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Coastal Hotel Group Intends to Bid on the Salish Lodge & Spa;
Has Managed the One of a Kind Resort for Seven Years

By Nancy Kelsey, Seattle TimesMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

July 28, 2007 The Seattle-based Coastal Hotel Group said it intends to bid on the Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie sometime next week.

The historic lodge, which sits just before the drop of the Snoqualmie Falls, went on the market in June and the owners are soliciting bids.

Coastal President Yogi Hutsen said the group would make a bid and it was still planning to pursue construction of a separate conference hotel that would have up to 250 rooms on 25,000 square feet of land. The new facility would generate 400 jobs.

Salish Lodge General Manager Sam Johnson said the property has generated "a high degree of interest."

Johnson is responsible for showing the property to potential buyers. The level of interest does not surprise him, he said.

"Salish Lodge & Spa is a one-of-a-kind destination perched on the crest of a waterfall," Johnson said. "It cannot be replicated or duplicated."

The Salish was recently ranked No. 31 among U.S. and Canadian hotels by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Kristina Paider of Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels, which is handling the sale, would not say when the bidding process would end or when a decision is expected to be made.

Coastal has managed Salish for seven years, Johnson said. Gateway Cascades, a holding company for the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA), owns the hotel, which includes the lodge, spa and its restaurants as well as the gift shop located in the lobby and at the falls.

Coastal intends to partner with another investor for the purchase of the hotel, but Hutsen would not comment on whether an investment partner was found.

Hutsen also would not disclose the amount the company intended to bid.

King County property records show the property was valued for the 2007 tax year at about $14.9 million -- about $500,000 for the land and $14.4 million for the facility.

It was last sold for $13.35 million by Puget Western Inc. in 1996 to Gateway Cascades, according to King County records. Some of the group's Washington-area investments are in Renton, Bellevue and Seattle, according to the group's Web site.

Representatives from LACERA were not available for comment Friday about the reason for the sale.

Johnson said he did not know exactly how many potential buyers have viewed the lodge, but he knows that number is not indicative of how many bidders are to be expected.

"It's like an open house. Not everyone that comes in is going to buy."

The sale of the lodge is not expected to have an impact on the roughly 250 employees that work there, he said.

The current facility houses 89 guest rooms, four suites and the spa. About 1.5 million people visit the falls annually, Johnson said. Most come during the summer peak season.

Research manager Nick Papa, of real-estate services provider Grubb & Ellis, said typically such a bidding process would involve a set bid period by the seller. Then agents would review the bids over a variable amount of time.

"Typically, it's shorter than it is longer," he said.

Nancy Kelsey: 206-464-8305 or nkelsey@seattletimes.com

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Copyright (c) 2007, Seattle Times

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