TULALIP — You might call it sort of a shake- down cruise.
Two years under construction, the new roughly $130 million Tulalip Hotel Resort was scheduled to receive its first guests about noon, June 20.
With some areas of the resort still under construction, resort President Ken Kettler still clearly was anxious to throw open the doors for a “soft” opening that was to include about 220 guests who would be staying on floors three through eight of the 12-story building.
“We’re ready for a little action, finally,” Kettler said.
A grand opening for the hotel and convention space is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 15.
Just a few hours prior to the soft opening, Kettler and other hotel administrators led visitors from the Greater Marysville Tulalip Chamber of Commerce on tours of the lobby and adjoining areas of the hotel.
Most dramatically, the lobby area features three indoor totem and story poles, with what appears to be the largest rising some 26 feet. Adjacent to the lobby is a rounded, glass-covered domed area Kettler and others said was designed to host weddings or similar events.
The dome features an indoor waterfall and pool that still were under construction last week. A large, winding staircase is meant to allow a dramatic entrance into the area, which can seat between 250 and 300 people.
Also adjacent to the lobby is the new Cedar Restaurant, which also opened June 20. Another area on the hotel’s first floor includes a large gallery featuring Native American artwork.
Tulalip officials long have said the hotel would emphasize Native artwork throughout, a theme that is apparent in the lobby, but that officials have said carries into each of the hotel’s 363 rooms.
Not incidentally, those 363 rooms include numerous specialty suites, some of which have a definite theme. For example, Kettler talked about a player’s suite featuring a pool table and a video golf game.
In the past, as executive vice-president of hotel operations, Brett Magnan has supplied various glimpses and facts about the new hotel. Magnan has talked about the resort including up to 23 specialty suites. Just as Kettler talked about the player’s suite, Magnan mentioned a high-tech room containing, among other amenities, a 70-inch TV and LCD screens that rotate famous artworks.
Magnan has said the average cost of a room at the hotel should be in the range of $150 to $190. He added the average cost of a room in Seattle is about $220. Magnan said Tulalip visitors will pay less sales tax than those renting a room in Seattle, 10.5 percent as opposed to 16.9 percent.
Overall, Magnan said the new building is aimed squarely at attracting meeting and convention business. With that in mind, the new building includes a 15,000-square-foot ballroom and the same amount of new meeting and reception space. The hotel already has booked its first big convention.
While he didn’t mention any visitor figures, Magnan described the coming Skate America event as a precursor to the winter Olympic games. The Skate America competition itself is slated for Everett. Overall, the Tribes have advertised the hotel as containing some 30,000-square-feet of meeting and convention space.
In terms of adding to the local economy, Kettler said the facility has or will create some 450 new jobs, about 300 of which were filled prior to the soft opening.
Last week, Kettler seemed especially happy with the facility’s main ballroom, which recently helped host a celebration for some 1,200 tribal members.
“We survived,” he said proudly.
All in all, the new building encompasses roughly 114,000- square-feet. Original plans also called for adding to the gaming areas in the adjacent Tulalip Casino, including a roughly 2,000-square-foot high-stakes area.