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Deal to Buy and Reopen the 200-room Semiahmoo Hotel in
Bellingham, Washington May be Near Completion

By John Stark, The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 29, 2013--BLAINE -- Seattle-based Coastal Hotel Group has posted two job openings at the Semiahmoo Resort, raising hopes that a deal for the sale and reopening of the Semiahmoo Hotel may be complete soon.

Ed Schwitzky, Coastal's senior vice president for sales and marketing, confirmed that a deal is near but not yet certain. As Schwitzky explained it, Coastal would manage Semiahmoo for an as-yet undisclosed "investor partner" now in the process of finalizing the purchase of the hotel and golf courses that make up Semiahmoo Resort.

"Both seller and buyer, from my understanding, want to make this happen," Schwitzky said.

The Semiahmoo Hotel shut down in December 2012. If Coastal's partner succeeds in buying Semiahmoo, how long would it take to get the hotel open again?

"That's the several-million-dollar question," Schwitzky said. "The first thing we have to do is assess what we have to do to get it ready. ... I was pleasantly surprised at how well it's been maintained. ... We have our work cut out for us, but we start with a really nice canvas."

Schwitzky said he was impressed with the hotel during a recent visit.

"Wow! What a beautiful spot, and really a great resort," Schwitzky said. "It has a rich history and tradition. It's a little dated, but nothing that can't be improved."

The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe owns a majority share of the hotel and the two golf courses that go with it: Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club and Loomis Trail Golf Club. Harry Chesnin, spokesman for the tribe, had announced a possible sale in March 2013 after giving the resort's remaining golf course employees notice of the pending sale. That notice is a legal requirement because present employees face possible job loss when a new owner takes over, even though many or most could be rehired when that happens.

On Wednesday, May 29, Chesnin said he anticipates a June 10, closing of the deal for hotel and golf courses that has been in the works since March. Chesnin said he was not yet at liberty to name the buyer.

Two other potential sale deals have fallen through in the past couple of years.

The golf courses have remained in operation, but when the 200-room hotel shut down it eliminated close to 300 jobs and threatened major tax revenue losses for the city of Blaine.

In listing the job openings at Semiahmoo for a controller and information technology manager, Coastal describes Semiahmoo as "the newest addition to the growing portfolio of managed luxury resorts and boutique hotels of Coastal Hotel Group, a Seattle-based hospitality management company specializing in distinctive luxury hotels, resorts, inns, and lodges. Established in 1987, Coastal Hotel Group has earned a reputation for service innovation and for providing remarkable lodging choices for the discerning traveler."

Chesnin said he understands that the new owners plan to do some quick fixes and get the hotel up and running before the end of this summer.

According to its website, Coastal now manages the Best Western Heritage Inn in Bellingham as well as upscale hotel properties in Seattle, Portland, Mount Hood and Tucson, Ariz. Schwitzky said his company took over management of Best Western Heritage Inn just a few months ago.

Reach John Stark at 360-715-2274 or john.stark@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/politics or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldpolitics.

___

(c)2013 The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)

Visit The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.) at www.bellinghamherald.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services NYSE:LTD,



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