Do not pinch yourself, this is not a mirage, and hopefully you didn’t overdo it with the wine-tastings throughout the Willamette Valley. The strikingly handsome stone and polished wood edifice you come upon on the outskirts of small, humble Newberg, Oregon is in fact very real. The Allison Inn & Spa opened its doors in September of 2009 as the area’s first upscale destination resort. The most remarkable thing about the 85-room and suite hotel may well be that there is nothing else like it in Oregon’s wine country and it instantly filled a niche for visitors who wanted a comfortable, high-end lodging to go with all of the new wineries, tasting rooms and restaurants that have sprung up in this part of the state in recent years.
Perched on a hillside just west of downtown Newberg on Springbrook Road, the Allison first shows itself as a modern, four-story building of cool, polished wood, stone and glass, with copper accents and fine design touches everywhere, right down to the original artwork commissioned from Oregon artists in the public areas and guestrooms. It is the only area lodging to our knowledge where the staff wears chic uniforms in brown and white, and bellmen are at the porte cochere entrance to greet guests and whisk them into a sleek living room that is punctuated by a gray slate hearth and built-in banquettes done in browns, grays and sage green. The décor inside is tasteful and natural, with more smooth stone columns separating polished wood panels and parquet floors.
The living room opens to the adjoining Jory restaurant, which has a long, welcoming bar that offers flights of area wines by the glass and a menu of fresh, regional dishes like Snake River Farms beef carpaccio with sweet pepper salad, stuffed thigh of organic chicken over roasted grapes, Cascade Farms organic steak with black truffle mashed potatoes, or a three-course lunch tasting menu that features imaginative dishes from chef Nathan Lockwood and comes in at a reasonable $23. The kitchen is open and all gleaming stainless steel, and the counter with bar stools surrounding it, within whispering distance of chefs in white coats and toques, may well become in many ways the hottest place to dine in the valley.
Owned and developed by Newberg locals Joan and Ken Austin, pains were taken to make the Allison as green as modernly possible, right down to the preferred parking spaces for hybrid and electric vehicles. A bellman named Ryan who offered a room tour pointed out the wetbar with filtered water, recycled glass water bottles in the mini-bar (which are sanitized and re-sealed for every new guest and replace the ubiquitous plastic water bottles of most hotels), refillable bath and shower amenities, and a gas fireplace with a timer. Balconies have polished wood floors, and bathrooms have double sinks and a long, soaking tub with a screen that can be opened to take in the sweeping views of the Inn’s own vineyards, recently planted, and the valley.
The Allison’s spa is a full-service facility – another first for the area – for everything from massages to facials and pedicures, and an indoor swimming pool has a vanishing edge perimeter and utterly comfortable lounge furniture done in bare wood and thick cushions, with stone columns and a photovoltaic panel on the roof to provide green energy. It’s all part of a commitment on the part of the hotel and its owners to seek LEED certification as a green building and business.
Room rates are not inexpensive, but comparable to similar properties in resort areas like California’s Napa or Washington’s Woodinville wine country: Deluxe guestrooms start at $295, junior suites at $325 and one-bedroom suites at $450. For information and reservations, call 503.554.2525.
By Jim Gullo