On the North Promenade, just north of the statue of Lewis and Clark at the Broadway roundabout, is north Oregon coast's largest convention hotel. Fronting the beach with 104 deluxe guestrooms (most with ocean views), the Best Western Oceanview Resort has a variety of amenities that make it attractive to families as well as convention-goers.

Our oceanfront room contained a kitchenette unit housing the micro and fridge, a cozy gas fireplace, and jacuzzi in an oceanfront bay window. Sliding open the door to the outdoor balcony afforded the comforting, continuous sound of soaring seagulls and pounding surf, and the fresh, invigorating smell of salt air. A perfect spot for watching a dramatic rainstorm or a spectacular sunset.

All rooms have a microwave and small refrigerator, TV with free cable and VCR, coffee maker, voice mail, and modem access. Personal amenities include a hair dryer, iron and ironing board.

The Best Western Oceanview
Resort's lobby; the resort
offers one of the largest
convention centers
on the Oregon coast.

Partner and general manager Terry Bichsel says, "Retreats and conferences are our specialty." With over six thousand square feet of meeting and banquet space, the facility is perfect for conventions averaging as many as two hundred attendees. Full catering services include accommodating beach activities and custom menu requirements. There is also a large inventory of audio-visual equipment available.

For rainy beach days, the Best Western Oceanview Resort has an indoor heated swimming pool and spa. An array of shops, eateries, arcades, and cultural attractions is within easy walking distance in downtown Seaside.

A new Italian-themed restaurant, Salvatore's Café, opened in March, 2003, just off the lobby. When the restaurant's namesake, Brooklyn-born chef Salvatore Mammino, visited the north Oregon coast, he saw an opportunity for a mid-priced Italian ristorante with great food served in a "beach casual" atmosphere. Salvatore and Terry, the owner, formerly worked together. Their intention is to make Salvatore's not another coffee shop, but a destination restaurant.

We began our dinner with the calamari appetizer with marinara sauce, a huge portion that amply served two. There's also an artichoke and spinach dip, and tender clams steamed in butter, garlic and seasonings. Soups are traditional Italian Pasta e Fagioli and a hearty clam chowder. Salad choices include a BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad, fresh greens, jicama, jack cheese, black beans, sweet corn and romas tossed with ranch dressing; Caesar with grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon, Prevencal Salad or romaine and raddichio, roma and sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, Kalamata olives and lemon tossed with a red wine vinaigrette; and Balsamic Mista, assorted greens, cucumber, gorgonzola cheese and croutons tossed with balsamic vinaigrette.

Pasta, pollo and pesci entrées are accompanied by freshly-baked garlic breadsticks. Sal's favorite entrées are Cacciuco (ca-chew-co), a shrimp-clam-bay scallop combination in a fresh cream sauce with scallions, garlic, shallots, lemon and wine over linguini; Pacific Salmon Basilico, baked with lemon and sweet basil and served with lemon zest sauce over fettuccine or capellini; Pollo al Limone, a tender chicken breast sautéed with lemon, capers, artichoke hearts and herbs and served over capellini; and a platter of lasagna, scampi and chicken parmigiana called Salvatore's Tour of Sicily.

A selection of thin-crusted pizzas can be ordered that serve one to two persons: The Quattro with four cheeses, BBQ Chicken with romas, onions and four cheeses, Canadian Bacon and Pineapple, and a Vegetarian pizza with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and black olives.

Like French toast? Salvatore's offers this breakfast with a twist: Two pieces of thick French bread are coated with almonds and crystallized brown sugar. Served with two eggs, any style, and two pieces of bacon or link sausage, it's a sweetheart deal at $3.95.

Menu changes occur monthly as they constantly update their recipes for entrées, appetizers and desserts.

The casual décor is coupled with contemporary design, with Old-World Italian reproduction lighting and fixtures, and colored with greens, yellows, and burgundies. A large, colorful mural dominating one wall was painted by Terry's wife, Debbie Bichsel.

Adjacent to Salvatore's Café is Sal's Pub, with a wide selection of Italian and domestic wines, draft and bottled beers, and cocktails. Despite its pub-like atmosphere, Sal's is currently the only non-smoking lounge on the Oregon coast, a fact that doesn't seem to have diminished in the least its popularity.

Let's Stay at the Best Western Seaside Ocean View Resort

Best Western Oceanview Resort
in Seaside is the only non-smoking
facility on the Oregon coast.

With a beachfront location, families often seek the familiarity of a Best Western. "We're kid-friendly," says Bichsel. "We have a great kid's menu, as well as coloring books, crayons and butcher paper table tops for doodling." He adds that since "this is a drive-to destination, not dependent on an airport," Seaside is naturally popular with families.

The hotel opened in 1989, and a restaurant and wing were added in 1991. Last year Bichsel and his partners purchased it, and a three-month renovation, including the establishment of Salvatore's, has just been completed. As part of the restoration, "Two thirds of the rooms have been converted to pillow top mattresses, and we're working on the rest," he says.

Bichsel and his partners see their hotel as a "member of an organization (Best Western) rather than a franchisee of a brand."

Although his family's in Seattle, Bichsel's is at the property nearly every day. "He's a very hands-on owner," comments Leslie Caldwell, Director of Sales and Marketing.

Both Seaside and the Best Western Oceanview are a well-kept secret. The hotel has a ground level wheel-chair accessable room, and is one of the only all non-smoking resorts on the Oregon Coast.

Although there's an ample convention facility, Bichsel says the Seaside convention center has never actively gone to travel trade shows to sell the area and amenities. Bichsel says Seaside's biggest challenge is the lack of knowledge about the destination outside of the region. "There's a downtown development association of one employee."

Bichsel says the area has weathered recessions well. "Seattleites come down (to Seaside) because they feel they don't have good beaches in Washington."

Then there are the area's special events: a Dixieland Jazz Festival in February, the Hood to Coast Relay in August, a Hot Rod Show in September, Sandcastle Week-end, and "of course, the Fourth of July."

Bichsel's hands-on approach to managementBook Best Western has made the Best Western Oceanview Resort one of the top destination resorts on the Oregon Coast.

"In seaside you don't feel like you're a tourist," he says. "People don't treat you like you're just passing through, even though everyone knows you are."

By Carolyn Proctor, Las Vegas Jetsetters Magazine Correspondent.