a private lake stocked with rainbow trout. Rates start below $100 at both.