SEPTEMBER 15, 2008
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Three Tulalip-carved totem poles greet visitors in the lobby of the new Tulalip Resort Hotel, where Brett Magnan is executive vice president and the proponent behind the hotel’s new Tulalip Hospitality culture.

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Snohomish County Business Journal/JOHN WOLCOTT The Tulalip Tribes “story” poles in the hotel’s lobby get a lot of attention from guests. A view from the second-floor balcony offers a fresh perspective.

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Snohomish County Business Journal/JOHN WOLCOTT Past the welcoming story poles in the lobby of the hotel is the reception desk, with restaurants and the casino to the right and the conference center and pool to the left.

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Snohomish County Business Journal/JOHN WOLCOTT Tulalip Resort Hotel’s 15,000-square-foot main ballroom can seat more than 1,000 people, plus there is a smaller 5,000-square-foot ballroom and two executive board rooms, making the hotel the largest convention center between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Conventions at Tulalip already are booked to 2011, with tentative sign-ups logged into 2013.

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Snohomish County Business Journal/ JOHN WOLCOTT The hotel’s landscaped pool provides a setting for weddings, conventions and breakout sessions as well as for the comfort and enjoyment of guests.

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Snohomish County Business Journal/JOHN WOLCOTT Quality gifts sold at the hotel include reminders of the rich heritage of Native Americans, as well as artwork, pottery and a variety of decorative home items and clothing.

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tuallilp spa
John Wolcott, Editor
Dave Clark, Assistant Editor
Published: Saturday, August 30, 2008

New hotel promotes Tulalip hospitality

The success story of the $130 million, 12-story Tulalip Resort Casino Hotel that held its grand opening in mid-August is essentially a story about exceeding expectations.

Executive Vice President Brett Magnan said that’s the most common reaction from those who have seen or stayed at the hotel for the first time. In return, the public’s response has brought a volume of business to the new Tulalip venue that Magnan said “exceeded our expectations.”

“Our grand opening Aug. 15 was noting short of spectacular for hundreds of guests that included state, county and city officials, vendors, legislators, area tourism bureaus and potential corporate customers that included Boeing and others from the greater Western Washington area. More than 400 tribal members participated, too, ” Magnan said.

“It was an opportunity to show what we could do and we pulled out all the stops. We’ve proven our ability to serve nearly 1,500 banquet meals at once, to have pool parties, entertainment, a wide variety of foods and, most of all, an attitude we like to call ‘Tulalip Hospitality.’”

People are familiar with ‘Southern Hospitality’ and’ Aloha Hospitality,’ he said, but the Tulalips are becoming known for their own cultural brand of welcoming hospitality. Much of the training for the 400 new employees at the hotel — bringing total Quil Ceda Village jobs to 2,400 people — involves instilling a commitment to creating a positive experience for guests, at a level behond their expectations. The hotel’s motto is: “Our best today. Better tomorrow.”

Those commitments, well used, create the culture of Tulalip Hospitality Magnan envisions. It’s already working.

“We’ve had people and groups who normally don’t think about coming this far north (from King County and other areas) to visit a casino or book a conference. But so far those who come up here to see us have all signed up,” he said.

Troy Longwith, the hotel’s director of sales, said he already has “a couple of million dollars worth of business booked for rooms, parties, conferences and banquets through the end of the year.”

Room occupancy has been above 80 percent on average, with weekends sold out and exceptional revenues flowing in from movie rentals, restaurants, entertainment venues, food and beverages and the hotel’s gift store and floral shop, he said.

“People often pay more than our rates in the Seattle area, but we have a 10.5 percent room tax compared to 16.3 in Seattle. Also, we don’t have parking fees and guests get free valet service here,” Magnan added. “Each room has free high-speed Internet service and many other value-added features, including free local telephone calling, within a ‘local’ area that goes far beyond just Marysville.”

The new 370-room hotel — built under budget and opened on time — is linked to the Tulalip Casino’s 192,000-square-foot of gaming. Nearby is the 3,000-seat Tulalip Amphitheatre used for summer music entertainment and 110 stores at Quil Ceda Villages’ premium outlet mall.

Entering the lobby visitors see three giant Tulalip story-poles, a signature feature that attracts everyone for a closer look. The 19-foot-tall Welcome Pole features a Tulalip man with arms outstretched in the traditional tribal sign of peace. The other two, each 24-feet-tall include the Gambling Pole, with its man playing Slahal with a bear, and the Story Pole, representing traditional stories from hundreds of years of Tulalip culture.

Significant features of the hotel include the T-Spa on the second floor, a 14,000-square-foot luxury spa with 16 treatment rooms and services that include a manicure, pedicure, makeup, massage therapy and a wellness program. Men’s and women’s locker rooms include Eucalyptus steam rooms tiled in mosaics, saunas built from cedar, and rock grotto showers.

