Not long after our 2009 trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country, the eco-friendly Allison Inn & Spa opened in the town of Newberg, about 45 minutes south of Portland. So at the end of our recent road trip along the Oregon Coast, we turned inland for an incognito visit.
The inn sits near the edge of town, a mile off busy state highway 99W along a gentle, south-facing slope with flower-dotted lawns, hazelnut trees and five acres of Pinot Noir vines in neat rows that run uphill toward evergreens at the crest.
The four-story inn achieves a contemporary look with traditional lodge materials of wood and stone. It’s clad in panels of engineered wood stained in yellow and brown earth tones, while structural accents around oversize windows and glass entrances are of Montana stone. Solar panels on the roof announce the inn’s eco-friendly intent, but other reminders are found throughout, from the fact sheet in each room detailing green practices that earned the inn its coveted LEED rating (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to the small sign on a low stone wall advising that choice parking spaces are reserved for “electric and hybrid cars only.”
The main entry is on the north side of the building, where we were greeted by young and eager attendants and ushered into the soaring lobby. Off the lobby, one four-level wing contains the 85 guest rooms (eight suites). In the other direction, beyond the lobby Living Room, are a bar/lounge and the Jory restaurant. A striking, glass-enclosed circular stairway connects all floors and leads to the expansive spa on the lower level.
Guest rooms offer pastoral views of the vineyard or landscaped slopes and the hills beyond. Most have king beds. Each has a small terrace or balcony, automated window shades, original local art and a generous closet with a sturdy built-in ironing board. A cushioned bay-window seat invites curling up with a book next to the copper-tiled gas fireplace. Overhead cabinetry conceals a flat-screen TV. Tiled baths hold twin vanities, roomy showers and separate six-foot soaking tubs set below sliding panels that open to the bedrooms and their views. Our corner Grand Deluxe King also had an expanded floor plan that provided a dining nook with a table and four chairs.
The Allison, not surprisingly, picks up on the Oregon wine country theme, celebrating the wine and the terroir.
Newberg happens to be the boyhood home of Herbert Hoover, the nation’s 31st president, and the house he lived in — his uncle’s, actually — still stands, restored and looking much the same as it did when he arrived there, orphaned, in 1885. It is now a museum. Hoover enrolled at a newly founded academy, now well-regarded George Fox University, which, in its literature, lists him among notable alumni. But while you could probably spend a month in Newberg and not hear of its Hoover roots, you could hardly spend an hour without being reminded that it is surrounded by Oregon’s wine country.
The Allison, not surprisingly, picks up on that theme, celebrating the wine and the terroir. There is, of course, the five-acre Pinot Noir vineyard from which the inn hopes to bottle its own label this year or next. There is the restaurant’s 8,000-bottle Oregon-centric wine cellar, and the restaurant’s name, Jory, derived from the name of the local soil. And there are the spa treatments, such as its “Pinot Therapy” and the signature “Grape Seed Cure,” offered in the sleek, sophisticated 15,000-square-foot facility.
The tranquil, high-ceilinged space contains 12 treatment rooms; men’s, women’s and coed lounge areas; a terrace and gardens; and sauna/steam rooms. There, a sympathetic masseuse skillfully soothed muscles still aching from hours spent in the car. The “Grape Seed Cure” incorporates a crushed grape seed scrub and an organic honey and wine wrap followed by a shea butter massage. The “Mimosa Massage” features champagne oil accompanied by the eponymous beverage. Adjacent to the spa is a state-of-the-art fitness studio and a luxurious indoor swimming pool flooded with natural light. In fine weather, floor-to-ceiling glass doors open to the outside.
The Allison has much going for it, positioned as it is within a burgeoning wine-growing region, a little more than an hour over the Coast Range from the Pacific Ocean, and just 25 miles from lovely Portland and its wonderful restaurants and quirky attractions. With a handsome, comfortable facility and amiable staff, The Allison offers a good beginning or ending to a coastal road trip, or a pleasant base for a Willamette Valley wine tour. One shortcoming during our visit, however, prevents us from being more enthusiastic: We were disappointed by the restaurant. While it was attractive and stylish, with good views of the pretty property and beyond, the kitchen simply didn’t measure up. Happily, the area’s wine focus has encouraged a surprising number of fine, chef-owned restaurants within minutes of The Allison, and the concierge was able to recommend several.
The Allison Inn & Spa 89 Grand Deluxe King, $355. 2525 Allison Lane. Tel. (503) 554-2525.