McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge. Credit: Kathleen Nyberg
What if Maui were a stop on Interstate 5 between Seattle and Portland?
That dream will be partly realized on April 20, 2018, when the latest of McMenamins' legendary and historic hotels opens up in Kalama, Washington, just a mile off I-5. The town of Kalama is 30 miles north of Portland.
Located on the banks of the Columbia River between Kalama’s landmark 140-foot totem poles and its port marina, the Kalama Harbor Lodge is designed to bring a taste of Maui to Washington state, with private lanais off each room, stunning river views, firepits, bamboo touches and tropical-themed specialties at its restaurant.
“Most of the rooms have a river view of some sort,” said Renee Rank Ignacio, director of marketing for McMenamins. She recently visited the still-under-construction hotel. “I was amazed at how close we are to the water; it almost feels like you’re on a boat.” She notes that families will be able walk to a small beach by the river, where they can relax, play and watch Columbia River cargo ships pass by. Nearby is the Port of Kalama Marine Park, which boasts a play area, expansive lawns, basketball hoops and volleyball. “It’s a great outdoor area for families,” said Rank Ignacio.
The choice of Hawaii as a theme (besides its obvious tropical appeal) pays homage to John Kalama, a Maui-born early employee of Hudson’s Bay Company who was the town’s namesake. The hotel’s architecture and design are inspired by Maui’s famed Pioneer Inn.
As is typical of McMenamins hotels, eating and drinking options abound, making Kalama Harbor Lodge a convenient dinner stop on the way to or from Portland. The main restaurant and lounge will have touches such as wood stoves, a bar made of salvaged radio telegraph poles, a view-rich outdoor patio and four firepits. Also on the premises will be a seven-barrel brewery, a gift shop, and — an elevator ride away — the Rooftop Bar. A short walk away at Ahles Point, grown-ups can enjoy a pint or craft cocktail at a log-cabin-shack-styled bar, which will have a patio outside and fireplace inside.
Kalama Harbor Lodge opens on April 20, but reservations are open now. Guestroom configurations include kings, kings with pull-out couch, double kings and more; each room has a private bathroom and TV; and each is decorated with art that helps tell the story of Kalama and its history.
Not surprisingly, the reservation line has been busy. Rank Ignacio said, “If people are looking for a weekend I recommend making those plans now so they can lock it in.”
Sadly, there will not be a swimming pool on the property (or a hot tub option), but families can find plenty of other McMenamins-style fun at Kalama. For a lovely pool in the greater Seattle area, head to McMenamins' Anderson School in Bothell.
More good news for local families and McMenamins fans: The Oregon-based hotel chain purchased and is currently renovating Tacoma’s historic Elks Lodge, which is slated to open in 2019 as a property with 44 guestrooms, spaces for live music, three restaurants, a brewery and onsite gardens. The Kalama Harbor Lodge and Tacoma Elks join Bothell's Anderson School and the Olympic Club in Centralia, bringing McMenamins' Washington locations to four. McMenamins operates eight lodge properties in Oregon, from the Kennedy School in Portland to the Gearhart Hotel on the Oregon coast.
If you go...
Rates and deal tips: Rates per room per night range from $115–$225, depending on room, season and more. Join McMenamins’ frequent visitor program and you can accrue points for a free stay in a McMenamins hotel.
To book: Reserve online.