Natural light spills over white orchids.

Entering the lobby of the Woodmark Hotel is like entering the home of a friend whose décor is mahogany and bamboo, white orchids and natural light spilling from an overhead skylight. We are greeted by Woodmark’s resident mascot, Sydney, a white cockatoo who is almost two years old.

“He’s starting to talk a little,” says Annette Seats, Woodmark’s Director of Sales. “I taught him to say ‘hi buddy'. Our goal is to have him say, ‘Welcome to the Woodmark.’ He almost has down, ‘How’s your stay?'”

Around three in the afternoon Sydney gets tired and gets an hour break. His wings are clipped, and if he lands on the floor he is trained to say, “Nobody Move!”

Each suite has its own residential style.

Our parlour suite at the Woodmark is a welcoming atmosphere of fawn-colored walls and sage carpet, with end tables and TV cabinet of rustic American woods. Folding louvered doors separate the bedroom from the sitting room with its full-size couch and coffee table, cozy paisley chaise, TV and business desk. The Woodmark has 100 guest rooms, 20% of which are suites.

Each suite is characterized by a distinctive residential style. Personal amenities include in-room ironing board and iron, plush robes, hair dryer, coffee maker with complimentary coffee and tea, honor bar, and basket of assorted Northwest foods. Bathroom lights are secreted behind frosted sconces, making them soft and flattering. Each guest room contains London’s Molton Brown personal care amenities, which are also available in the spa. You can also count on high-speed internet connection, telephones with voice mail and data jack, Nintendo, movies-on-demand, and video check-out.

Chilled martinis for four.

An extra convenience in each room is The Perfect Martini, with all the ingredients you want to make chilled martinis for four. Other guest services include Concierge, valet, 24-hour room service, fitness facility, same-day laundry service, and on weekdays complimentary USA Today.

Sliding glass doors in our suite lead to a balcony with a sweeping western view of the expanse that is Seattle’s famous Lake Washington. All rooms face either Lake Washington or Carillon Creek, so you’re guaranteed a view of lake, marina, or creek. It’s a serene experience.

Complimentary Cruises on the
1956 Chris Craft, Woodmark II

The Woodmark Hotel, Yacht Club and Spa is the only hotel on the shores of Lake Washington. It’s an integral part of a 31-acre waterfront community in Kirkland, Washington called Carillon Point. Besides the hotel and spa this full-service destination offers restaurants, a fitness facility, travel agency, scenic Carillon Point Marina, and a variety of specialty shops. Views of the Seattle city skyline and Olympic Mountains make this lakeside setting especially dramatic.

Kayakers paddle to the
Yarrow Bay wetlands.

The lake calls to us and we take advantage of the Woodmark’s complimentary cruise on their 1956 Chris Craft, The Woodmark II. It’s a beautiful wooden boat with comfortable seating for six. And it’s a perfect end to an afternoon complete with a 2004 Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay called “Fourteen Hands". While we sip wine and nibble on a variety of soft cheeses, Roqueforts, and crackers, Eric, our captain, shows us a lakeside dotted with million dollar homes tucked discretely among a forest of evergreens. He takes us under the Evergreen bridge that connects Seattle to the neighborhood of Microsoft.

Captain Eric is summering in the Pacific Northwest and loves cruising on Lake Washington. “This is a chance to see how Bill Gates lives,” he says. “This is what he sees when he gets up and looks out the window in the morning.” Indeed, our cruise takes us past the home of the tech king.

Besides the normal three-times-a-day-in-summer schedule, the 28-foot cabin cruiser can be reserved for weddings, holidays, and other special events. Seats says this is The Woodmark II’s “third season, our general manager’s idea to capitalize on being on the water.” Optional lakeside activities include kayaking through the nearby Yarrow Bay wetlands.

Al fresco dining on Waters' Terrace.

After our cruise we are invited to join other guests and local people at a “country picnic” from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. under an expansive Tent Terrace at the waterside. Seats says they began these monthly events with yacht club members in mind at the beginning of the 2007 boating season, when “We became an ‘unofficial’ yacht club.” Since this is their first ‘season’ “we’re just learning as we go along, but especially the true boaters are really excited.”

