Think of the Pacific Northwest and a sprawling lodge facing an expanse of tranquil water, quietly nestled under towering Douglas Fir trees will undoubtedly spring to mind. In reality, there are quite a few lodge-style resorts along the water in Washington (although maybe not as many as you’d think) but none compare to the Alderbrook Resort and Spa. Their secret is in the surprises.
A setting to WOW
The scenic drive from Seattle to Union, Washington (as incredibly beautiful as it was) didn’t prepare me for the fairy tale appearance of the natural wonderland that surrounds Alderbrook. The resort is Grandmother’s house in Little Red Riding Hood or Hansel and Gretel’s home in the woods. Set on impressive acreage on the shore of Hood Canal, it encompasses five miles of hiking (or in my case, wandering) trails and a marina, home of the resort’s own yacht. Views of the Olympic range beyond the water feel as if someone placed a movie backdrop beyond the water as the final touch to perfect your vacation.
Alderbrook consists of a main building surrounding a courtyard next to cottages gathered around a common lawn. My travels aren’t complete without at least one member of my family and this time I had three, including Allie the dog. The dog-friendly rooms are perfectly positioned on ground level with the easiest access I’ve ever experienced for taking a furry family member outside. The courtyard is exquisite with a beautifully maintained lawn, winding sidewalks and a cascading fountain on one side. It opens to the water and marina. In-between, a fire pit and glass-clad indoor salt water swimming pool beg guests to stretch out or splash around.
The cottages’ lawn boasts croquet sets and outdoor grills. I peeked inside one of the free-standing units to see its renovation progress and made a mental note to return and try one out.
An open-arms welcome
Allie recognizes a back door when she sees one and spotted one on the far side of our dog-friendly room seconds after entering. She stood in front of it patiently while we explored the large soaking tub, the books on display, the flat rock left by housekeeping (for rock skipping!) and the comfortable bed complete with a soft blanket draped across it. Every hotel that includes a soft blanket for lounging should receive an extra star, in my opinion. The next half hour Allie explored every shrub, person and other dog she met with gleeful abandon before striding confidently onto the dock over the water. When she had welcomed everyone in her domain, including resident cats Alder and Brook, we set off for the nature trails.
The five nature trails begin across from the resort’s entrance. The shortest is Viewpoint Loop (.5 miles) and the longest and most remote is Dogwood Ridge (2.8–3.3 miles). The paths are visible enough to provide comforting direction and a safe hiking surface, but are designed to not distract from the breathtaking beauty of the prehistoric-looking forest. The resort’s own botanist cares for the plants, the paths and the surprises along the way.
One of the stand-out activities at Alderbrook is geocaching. Maps and supplies are provided at the front desk for enterprising guests of all ages. My favorite surprise on our walk, though, was the event area. Coming across it was like discovering a gnome abode. We were lucky enough to have a guide who explained an entire meal can be cooked, served and consumed in the multi-tiered area on handmade tables amidst fairy lights to lend magic to any event lucky enough to be held here. As of now, the word is not yet fully out on this incredibly unique event space, but it’s not likely to take long before a months-long waiting list is the norm.
The food of Alderbrook
The chefs at the Restaurant at Alderbrook don’t cut corners. Their passionate dedication to the highest quality ingredients is so great, they have their own cheese hut on the grounds where they each make their own flavorful cheese for signature dishes. My medium-rare ribeye steak was one of the best I’ve ever eaten from the cut’s tenderness to the crumbled cheese on the side. The “shore to table” philosophy reaches a whole new level because the oysters and clams served are from the resort’s own beach! As you walk out to the marina, take time to notice the oysters in piles in the water.
Returning from our dinner, one last surprise was waiting for Allie — her own gourmet food-grade meal made just for her by the culinary team and a gift basket. Showing your dog she is a part of the family is so easy at Alderbrook — Mud Bay dog treats and toys are available in the gift shop (turn left at the huge crawl-through fireplace) and chef-created dog meals can be ordered from the restaurant. A pet amenity bucket and dog massages are also available — that’s how welcome your pet is at Alderbrook.
Alderbrook Resort and Spa is exceptional for all the reasons above and more I’m sure to discover next time I visit. It doesn’t seem to matter which season you choose for a getaway either — the fun surprises will be here, waiting to make your day.
A big thank you to Sean Forde for kindly arranging my stay and the exceptional onsite team!