The Lodge at Suncadia in Cle Elum, Washington, just off I-90 east of Snoqualmie Pass, is a lovely destination. Part of the larger Suncadia Resort nestled in the pines, this AAA four-diamond property has lots to recommend it, as well as some drawbacks potential visitors should know about.
Approaching the building, it
has a distinct lodge feel. After checking in at the front desk, guests walk
through a Great Room with extraordinary views of the surrounding Cascade
Mountains. The ambiance is very pleasant with a large fireplace and comfortable
Guest rooms at this hotel
range from deluxe guest rooms to a penthouse one bedroom. They come with many
of the amenities we expect today, including kitchen facilities. Many units have
gas fireplaces, which are a very nice touch any time of year and are especially
cozy during the winter. Some units even include a washer and dryer, which are
particularly useful for those planning a more extended stay.
Most of the guest rooms at the
Lodge at Suncadia are privately owned, meaning there is some variation in
décor. However, hotel personnel told me
owners have a choice of only two design schemes, so the variation doesn’t cover
a broad range like the rooms at the Inn at Spanish Head in Lincoln City,
Oregon, where I recommend guests look at the actual room they’re being offered
before accepting it to ensure it meets with their approval.
There are three restaurants
at the Lodge itself: a restaurant called Portals, a lounge called Fifty 6°, and
a combination coffee shop/gift shop. Other nearby restaurants on the resort
include the Canary Grill at the nearby Inn at Suncadia, and the Hoist House
Restaurant at the on-property winery, Swiftwater Cellars.
One of the bartenders at
Fifty 6° told me the kitchens at the Lodge and the winery are careful to
coordinate menus, so that each will be offering dishes unique to their
There are numerous
recreational activities, many of which vary by the season. Horseback riding was
offered nearby when I visited in June. Golf, skiing, snowmobiling, and others
offerings vary by the season. The spa is open year-round.
Due to its remote location,
many of the staff members are from the surrounding small towns, including many
young people who work at the resort during their summer breaks from college.
Most of the staff members I encountered were polite and friendly, but have not
yet developed the polish one would expect at a four-diamond property in a larger
city. For example, they tend to say “no problem” instead of “my pleasure,” and
address businessmen as “guys” instead of “gentlemen.”
In addition to staff polish,
guest rooms are another area where Suncadia needs to pay closer attention to
When I arrived, there were
no glasses in the bathroom. The workstation, while nicely equipped with a very
fast, wired Internet connection and a variety of AV inputs to the flat-screen
TV, lacked a proper task chair, and the casual chair provided did not allow me to
work comfortably. I’m tempted to say
something flippant, like “maybe that’s the point,” but the resort does
actively seek convention and meeting business, so many guests expect to work
while at the Lodge.
In-room light fixtures use
old-school fluorescent bulbs that are not “instant-on”; they take quite some
time to warm up to full power and even then, look like bad office lighting. It
makes sense to be energy-efficient, but there are better products that will
yield the same energy savings.
Maintenance is another area
the property needs to improve. For example, the screen door on my room’s
balcony was off its track and propped against the fixed portion of the sliding
glass door. It should have been put back on before the room was offered
to a guest. Finally, the air
conditioning only went down to 68, while most go to 65 or lower. For those of
us who like it cool when we sleep, that could be an issue.
The restaurant, Portals,
needs to step up its game. After ordering a simple breakfast of scrambled eggs,
Canadian bacon, and toast, I waited 15 minutes in a fairly empty dining room
for my meal to arrive. When it finally did, the eggs were cold and the Canadian
Several of my fellow
conference-goers commented on the resort’s poor cell phone coverage. That could
be presented as a plus, but again, the hotel does actively court business
meetings and other gatherings where people expect to be able to use their
Standard checkout time is 11
a.m., earlier than most upscale facilities, which offer a noon checkout. Late
checkouts are available up to 2 p.m., but the Lodge at Suncadia charges ½ the
regular room rate for that additional three hours.
My breakfast, ordered
à la carte because their signature offerings don’t include basic bacon and
eggs, was $14 including coffee. A bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells
Chardonnay, which my dinner companions and I had shared the night before, was
$49. As I write this, the same wine is available at my neighborhood grocery for $14.99;
average restaurant mark-up of 100% would have brought the price at the Lodge
closer to $29. A bottle of house white, which sells for $9 a glass at the
restaurant and bar, was $38 a bottle in the gift shop. Based on the per-glass price, it should have been closer to $18 at retail.
With that in mind, if a
luxurious lodge in a rustic mountain setting sounds like your idea of an ideal
location and if you’re willing to overlook some shortcomings, then the Lodge at
Suncadia could fill the bill.
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Photos by Carl Dombek
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