Courtyard By Marriott recently cut the ribbon on the chain’s 1000th property in the eastern Washington town of Walla Walla, in one of the Pacific Northwest’s booming wine-making regions. The Walla Walla area has more than 145 wineries, and this new Courtyard property, which had its soft opening in January and officially launched at the end of March, is aiming to attract both business travelers and wine tourists with its updated boutique style. Here’s the scoop:
Guest Rooms and Amenities
The 120 guest rooms at the Walla Walla Courtyard feel much more like a boutique lodging than those in a typical chain property.
Rooms are decorated with stylish wall graphics, grey upholstery, and medium brown wood furnishings, including a trapezoidal dresser and a distinctive asymmetrical cabinet holding a microwave and fridge. The desk and desk chair are both on wheels, so you can move them to wherever is most comfortable.
Other amenities include Keurig coffeemakers and flat-screen TVs; Wi-Fi is complimentary and works well throughout the property. Extremely useful are the ample electrical outlets and USB charging ports around the rooms, including above the desk and along both sides of the bed, so there’s no need to crawl around on the floor looking for places to plug in your electronics.
Standard room configurations have either one king bed or two queens. A fun feature of the king rooms are the comfy “lounge around” couches, curved love seats that are perfect for reading or for putting your feet up while perching your laptop on the handy little work table.
The hotel also has eight one-bedroom suites, with separate sleeping and sitting areas.
At the launch of the Walla Walla property, Courtyard by Marriott executives said that the brand is working to appeal to younger travelers with a “relax first, work second” approach, and the hotel’s bistro and bar emphasize that fun-first feel. There’s a comfortable seating area in front of the fireplace, and a series of “media pods” — tables in curved nooks with their own flat-screen TVs — where you can settle in to work or to watch your favorite show.
The Bistro also has a large communal table, with plenty of electrical outlets, so you can plug in your laptop or have a business meeting, just as you might in your local coffee shop.
There are more places to sit outside in the courtyard (which has a fireplace and heat lamps) or in the lobby, which also has a printer station for guests’ use.
Hotel rates, which start at $149-169/night for a double room, don’t include meals, but you can purchase full breakfasts, coffee and tea, or grab-and-go pastries, yogurt, or granola in the mornings, as well as sandwiches, light meals, and drinks in the evening. The bar serves both Marriott-standard wines, as well as selections from local wineries.
Adjacent to the Bistro is a spacious, contemporary exhibition kitchen, where hotel staff are planning to host dinners, cooking classes, or other special events in conjunction with area wineries; stay tuned for details.
Recreation and Activities
The Walla Walla Courtyard has a small indoor pool, more for soaking than swimming, with a hot tub outside on the adjacent patio.
The fitness room, which overlooks the courtyard and garden, has two treadmills, two elliptical trainers, an exercise bike, yoga mats, and free weights.
Convenient for long-term travelers is the guest laundry, with two washers, two dryers, and complimentary detergent.
The hotel shuttle will pick up and drop off guests at the Walla Walla airport, which is less than 15 minutes, from the hotel. During the day, the shuttle can also give you a ride to other destinations within five miles of the property. Downtown Walla Walla, where a number of wineries have tasting rooms and where you’ll also find several restaurants and cafes, is just a few blocks’ walk.
Walla Walla, which has a population of about 35,000, is a scenic four-hour drive from either Seattle or Portland. You can fly from Seattle in about 45 minutes.
Book online through Marriott International or try Hotels.com.
TIP: If you fly in or out of Walla Walla, Alaska Airlines allows each ticketed passenger to check one case of wine — for free!
Paris? Rome? Walla Walla?
Walla Walla may not yet be on every travelers’ radar, but it’s definitely worth considering if you love good wine. The area’s wineries make particularly excellent reds, including Cabernet and Syrah, and you can easily fill a long weekend with wine tasting and touring.
Besides, as the banner atop the new Courtyard By Marriott declared on its opening day, in Walla Walla the fun has just begun.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the books, Moon Handbooks: Ontario and Living Abroad in Canada. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. The Courtyard By Marriott Walla Walla hosted my stay for review purposes.