When the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle opened in November 2008, a global economic meltdown made it tough for anybody-travelers, industry executives, local observers and others-to get too excited about a new luxury property. Nevertheless, the hotel, located across the street from the Seattle Art Museum and less than a block away from Pike Place Market, has not only survived the toughest of economic times, it has also grown into an admired and respected downtown fixture. So we can understand why its management team is so excited about the future as they gear up to celebrate their fifth anniversary.
“This is such a great time for Seattle.” said GM Ilse Harley, when I asked her to describe the significance of the property’s upcoming milestone. She was referring to hot happenings in the neighborhood, which include last year’s the opening of the Seattle Great Wheel and plans to reshape the city’s waterfront. “There is so much happening right now,” she added.
The conversation took place during a May 21 media reception at the hotel’s ART Restaurant & Lounge, where she and her team unveiled plans to begin their 5-year anniversary celebration this summer. Based on what I saw and heard, here are my top-five reasons to visit:
1. Just say fromage: The restaurant’s cheese table (pictured above, available year-round) brings in about a dozen changing selections from boutique producers near and far. During my visit, I sampled everything from Beecher’s Flagship cheddar to a Spanish manchego with black truffle shavings. Unlimited samplings are available nightly, beginning at 4:30 p.m., but I suggest waiting until the nightly cheese happy hour, 9-11 p.m. each night. The price drops from $14 to $7 per person, and the bar offers select wines at happy hour prices.
2. I scream, you scream: The restaurant’s dessert menu includes homemade ice creams crafted by Tara Sedor, the hotel’s pastry chef. The selections include such year-round staples as chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, as well as seasonal surprises, including two of Sedor’s latest concoctions: s’mores and blueberry pancake. The former combines honey-and-cinnamon-flavored cream with homemade marshmallow, while the latter features a to-die-for mix of buttermilk, maple and blueberry.
3. Poolside fun: I’m not normally a spa guy, and I already live in Seattle, but I’d consider a spa package or an overnight stay at the hotel just to access the pool deck. The outdoor infinity pool and hot tub are surrounded by chaise longues and cabanas, and the hotel serves a wide range of foods and beverages The latter include everything from mineral waters and smoothies to cocktails and beers served in ice mugs (literally, beer mugs made from ice), and the space overlooks the waterfront.
4. Seven bites for seven nights: The 7 Days of ART promotion brings a food tasting designed for each day of the week to the restaurant and hotel lobby. On ART Steak House Saturdays, for example, the restaurant offers a beef “tasting menu,” featuring a sampling of cuts from across the country, accompanied by a variety of sauces and rubs, while guests can sample free mini burgers in the lobby (for hotel guests, restaurant patrons, etc). Thursday’s theme is Northwest Best Catch. The restaurant’s seafood special is paired with a seafood-inspired beverage, while salmon canapé samples await in the lobby, along with a mock fish-throwing demonstration featuring a doll resembling a salmon. These demonstrations are designed to prep children staying at the hotel for visits to Pike Place Market, explains Mike Hirschler, the hotel’s human resources director. Hirschler, who doubles as a monger—waders and all—for the hotel’s demonstrations, says he’s willing to help grownups practice catching fish, too. “If you want a fish thrown at you, we will toss the fish to you,” he says, with a smile.
5. Sip local: Jorge Castillo, the restaurant’s general manager, is embracing the craft distillery movement. This spring, he brought 55 regionally produced spirits to the restaurant’s bar. The selections include Seattle-made Glass Vodka; Crater Lake Sweet Ginger Vodka, produced by Oregon’s Bendistillery; and Alaska Distillery’s smoked salmon-infused vodka. The producers describe the latter as, “Specifically crafted to be enjoyed in a Bloody Mary,” and, after tasting it myself, I can truly say that this is something that you have to try at least once. Guest distillers lead tastings and discussions about their respective spirits at the bar on Friday evenings.
Visit the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle website to learn more.Tags: AAA Washington, Four Seasons Seattle, Journey magazine, Pike Place Market, Rob Bhatt, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Great Wheel