The steak house dinner was not going to cut it this year and “Herself” was tired of the Portland, Oregon airport after limping home from yet another press trip. I had to find a special place take my wife for our 20th anniversary that was not too far away. Triumphantly, I announced to her that we were going to wine country in the Willamette Valley.
Debuting in 2009 and situated on 35 acres, this gold certified LEED complex is ultra-special in every respect. The owners, seventh generation Oregonians took great care to situate the building into the environment. Building green and utilising local contractors, craftspeople and artisans, the Austin family created their own mini- economy in the area when times were tough. The hotel continues to generate jobs and support local workers. The Inn’s immense appeal according to Managing Director Pierre Zreik is not only to the independent traveller, ” We do a large part of our business as corporate incentive travel, corporate retreats and meetings. Intel and Nike love to come. Another facet is the wine groups. Since 1994 the number of wineries has increased from 75 to over 200 in the valley. The Oregon traveller makes up 48% of our business followed by California and Washington. ” All an easy flight or a drivable distance.
Our mid-day drive was easy; in just over an hour we arrived at the Allison Inn’s wood- beamed porte cochere. “Her Majesty” was happy with my choice because she smiled at the valet as he opened her door. She smiled again when she saw the house-made chocolate truffles Mr. Zreik had left in our room.
The Allison embodies “Northwest Elegance” with massive circular stairway, lustrous woods, natural vistas and expanses of stone and glass used throughout the private and pubic spaces. Simple materials and skillful design invoke a sense of well-being and communion with nature. Relevant artwork in multiple mediums reflect the areas wineries, farms and natural world. Take your own tour. In- room you can grab a self-guide book “The Art of The Allison Collection” describing the art and artist’s inspiration.
A tub for two was a most inspiring element in our “standard” room. I’d suggest that the room is a mini-suite, offering a small dining table for a romantic repast, a lounging area and a comfy bedroom with lanai. Owner Mrs. Joan Austin insisted on thoughtful built -in touches like the pull out table adjacent to the window seat so you can sit with your wine and enjoy the view to the vines growing on the hill.
The Allison, dedicated to well-being has saunas, steam baths, indoor pool, and a state-of-the art fitness room. Design in the Spa embraces the element of water in twelve treatment rooms and the private lounge areas. Here you don’t only drink your Pinot. “The Princess” was thrilled to learn that “Pinot Therapy” is available via the Divine Wine Facial or grape seed scrubs. For couples, duo massages or a “Candlelight and Roses” bath are offered.
After my steam, I looked forward to our dinner at Jory the Allison’s signature restaurant headed up by stellar Executive Chef Sunny Jin. At 6000 square feet, the restaurant seats 100 and has a chef’s table. The focus is fresh from their garden and local farms enjoined with wine creating a most casually elegant experience.
“Mon Marie, ” fully relaxed from her afternoon at the Spa looked radiant as she floated on my arm to a comfortable booth. Restaurant manager Tom Bean introduced himself and offered us a glass of 2008 Dick Shea Estate Pinot Noir from the Ribbon Ridge area of Dundee, here in the Willamette Valley. As we sipped this very complex wine and perused the wine list I told Tom that I thought he’d carry mainly Oregon wines. He answered, ” Jory has over 800 labels of wine to offer from around the world. This is the local winemakers’ living room. They want to sample wines from other countries, after all, they’re always trying each others wines like Pinots, Syrahs etc from Oregon and Washington state”.
I opted for the house made charcuterie to open. I realised too late that it was enough for two, but I had no problem enjoying most of it. “She” ordered Fresh Manila Clams with Andouille and a Chardonnay-Meyer Lemon Cream Crostini and proclaimed it ” tart, buttery and very fresh” between bites. I was busy trying to eat the gargantuan plate of pork rillettes, salumi, and pickled vegetables but fresh Alaskan Halibut waits for waits for no man, so I surrendered to my fish. savouring her Browned Gnocchi, with Lobster and Fresh Spring Peas “mia moglie” told me she appreciated the light hand in the kitchen that allowed the food itself to shine.”
For dessert we sampled a local small production Privé Pinot Noir Port made by Tina and Mark Hammond right up the hill from the Allison. Rich ruby-red and silky smooth, it is one of Tom’s favourites and a perfect match for the rich dark chocolate torte we shared. After the fist bite of chocolate my wife gave me another smile and this time, a kiss!
Kurt Winner is a Lifestyle Journalist and Photographer and a member of the IFWTWA. He writes from the Mt. Hood area near Portland, Oregon.
Michelle Winner is a regular contributor to City Room, and writes for Luxury, Spa, Culinary and corporate incentive travel markets . She writes as the “Culinary traveller” and is Vice President of the IFWTWA.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.