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“A Fairy Tale Engagement”

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Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa
Ranked #5 of 8 Hotels in Hood River
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersSilver level
Seattle, Washington
1 review
“A Fairy Tale Engagement”
Reviewed 5 August 2010

It was my intention to propose to my girlfriend on July 4, 2010, exactly 3 years to the minute of (3:30pm) and at the location (Hood River, OR) where we met. I chose the Columbia Gorge Hotel based on its historic significance in the location where the proposal was to take place. I did not have overtly high expectations, as the hotel had some rough patches with its reputation in the past that I was aware of from the time that I was a local. After contacting the hotel, I was put in touch with Rick Pauly, the new Director of Operations (not but two days on the job!), who orchestrated the forthcoming event. In my humble opinion, his level of service has never been matched, much less exceeded, in my whole life, and I do quite a bit of travelling. What started as a little idea, or “theme,” on my part, was developed into a MASSIVE “symphony” on his!

Our check-in began at 4:00pm with a bottle of our favorite non-vintage Champagne on ice (Pierre Peters Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand cru Cuvée de Réserve), under a set of Waterford Crystal John Rocha Black Cut Champagne Flutes. Both the wine and stemware was received and prepared by the hotel directly, and, to give you an idea of the level of detail that was followed, the champagne bucket was salted prior to its 50/50, ice/water mixture being added to lower the temperature of the melted ice, as per my request.

Then at 7:00pm it was off to dinner at Simons, the hotel's restaurant, where a custom 6 course meal was prepared by Chef Josh Deehr and designed in conjunction with myself, based on variations of meals that I have wooed my now fiancé with over the years! All wine selections were from my personal cellar and received by the hotel and handled individually based on my specific requests. The dinner was served at a private location atop the hotel on its observation deck or "lighthouse," 150 stair-steps above the kitchen! All this was choreographed to the delightful music of The Beatles (our favorite group) in the background on Rick’s personal iPhone and speakers (yes, indeed, he was unreachable to family and friends during the event)!

The menu was as follows:

Chef’s Choice Amuse Bouche
(with our favorite cocktails specially prepared)

Appetizer Course
Seared Foie Gras with Diced Pear On Toasted Brioche & Pomegranate Redux.
(with a 1988 Château Rabaud-Promis Sauternes Premier cru Bordeaux, 375ml)

Salad Course
Frisee Lettuce, Candied Bacon Bits, Cherry Tomato, Egg Yolk, Sea Beans & Sherry Shallot Vinaigrette.

Main Course
Pittsburg Fillet of Bison, Brie & Sundried Tomato Duchess Potato, Truffled Asparagus Bouquet & Basil Infused Demi Glace.
(with a 1989 Château Latour Pauillac Grand cru Bordeaux)

Intermezzo
Blood Orange Granita.

Dessert Course
Apple & Pear Napoleon in Filo, With Honey Dew Coulis
(with a 2002 Earl Gabriel & Fils Metropolitain Brut Premier cru Champagne)

And then, as if in a private salute, the Columbia Gorge lit up with Independence Day fireworks at 10:00pm, just as we were finishing our vintage Champagne. Because of our height and remote location, it is fair to say that the sight was nothing less than stunning!

While much of the specifics were requested by me, the concept and encouragement toward such lavishness all came from Rick! Nearly the whole hotel was at our beck-and-call and we wanted for absolutely NOTHING! When Katie got cold, her jacket was fetched from our room and blankets and a heater were brought. Left over wines were properly stored and returned to the room meticulously. We had 4 people at our constant service and even the pictures that you see where handled by staff!

Following this event our five day stay was extended to six with little trouble despite them being booked! (They upgraded an incoming guest to accommodate my request!) Anything we needed during the stay was sent up without delay. In fact, we felt like Clara Bow and Rudolph Valentino must have during their respective stays in their own day! THIS was the definition of “opulence”!

Rick offered us a personal tour of the grounds later in the week and even took further pictures of us at special landmarks around the hotel grounds! The whole experience was magnificent. Something I would not even expect from higher-class hotels! Rick then said his goodbyes upon our departure with a gift of a handmade (by him!) tea light candle holder made from part of a whiskey barrel. I really could not believe it! All the “unnecessary” details, such as this, were mind blowing!

With this new director of operations at the helm, I suspect that the Columbia Gorge Hotel will soar to new heights and perhaps recapture the glamour of its heydays from the past. I know that after this experience, I expect only GREAT things to come of it!

I highly recommend this hotel (this “experience”!), and even more so, keep an eye on this place! I suspect that it will again grace the pages of publications such as Wine Spectator and Bon Appetite! The initially silly greeting when you call them, “Create a memory at the Columbia Gorge Hotel,” is quickly confirmed as fact with their actions, and upon leaving neither of us found anything “silly” about it! It truly IS a place to “create a memory.” We certainly did!

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Bolt-007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (251)
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English first
Allison Park, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 August 2010

What a pleasant surprise to find an old historic landmark hotel, situated in a beautiful setting, with wonderful service, scrumptous food, very pleasant staff and nice accomodations. This hotel will be 90 years old next year and is a hidden treasure. Remember, it is old and restoration can only do so much, as you don't want to alter the original to a point of looking modern. We just loved it. The views of the Columbia River and the falls on property are outstanding. The food was top notch and very reasonable priced with wonderful service. The grounds are extensive and very nice ( does need a little more TLC) I would highly recommend this hotel.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank rpj9475
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Level 5 Contributor
70 reviews
57 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 July 2010

Though the staff is friendly and the gardens are beautiful, we found this hotel to be over-priced given its dated interior and worn looking building. The decor is probably about 30 years old, and as my mother proclaimed "The decorator should be shot!" Why would you paint the ceilings of guestrooms pepto bismol pink? Then why would you adorn the beds beneath them with ornate, clashing red bed spreads? While the hotel has added some modern touches, like new shower heads and curved shower curtain rods, our sink was pulling away from the wall and you could barely get the shower to turn on because the handle sticks. I've stayed at other hotels from this same period that are beautifully decorated and maintained. I find no excuse for this one to be so dated. Staying here for $240 on a weeknight was a big disappointment! I'd be way more understanding about the decor if the price point was lower- $140 say.

