Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A delightful stay at Hotel Bellwether, Bellingham

I am a sucker for silent auctions.

Over the years, I have made many purchases, often the items that others were not bidding on. As a result, I have enjoyed some unique experiences.

One of the best buys was a week's timeshare stay anywhere in the world. (We ended up at a resort in Queretaro Mexico). Closer to home we have enjoyed a family helicopter outing and hotel stay in Victoria, and a float plane/ferry/limousine/ package to Doc Martin's restaurant on Bowen Island.

I have bought many hotel and golf packages at places we would not normally frequent. (A visit to Petty Estate- Rowena's/Sandpiper golf course in Harrison Mills was a most pleasant surprise.)

Some of the worst buys have included coupons for physical fitness assessments and training that are sitting in a drawer, having long ago expired!
One of our most recent buys was a package donated to the Vancouver Symphony by the Hotel Bellwether in Bellingham, Washington. It included a stay in their Lighthouse Suite, a three hour cruise around the area, and dinner with wine in their restaurant.

I was curious why a hotel in Bellingham was making such a generous donation to the Symphony until I learned that it is owned by Andre and Julie Molnar. Yes, that Andre Molnar! The property is part of the Preferred Hotels and Resorts network and is located within the Bellingham Port redevelopment area.
In front of the hotel are new office and retail developments exuding a very attractive industrial waterfront aesthetic.
We had such a good experience I had to write about it, especially since I suspect many of you, like me, were not aware the Bellingham port has undergone a substantial redevelopment that includes this upscale resort hotel, numerous good restaurants and boating facilities.

Surprisingly, it took less than an hour from our Southlands home to the hotel, including going through the Nexus border crossing.

The waterfront hotel www.hotelbellwether.com was developed by an Arizona developer and Andre bought it around seven years ago. He was familiar with the property since departing the Vancouver condo scene (he was the city's Condo King when I first arrived in Vancouver in the 70's) he has been active in the Bellingham market.

The hotel has a variety of rooms and suites and is surprisingly upmarket. But then, Bellingham is becoming a very attractive tourist destination, especially for people from Seattle and boaters.

(When we decided to have a last-minute golfing holiday in the area six weeks ago, this hotel, and most nearby properties, including the Chrysalis Inn and Semiahmoo were full.)
This part of Washington State is a most attractive area to cruise on the hotel's boat.
We didn't go hungry, or thirsty!
Part of the appeal of the area is the good boating, beautiful scenery and a lot of good restaurants and interesting (and reasonably priced) golf courses.
There are a lot of very high end properties along the Bellingham waterfront. Fortunately our captain was also in the real estate business and knew the owners and stories related to many of these properties.

Although the weather was not perfect, it didn't really matter....the scenery was quite fascinating, including this inlet full of fossils.
The Lighthouse Suite has its own entrance and parking!
If you go, you don't have to stay in the Lighthouse. But if you do, you'll find a three level suite with a rooftop lookout, a kitchenette, a winding staircase, and reserved parking outside the door. According to the hotel brochure you can also arrange for a private butler, champagne and caviar.

The restaurant was very good. If you have seen the movie The Hundred-foot Journey you will know that the owner of the Michelin star restaurant assessed a chef's capabilities by how well he could make an omelette. I mention this since after a very good dinner that included a seafood risotto and bouillabaisse, Sally and I enjoyed excellent omelettes the following morning.

I can highly recommend a weekend escape to the Hotel Bellwether. Although it is not far away, you feel like you are far away. When you book, arrange for a boat trip around the area. Eat in the hotel restaurant and check out the nearby restaurants in walking distance.

If you know Andre, tell him you are going. But if you don't know Andre, when you arrive ask for Jim Haupt, the General Manager. He took very good care of us, and I suspect he'll take care of you too.
Let me know what you think of the place.


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