In 2020, the tourism and hospitality industry in the Puget Sound area, and all of Washington state, was on life support, according to Brad Jones, executive director at Visit Bellevue.
The stats are sobering. As of autumn, Bellevue hotels were at 28 percent occupancy; at the low point in April, this number dipped below 10 percent, and overall occupancy has been very slow to return. (For comparison, Bellevue typically falls in the 75 percent to 80 percent range.) In November, the number of overnight visitors continued to be down by 150,000-plus visitors per month.
Urban destinations like Bellevue have been hard hit by the recent lack of corporate demand, with the absence of groups, meetings, and conventions. As a result, regional hotels have gotten clever about marketing to the staycation crowd — and especially local business professionals seeking a convenient and comfortable place to stay on top of (remote) work responsibilities.
In the heart of a bustling Eastside, Hyatt Regency Bellevue offers a delightful change of scene. The venue’s 700-plus elevated rooms and suites overlook Lake Washington; in the distance, the Seattle skyline and snowcapped peaks twinkle. When not tied to computer screens, guests can attend to their physical well-being in the spacious on-site fitness center, where timed appointments keep numbers small and safe. Mental health gets attention here, too, thanks to Headspace’s guided meditations, accessed through the World of Hyatt app.
Added bonus: Since this spacious hotel is located inside The Bellevue Collection, which features 200-plus shops, 50 restaurants, and interactive entertainment venues all connected via sky bridges, guests never have to step foot outside if they so choose.
In Woodinville, locals can sink into a luxurious room at Willows Lodge while taking advantage of a package aptly named Work from Willows. Depending on current regulations, the hotel can assist with safely hosting small on-site meetings, too (in rooms that get electrostatically cleaned prior to arrival), with perks like complimentary Wi-Fi, free parking, bottled water, and a relaxing environment featuring abundant natural light and patio spaces. When the to-do list has all been ticked, guests unwind on the property’s lush grounds, while biking along the Burke-Gilman Trail, and by visiting local tasting rooms to support Washington wineries as well as inviting breweries like Metier.
Among the many draws of The Woodmark Hotel & Still Spa in Kirkland, this scenic Lake Washington property has invested in a Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization (NPBI) system to provide safer indoor-air quality (in all its public spaces). This patented technology is said to be the only active purification system approved for commercial aircraft.
While the Woof, Wag & Worry Less package appeals to canine lovers, the complimentary Raid the Pantry program (open nightly from 10 p.m. till 1 a.m.) appeals to night-owl business workers who feel the childlike joy of sneaking into the snack closet for midnight treats. (Think popcorn, granola bars, cookies, and seasonal items created by chef Brian Doherty, too.)
This lakeside venue also offers access to the great outdoors, thanks to year-round kayaking, walking trails that wind along the water and into downtown Kirkland, and the hotel’s new fleet of beach cruiser bicycles. Longer-stay guests should inquire whether their company might already have a corporate rate at The Woodmark.
In Renton, the waterside retreat of Hyatt Regency Lake Washington has adapted with the times by offering packages that spotlight separate workspaces, high-speed Internet, waived pet fees, and discounts on services (like laundry) that make longer stays enticing. Tech-ready amenities — plus laptops and printer rentals — get guests through important deadlines. Lighter workdays are brightened by lengthy lakeside lunches, nature breaks at nearby Gene Coulon Park, or evening bites and drinks enjoyed at the property’s new dockside venue, featuring heated outdoor tables.
Business folks who prefer having a furry friend at their feet for moral support can cozy up at Cedarbrook Lodge, which sits on 18 verdant acres near Seattle Southside gems like Des Moines Beach Park and Saltwater State Park. The Heathman Hotel, a great place from which to explore downtown Kirkland on foot, welcomes canine guests with their own beds and signature dog biscuits made by the culinary team.
Looking to get a bit farther away? Alderbrook Resort, a tranquil Union getaway on the shores of the Hood Canal, offers remote perks like a boardroom that can be booked for private use. Guests simply visit the front desk to reserve up to two complimentary hours. Otherwise, turning a charming guest room or cottage into one’s home-away-from-home office makes even a productive workday feel like a pampered vacation.
Editor’s note: All the venues mentioned in this story have made COVID-related adjustments to keep staff and guests as safe as possible during this time. Due to ever-changing statewide mandates, please check in with each hotel for the most current offerings before booking.)