On the positive side, the staff here is wonderful! When we almost couldn't make it due to our car breaking down, they were really understanding. Happily we did as on the positive this hotel is located in a beautiful location! In addition, the servers at the restaurant were especially cheerful and friendly and the food was good. Also, the wireless internet is free.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank sfran_adventurer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
1 review
Reviewed 28 July 2010

My wife and I travel on a regular basis and had never been to Oregon before. Our road trip from the midwest to San Francisco led us through Hood River. We meandered through town and found the Columbia Gorge Hotel. Our first impression was one of astonishment. Driving up to the Hotel the landscape and grounds were meticulously maintained and manicured. They had an area for guests to park as they check in. Almost as if he knew we were arriving the bellman, Rick (or so we thought) was jonny on the spot offering assistance with our bags. He was pleasant to converse with, informational about the restaurant hours and items on the menu and escorted us right to our room via an elevator that he said was the 3rd ever Otis elevator produced. I had forgot my wallet in our car but asked the "bellman" where he would be later so I could compensate him for his efforts and he told us he would be in the dining room or the lounge until closing. We later tracked Rick down and tried to tip him and he politely turned it down offering that he was the Operations Manager and "my compensation will be the enjoyment you both will receive staying with us".
The dinner experience we had was nothing short of a mind blowing experience. Todd was our server who, in his own right, was a professional in his position helping us pair 2 bottles of wine with our dining experience. Between Todd and Rick my wife and I became huge fans of your entire operation. From the checkin to checkout the next day we felt welcomed by all staff members. Rick and Todd went above and beyond any expectations we had and should be commended for the level of service they gave us. We will be returning to the Columbia Gorge Hotel!

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank milesketner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Oregon
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 27 July 2010

Well, sorry to say, I will no longer be making the 1.5 hour drive up the Gorge to lunch at this hotel. It used to be the highlight for visiting friends. I recall selecting luscious gourmet lunches from a 4-page menu, things that included a chicken salad served in layers like a pyramid with one layer of mango salsa. That was just one of many spectacular choices.

This hotel has been taken over from the local owners by some large management company in California. The double-sided one-page menu was anything but special, and the food was so bad, I wouldn't drive across the street to eat there, much less drive for over an hour. The service was terrible. The hostess gave us an unhappy look when we said we didn't have reservations, so we'd couldn't have a window seat. No big deal for us. Yet the place was still only half full by the time we left. And the grounds didn't look so great either. What a loss!!

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank sayrock
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Austin, Texas
1 review
Reviewed 18 July 2010

We heard great things about Hood River and particularly about this hotel. We found the staff and service to be top quality. The grounds are well kept and the views are magical.
We look forward to our return to the Gorge and will definitely stay at the Columbia Gorge Hotel.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank seanburk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver,WA USA
2 reviews
Reviewed 16 July 2010

We were planning on staying up river from there to go to a concert at Maryhill but were given a gift of one night here for our anniversary. For the price ($270), service and quality, we will never come back again. We got there an hour before check-in and asked for possibility of early check-in but no luck (which didn't bother us) so we asked where the patio and bar was. When we got to ordering our drinks, the staff was completely unorganized. The first employee didn't know how to make a mojito, the second employee (director of operations) didn't know if they had mint, and luckily, the third employee walking by happened to finally know they didn't have mint and she made us different drinks but as she said she is not normally the bartender and since their was no organization there it took about ten minutes to make two drinks since she had to keep going back and forth from the back to find different mixers.
We then sat on the patio over looking the river which was very nice, but not once over the next 1.5 hours did anyone check on us. I had to go back in myself to order another drink. The couple next to us got seated out there but left after not getting any service at all.
After that we checked in, the desk employee were not very friendly and rather blunt. The elevator employee was very nice and pleasant :) and when we asked for some help she did a wonderful job and we tipped her.
As for the room, it was nothing special. The blinds on the windows could have been a little better at keeping out the hot sun. Bed was so so. Bathroom decor was very nice especially the tile floor. Although the bathroom door would not stay shut. River view was nice!
Finally, we got back from the concert very late (1 am) and since the elevator was not self-service, you would think they would have a sign or someone there to point you in the right direction to get to the stairs... nope, our employee was playing on the computer in the back office and I had to raise my voice to get his attention after the first two tries.

I know it sounds like a lot of ranting, but when you hear so many good thing about a hotel over the years and then finally try it and this happens, you can get a little cranky.

In the future, we will find a B&B or something else for that price.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank SJfromthecouv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa

Property: Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa
Address: 4000 Westcliff Dr, Hood River, OR 97031
Phone Number:
Region: United States > Oregon > Hood River
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 8 Hotels in Hood River
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Columbia Gorge Hotel & Spa 3.5*
Number of rooms: 40
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
With its historic charm and reputation for excellence the Columbia Gorge Hotel is a perfect location for your next leisure visit in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge. ... more   less 
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