A visiting local who works in Boeings IT division, Jennifer Larsen, says: “I live in Kirkland. I’ve been to the spa with friends, spending more time here this summer, especially on Sundays when they do yoga on the lawn. Then we have brunch after.” She also likes the Woodmark because “They’re really good about accommodating me and my guests from out of town.”

Mouth watering meals at Waters.

The sun is setting as we settle into our table at Waters, Woodmark’s signature lakeside bistro on the ground level of the hotel, where an emerald green lawn extends to the sparkling water’s edge. “Casual elegance” is the official dress and shorts are welcome anytime as “many people are just coming off their boats.” It’s a perfect evening for dining al fresco under tilting canvas umbrellas on Waters’ terrace while we indulge in the restaurant’s Seasonal Pacific Northwest Cuisine with a Mediterranean accent. The menu includes Northwest favorites like Wild King Salmon with curried potatoes and rainbow chard; Alaskan Halibut with fingerling potato coins and a saffron-fennel broth; and Dungeness Crab Cake with preserved lemon, shaved asparagus, and a roasted tomato aioli. For dessert we couldn’t resist the Chocolate Banana Dome: a banana-rum custard surrounded by smooth milk chocolate mousse and dark chocolate ganache.

Cody, our waiter, says Waters is the only restaurant carrying wines from an excellent small Yakima Valley vineyard, Kestrel Estates. Their ’03 Sangiovese proves to be a good recommendation.

Waters has a comfortable lakeside atmosphere with warm, rich terra-cotta wall tones and caramel colored wooden blinds. The popular restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Wild King Salmon is a Northwest fave.

Nightly between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Waters bistro theatre kitchen invites guests to Raid The Pantry, a tradition since the Woodmark opened 18 years ago. A buffet of complimentary fruits, sandwich fixings, juices, milk, brownies and cookies—and a soup in winter—is available for middle-of-the-night snacking. Seats says, “Our corporate travelers love Raid The Pantry, especially when they arrive late and don’t want to spend time in a dining room. They can take what they want back to their room.”

In the early morning I awaken to chirping birds and lake water lapping against shore accompanied by the call of the Northwest Black Crow. I’m tempted to take a 1-mile morning stroll along the waterfront promenade to Kirkland’s many parks and galleries, but I’m too relaxed. I want to check out the Aveda Concept Spa, where I find an extensive spa menu of treatments like skin care, waxing services, facial enhancement, massages, hydrotherapy, and body treatments, Hot Stone manicures and pedicures, and even eyelash tinting. For complete relaxation for your body and total escape for your mind, a full-day spa package can be enjoyed with lunch brought in from Waters.

The elegant lobby stairwell.

“We’re a small property with lots going on,” Seats says. The Tent Terrace where we enjoyed the Country Picnic is a semi-permanent structure for festive outdoor theme events or barbecues by the lake from April until the end of October. The grand Lake Washington room can be made into three individual meeting rooms, all with natural light, hi-tech interactive ‘show me’ technology and the option to step outside and enjoy the view of the lake. The Marina Room is ideal for receptions, social functions, meetings, or dinners. With an impressive view through floor-to-ceiling windows of Carillon Point’s stately marina, Seats adds that “we’re sort of wedding central on the week-ends—we did close to 98 weddings this season.”

Fireside pleasures in the Library Bar.

The remains of the day.

A cozy fire completes the intimate allure of The Library Bar, a lounge with a library setting in which to enjoy espresso, cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres. In the winter, afternoon tea is served here.

Just seven miles or fifteen minutes east of Seattle, The Woodmark Hotel, Yacht Club and Spa is convenient to the high-tech corridor of Redmond, Bellevue, and Bothell, Washington. The Woodmark Hotel is a member of Preferred Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, rated both a Four Star and Four Diamond property, and named Seattle’s “Best Overall Hotel” by Zagat’s U.S. Hotels and Resorts Survey recognizing “best service, best rooms, dramatic public spaces and noteworthy meeting facilities.”

My husband says, “It just doesn’t feel like there’s any stress here.”

Woodmark Hotel on Lake Washington
1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, Wshington 98033 or
Hotel reservations: 425-822-3700 or Toll-free 1-800-822-3700

Waters, a lakeside bistro
1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, WA 98033
Phone: 425.803.5595

Feature by Carolyn Proctor, Jetsetters Magazine Adventure Editor; photos by the author and courtesy of The Woodmark Hotel.