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Staff readies new Tulalip Resort for grand opening

Working in front of the new Tulalip Resort, a worker puts some extra shine on a waterfall display dominated by an over-sized canoe. A hotel official said the display has been reworked three times to make it into a “Kodak moment.” - Tom Corrigan
Working in front of the new Tulalip Resort, a worker puts some extra shine on a waterfall display dominated by an over-sized canoe. A hotel official said the display has been reworked three times to make it into a “Kodak moment.”
— image credit: Tom Corrigan

TULALIP As of Aug. 3, 45 days after their "soft" opening, Brett Magnan, vice-president of hotel operations, said the new Tulalip Resort already had hosted some 8,500 guests.

Magnan said that translates to an 80 percent occupancy rate, a rate he described as "very, very good."

Two years under construction, the new $130 million, 12-story hotel will hold an invitation-only grand opening party Aug. 15.

As Magnan spoke on Aug. 3, signs of the freshness, the newness, of the enterprise were easy to see. Outside Magnan's office sat boxes upon boxes of office supplies and other materials waiting to be set up or delivered to their ultimate destination.

Perhaps more importantly, workers still were putting in last minute touches in several areas, including an indoor waterfall and pool, as well the hotel's spa.

With its glass-domed roof and dramatic, circular stairway entrance, the pool area was designed to be a worthy spot for weddings and other events. Magnan vowed the waterfall will be ready for the opening and added there are three weddings already booked for two weekends this month.

As for the spa, Magnan admitted that area is proving to be a challenge in terms of construction.

"The spa is the last thing coming on line, there's just a lot of details," he said.

But Magnan added the spa will be up and running the day after the hotel formally throws open its doors. Magnan described the spa as a key feature of the resort, complete with native influences in the treatments available.

Even more than a week before the official opening, on the first floor, guests and visitors already can be seen milling around the hotel's lobby. Most dramatically, that lobby features three indoor totem and story poles, with what appears to be the largest rising some 26 feet.

All in all, the resort contains 363 rooms which Magnan described as some of the best in the state of Washington.

"I'm a little biased," he added with a smile.

As planners did not want bathrooms to be the first things guests noticed when entering their rooms, all rooms have their restroom areas off to the side behind decorative sliding doors. In order not to litter hallways with hanging door signs, each room has electronic "do not disturb signs," as well as a button to indicate the room needs cleaning.

The hotel also features several specialty suites, ranging from a Native-themed room to two Asian rooms. A player's suite features video games and a foosball table.

Even with the spa, the pool and the opening of two new restaurants (one is open, the other is almost ready), Magnan said the only major snag in readying the hotel for guests has proved to be late delivery of mini-refrigerators. For now, staffers have set up beverage displays in each room. If a guest really wants to keep his drinks cold, Magnan added the hotel has a few small refrigerators on hand.

In total, the resort and casino will have about 2,200 employees. Magnan said about 500 new staffers already have been hired and he had about 90 more spots open.

With the opening a short time away, many staffers are talking about reaching the finishing line, Magnan said. He instead likes to think of the hotel as just about to reach the starting line.

"Our real business is serving people, is exceeding their expectations," Magnan added.

While Magnan didn't discount the impact of new hotel jobs on the local economy, he believes convention business will be the resort's real financial contribution to the area. The new building includes a 15,000 square foot ballroom and the same amount of new meeting and reception space.

Working with the Snohomish County Tourism Bureau, the hotel already landed its first big group of visitors. Some 340 rooms have been blocked out for participants in the Skate America event in October, a sort of precursor to the winter Olympics. The actual competition will take place in Everett.

Magnan said his sales people have met a little resistance in that Tulalip seems an out-of-the-way spot to some convention planners.

"It's a little difficult to designate what is we're doing here," Magnan said. But he also added that visitors have been pleased when they actually see the resort.

"It's sort of a discovery moment," Magnan said.

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