Channel Lodge offers rooms with views


February 2, 2022

DID YOU ATTEND? - The Channel Lodge was the place to be to celebrate La Conner’s expanding tourist trade on June 18, 1991. It is still the place to be, almost 31 years later – Image courtesy of Rick Thompson

Following last week’s story on the building of the Country Inn

Repeated studies have shown that success breeds success.

It’s an equation that added up quite nicely for Rick Thompson and his Country Inn partners.

After some changes within the original partnership, bringing aboard Jim MacLean and Tom Whyte, the inn group repeated its successful formula by unveiling plans to build a second hotel on the North First Street waterfront.

“There were two failed proposals before us,” said Thompson. “But we realized that a hotel was probably going to be built there sometime.”

Prospects improved considerably in 1989 when Dunlap Towing was added as a partner; it contributed the shoreline property that became the site of the Channel Lodge. The location would be ideal for guests seeking a retreat from the hubbub of urban life, its defining Northwest exterior styling the creation of Liddell-Pederson Architects, also of La Conner. The interiors were developed by Marcia Johnson & Associates of Seattle, with Heidi Epstein in the lead design role, Thompson said.

But it also posed some hurdles during the permitting process.

“A hotel is not considered a water-dependent use,” Thompson noted. “So, as such, it did not meet shoreline management requirements. However, by adding a pier and dock and committing to providing moorage for boats and sightseeing vessels, we overcame that obstacle.”

Thompson said there is hardly a better venue for overnight lodging, nestled as La Conner is on a saltwater channel with sweeping views of snow-capped peaks, evergreen forests and pastoral farmland.

“We’ve been blessed with a wonderful assortment of guests who appreciated our properties and our efforts to make their stay enjoyable,” he said. “I believe this is true because people who stay with us have come to La Conner specifically to experience the town. You do not ‘just happen to drive through’ La Conner. People who come here made a conscious decision to do so. They have a positive image of the town to begin with.”

And despite the COVID-19 pandemic and more predictable ups-and-downs of the business cycle, Thompson said La Conner’s lodging industry has been able to weather the storms sent its way.

“In the financial sense,” he said, “there have been challenges. But, overall, La Conner has proven to be recession-proof. Even in bad financial times, people still want to get away. So, a little gem like La Conner just an hour from Seattle can really fill the bill.

“The year 2021 is a case in point,” Thompson insisted. “La Conner’s merchant community – including the hotels – has had one of the best years in history. The Town’s sales tax revenues are proof of that. People chose to escape COVID-19 in La Conner.”

The fact they have had the opportunity to do so is truly one of the more Inn-credible chapters in La Conner lore.

One more part to come.


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