Savvy consumers use the crowd-sourcing capabilities of the Internet to make an assortment of decisions including where to grab a meal and when on vacation, where to stay thanks to sites like TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com.
Enumclaw's general manager Tim Robeck knows this, and part of his initiative to overhaul the local hotel's reputation as an old, bare-bones and unkempt facility is to make sure past guests who've had a less than stellar experience there know that new management is in place and things are changing.
Even if the negative reviews that travelers posted are six years old. Here is an excerpt hotel management left with the earlier reviews:
...as of November 15th 2011 all housekeeping and environmental staff have been trained professionally and certified in cross contamination, infection control and safe yet thorough room cleaning skills at a hospital grade level.
It is the goal of our new administration to provide excellent customer service 24/7.
Since November 15th 2011 we believe we have a results oriented posture....
Nov. 15 date was Robeck's first day on the job.
Since then, as The Courier-Herald reported in April, the front lobby has been completely renovated, the hotel reclaimed its breakfast service from which remains a draw for locals and visitors alike, and you can now see across Griffin Avenue from the front entrance of the hotel to the Logging Legacy Memorial Park and the city library beyond that.
An elegant new chandelier hangs just inside of the entrance way, and a room that had previously been used for storage adjacent to the front desk is now a lounge where guests can partake in the hotel's own continental breakfast and just decompress after a full day exploring the area. In the summer, they can take their quiet contemplations to the inner courtyard decked with colorful hydrangeas and a water fountain.
A variety of locally produced artwork and historical images also greet guests in the hallway as they make their way to their rooms.
The changes alone are impressive, and Robeck intentionally utilized the skills and services of local merchants and artists to help with the remodeling. They include general contractor Dan Kranik, Dennis and Jesstine Bacon of , the , Brooke and Marna Richardson of , John and Penny Blair of , and artists Karyn Holyk, Charles Hubbard, Joanna Ross, Mary Janosik and Sallie Zydek.
The focus on 'local' sets Robeck's vision for the hotel apart from what is usually expected for a facility so close to recreational opportunities at Mount Rainier National Park and Crystal Mountain Resort.
Robeck, a former long-term healthcare distance training manage who also worked as a general manager for Ford, doesn't take for granted that the hotel, largely due to a lack of choices in Enumclaw, draws its share of budget-conscious tourists headed east to enjoy both summer and winter skiing activities.
However, he wants the Enumclaw community to partake in the hotel's services as well and has been making some effort marketing to local businesses like High Point Village and Living Court, as well as St. Elizabeth Hospital, Mutual of Enumclaw and Helac.
The hotel's location in the middle of downtown is itself a big draw, with restaurants, a variety of shops, cafes and parks within walking distance. When friends and family come to town to visit residents at the senior assisted living homes, they need a place to stay, as do contractors and even job candidates for Enumclaw's largest companies, he said.
"I'm trying so hard to make rooms especially for these business," he said. "What they'll get is excellent customer service. We will treat them like our family. We aim to add value to their stay."
Here is a short list of improvements made since Robeck got to work:
- A new wi-fi antenna and routers through service provider Comcast that now delivers Internet speeds up to 24 MB/sec. The hotel is able to split entertainment signals from data usage so guests can watch movies on Netflix on their computers without interrupting service for other guests who might be working online. "We're at HD speeds with our Netflix," Robeck said.
- 14 of 40 rooms have been renovated with new beds, linens, beds and several have new sofas as well.
- Each room now has a microwave, refrigerator and HBO extended
Things still to do include:
- Completing the other 26 rooms
- Adding computer stations in the lounge area
- Adding an infrared sauna to what used to be a spa room
- Converting 5 to 7 rooms into VIP rooms with new, luxury linens
Robeck couldn't put a finite date on when he would get these implemented, given the nature in which trends change in the hotel industry, he said, but he was aiming for May 2013.
The effort to reach out to guests with affordable prices and ensure they were receiving quality customer service has paid off for Robeck, who said the hotel has seen an increase in new business this past summer, which made it possible to hire more staff to help meet the demand.
Reviews on TripAdvisor.com since May have been predominantly positive with comments like "pleasant surprise" and "quaint little inn" used to describe the facility.
While sites like this are able to put the hotel on the map for out-of-towners, Robeck attributes a significant part of his business volume to local word-of-mouth that resulted from his reaching out to the community. He has now opened the hotel's conference room to a variety of local groups for meetings including the Enumclaw Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce.
"That's the biggest difference," he said, comparing past and present. "This hotel is now a part of the community. It never was before."