Oregon’s Willamette Valley, a lush 150-mile-long swath of land, 45 minutes south of Portland is home to some of the best pinot noir wines in the world. This special slice of Oregon is also home to the award-winning Allison Inn and Spa, a jewel of a resort set on a gentle hillside amidst 35 acres of colourful gardens, manicured lawns and winding paths through surrounding vineyards.
Opened in 2009, and independently owned by the Austin family, the Inn was the dream of local philanthropist, the late Joan Austin. Initially she saw a need to provide accommodation for family members who came to visit their loved ones at a local substance-abuse centre and again, when wine-related tourism brought hoards of of visitors to the region. Austin, whose motto, “go find what you love and give it all you’ve got,” was the driving force behind the project. Her dream of warm hospitality, relaxed home comforts and a true sense of place is at the core of every aspect of the inn.
The building – both timeless and contemporary in design – melds effortlessly into its location at the end of a vineyard-lined driveway. Steel, with accents of copper and expansive glass, add the contemporary imprint to the traditional country lodge natural stone and wood.
The beautifully appointed decor comes courtesy of more polished woods and copper accents, artwork from local artists, and fabrics in ocher, pumpkin, eggplant, and leaf green – all mirroring their natural surroundings.
A striking, glass-enclosed circular stairway in the lobby that connects all floors.
The Living Room with its comfy seating and massive stone fireplace leads to a bar/lounge and Jory restaurant. In every area, you experience a lovely, inescapable sense of place.
Off the living room the outdoor terrace provides a sweeping view of the stunning gardens and photogenic countryside.
Jory, named for the pinot-loving soil of the region, showcases Oregon wine-country cuisine including an 800-bottle wine list.
We dined on cedar planked Oregon Chinook salmon accompanied with green-garlic gratin and pearl onions and Douglas fir verjus blanc sorbet with candied fir tips and pine nuts.
Executive chef Sunny Jin landed at Jory after stints at stellar restaurants in Napa, Europe and Australia. His passion for the valley’s luscious flavours is evident in his farm-to-table offerings – many coming directly from his own 1.5 acre garden.
A four-level wing comprises the 85 guest rooms, including eight suites. Each one is decorated in subtle earth tones, and classic furnishings, handcrafted from local wood. Ours has a gas fireplace, original artwork from local artisans, a soaking tub and a view of the valley and vineyards from our own balcony. Among the thoughtful, built-in touches, is an overhead cabinet that conceals a flat-screen TV and a pull out table next to the cushioned window seat – the perfect place to enjoy a glass the inn’s own pinot noir while simply enjoying the view.
A massive copper-coil curtain marks the entrance to the 15,000-square-foot spa that offers a full service menu for men and women including 12 treatment rooms, a hair and nail salon, saunas, steam baths and a retail boutique, a state-of-the-art fitness room and an indoor swimming pool. In fine weather, floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to the outside.
Not surprisingly, the spa picks up on the wine country theme. Their signature ‘Pinotherapy’ incorporates wine and grape seed extracts. My Grape Seed Cure began with a crushed grape seed scrub and an organic honey and wine wrap to purify and exfoliate the skin, followed up by a shea butter hydration body massage.
LEED Gold Certification
Proof that luxury can also be green, the inn is a LEED (it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified property, a level of distinction achieved by only a smattering of hotels around the world. Solar panels generate seven percent of the building’s electricity needs. There’s an eco-friendly roof planted in sedum. Recycled water irrigates the grounds and everything that can be recycled is. Plastic water bottles, replaced by repurposed wine bottles, have been eliminated from the property in the owners’ on-going commitment to sustainability.