Restaurant options include fine dining in the elegant setting at Tulalip Bay; Pacific Northwest salmon and seafood at Blackfish; the casual, relaxing environment at Cedars Café; a selection of international dishes at Eagles Buffet; sandwiches, pizza and pastries at Canoes Carvery; a high-energy lounge, a new nightspot with visual presentations that include the electric glow of holographic, backlit signage at the entrance and floor panels of “liquid lava” that swirl and change with each step.

The gallery lounge, near the obby, has a see-through fireplace, museum-quality Tulalip tribal art and red, white and black furnishings. A coffee bar, in the lobby of the hotel, offers complete beverage service using Tulalip’s Killer Coffee with pastries.

Nearby is the Tulalip Resort Conference Center, with 30,000-square-feet of flexible meeting and reception space that includes a 15,000-square-foot ballroom that can seat more than 1,000 guests, a smaller 5,000-square-foot ballroom, two executive board rooms and several breakout options. The center includes an indoor swimming pool landscaped for weddings, breakout sessions and special occasions.

Above all of this are the rooms and suites, including the hotel’s standard 500-square-foot guest rooms (far larger than the average hotel rooms in the regional of 300-square-feet or less), with rates starting at $200 per night. Each standard room has a large-screen television set, a luxurious bathroom and a warm, high-quality décor with rich, warm woods and fabrics. The 23 suites on the top levels of the 12-story hotel are decorated in themes catering to technology, Orca whales, Asian décor and – on the top floor – the 3,000-square-foot, Cascade Mountains-view Tulalip Suite with a rack rate of $3,000 per night.

The hotel’s accommodations are attractive, but Magnan is looking beyond that, saying that the main magnet for conventions, tourists and gaming enthusiasts is the “sense of discovery” that people enjoy when they visit.

“When you come to Tulalip for shopping or gaming you’re making new discoveries in the process,” he said. “It may be a favorite restaurant or Native American art in the gallery, our destination day spa, the largest ballroom north of Seattle, the outlet stores or the amphitheatre. People find themselves thinking about what else they might have missed up here. This is a whole new experience and a new area to many people who aren’t used to coming here.”

Now that the hotel is providing a luxury environment for exploring and discovering, the Tulalip Tribes have more surprises in store. Magnan said more outlet stores will be added soon much closer to the hotel and casino. Walking trails around Quil Ceda Village will be expanded and only two miles away the Tulalips will open their long awaited tribal museum within the next year.

“When we surveyed people before building the hotel we discovered that one attraction people named most often - some 85 percent of them - as something that would make a difference in coming here or not was whether they could learn more about the culture and history of the Tulalip Tribes. We have much of that now and will soon have even more,” he said.

Also, he noted, there are fine golf courses close by, whale watching tours on Puget Sound, mountain drives in the nearby Cascade Mountains, boating marinas and a conceierge to arrange services or trips for guests.

The presence of the hotel, casino, stores, restaurants and amphitheater with its top ranked singers and bands during the summer months are all part of creating a destination resort that will increase tourism in Snohomish County and Washington state. Magnan points out that the whole resort is designed to rank as one of region’s top quality attractions.

Already, the hotel is booked for hosting world athletes who are competing in Skate America on the ice at the Comcast Arena in Everett. It’s one of the top figure skating events preceding the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.

Then, in 2010, many of the tens of thousands of people attending the Olympics are expected to stop at the hotel on their journey north to British Columbia, which will provide more world awareness for the world-class resort.

“We’re now competing with San Diego, Philidelphia and other cities for major conventions that often look elsewhere for their conferences. Locally, we’ll also do a lot of business with weddings, area conferences and business luncheon or breakfast meetings,” said Longwith, who noted that sales are already ahead of expectations, from local groups to major conventions.

“We’re booking conferences to 2011, 2012 and 2013, with firm contracts for conferences into 2011. In the first four-to-five months we have more than 100 business groups coming in and they’re ideal conferences and conventions, coming in on Sunday and leaving on Thursday. That’s why hotels like to see. We have 30 holiday parties planned in December, tour groups and end-of-the year gatherings,” he said. “We’re competing now with resorts such as Skamania, Skagit and Cour ‘de Lane.”

One of the next markets for the hotel to develop is corporate business, so they’ll be talking with Boeing, Fluke and others in the area soon, he said.

“Our business helps everyone,” Longwith said. “Already, on the weekends we’re booked solid or have large conferences during the week, we contact others in the area, including Hawthorn Inn & Suites (at Smokey Point) and Holiday Inn Express (across the freeway from Quil Ceda Village) or Holiday Inn in Everett.”

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