Salish Lodge & Spa is one of those places that the travel gods sometimes reward you with when you least expect it. Booked at the tail end of a driving tour of the Northwest (I had chosen it because of its 30-minute drive away from the Seattle airport to connect with an early morning flight), I wasn’t expecting much. Boy, was I surprised!
Built initially as an 8-room inn in 1916, it served as a rest stop for travelers journeying over the mountain pass. They came for the famous country breakfasts and stayed to marvel at the Snoqualmie Falls and River, formed by ice and glacier debris flow some 10,000 years ago. Upon approach, they were greeted by the roar of whitewater over granite cliffs—the staggering power of water plunging 268 feet down into a 65-foot-deep pool.
Completely remodeled and reopened in 1988, Salish Lodge & Spa is perched above this unchanged wonder of nature—a short walk, yet miles away, in terms of milieu from this major Washington State tourist attraction. More than 1.5 million people come each year to view the falls, the hydroelectric power plants and the lovely, 2-acre park, with free viewing and parking from dawn until dusk If it all looks familiar, you may recognize it for its appearance in the cult TV series, Twin Peaks.
A soothing aroma of cedar and a sense of tranquility greet you as you enter the Lodge and Spa. Each of the charming 84 guest rooms has a wood-burning fireplace and two-person Jacuzzi soaking tub. The rooms ooze Pacific Northwest charm and make it very easy to simply stay inside, particularly during the November through March rainy season. I actually loved walking through the park at dusk on a cloudy, misty evening and would not have been the least shocked to encounter Heathcliff deep in melancholy along the windswept moors. It has that Wuthering Heights aura.
Too many awards to list have been bestowed on Salish Lodge, including ones that recognize its romantic atmosphere. Conde Nast listed the Lodge as No. 49 in its Readers Choice Top 100 Hotels; and for 21 consecutive years, it has received Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence. In addition, the property has been recognized as Most Romantic, Best Place to Kiss, Best Place to Propose, Best Place to Spend Your Wedding Night…you get the picture.
The Dining Room, with its stunning views of the falls and river, features farm-fresh seasonal ingredients and epicurean dining. World-famous Country Breakfasts include Salish Honey from Heaven poured from on high over buttery homemade biscuits—which brings me to the bees on property: What began as a four-hive apiary with 120,000 honey bees has now tripled to produce some 2,400 pounds of organic honey a year. The hillside apiary has grown to include an organic vegetable garden, herb garden and fields of wildflowers. In addition to the kitchen, the Spa also utilizes this ambrosia, choosing herbs such as rosemary, lavender, basil and mint to blend with the honey, creating a custom scrub.
Yes, there’s life and activity outside this idyllic getaway: the only TPC Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in the Pacific Northwest, as well as fishing, hiking, horseback-riding, biking, skiing and rafting from leisurely floats to thrilling rapids. Nearby is Snoqualmie, home of the Northwest Railway Museum and a veritable graveyard of once-grand railroad cars. The Woodman Lodge, a holdover from a bygone era and restored as a tribute to hard-working pioneers who harvested timber, mined coal and built a railroad, is a great place for grilled steaks and slow-roasted prime rib. A five-minute drive into this sleepy little town was delightful….but I couldn’t wait to get back to Salish Lodge, with its cascading waterfall, cozy rooms, inviting library, tempting gift shop, therapeutic spa and honeybees.
I never did figure out if bees actually have knees—or where exactly that marvelous 1920s phrase came from—but I can tell you without equivocation that Salish Lodge & Spa is indeed the bee’s knees.