Field Report No. 20151119RC
Topic: Red Lion, red carpet
Conditions: Warm, well-lit, inviting
COMMENTS: Rolling around a somewhat surreal wind-battered Spokane, I'm quieted by each uprooted tree I come across, each downed power line, each smashed car. I steer slowly around the obstacles, worrying about the unprepared and vulnerable, hopeful they are getting good help from neighbors.
I stop in at the Red Lion River Inn to drop off a stack of maps. The place is abuzz with energy. The local guests have come for the electrical kind of energy, but they've found some other energy here as well. Service. Kindness. The energy of hospitality.
Of course, some of the staff are likely among the hundreds of thousands of people whose homes have lost power. But they're here anyway. The place is sold out, and it's time to work. It's these moments when doing one's job in the service industry takes on a slightly different feel—because that service has become a bit more vital than usual for the community.
"Our whole team here will tell you: hospitality is what we do for a living," says Patrick McLaughlin, the hotel's general manager. "It's nice to be able to take care of locals at a time like this—to hold a fair rate for them, and provide a great experience during a tough week."
For the front desk staff, maybe the hardest part about these busy days will be to repeatedly deliver the news that there is no vacancy. The phone keeps on ringing.
KEY FEATURES: The River Inn is very close to the NW corner of downtown Spokane, but with their location just north of the river, it's the most easily accessible hotel to the Gonzaga Campus. It's a stone's throw from lots of local businesses that (yes!) currently have electricity.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Stay at the River Inn while in town for Zag hoops games this winter, and thank them for stepping up to provide great service during the storm. And while you're in this corner of downtown: some tips. Morning coffee and bakery treats at Saranac Commons. Lunch at Durkin's. A great book, local art, wine, and games at the Liberty Building. A first-rate meal at Sante. Nectar tasting room. These places are all within two minutes of the River Inn, or a ten-minute walk if it's nice out.