A Happy Accident: Our Guest House Renovation

One of the most exciting happenings at the Walla Faces Vineyard this season was the recent opening of our newly renovated guest house! However, it was somewhat of a last-minute addition to our spring to-do list…

In February, what you might call a “deep freeze” hit the Walla Walla valley. The winter’s icy temperatures were perfect for winemaking, and made a unique contribution to the production of our new rosé–but unfortunately, they were not so kind to our guest house. Before long, we discovered that a pipe had frozen and burst, flooding the building and ruining the floor, walls, and some furniture.

A team from local First Choice Restoration, led by Randy Wisdom, was there doing cleanup within the hour. Meanwhile, owners Rick and Debbie decided to turn the mess into an opportunity.

Instead of a mere reconstruction, the guest house received a full remodel, to give it an updated, cleaner, and more sophisticated atmosphere. It boasts all new drywall and a new white-washed oak floor. A larger, tiled fireplace is the centerpiece of the rearranged living room, while the bathroom has brand new tiling and fixtures. The updated space is airy, modern, and luxurious.

Our guest house was already one of our favorite places at the Vineyard. It is the largest available space, with a full kitchen and a hot tub. Even better, the windows and private patio have spectacular views of the vineyards and surrounding Blue Mountains. Now it’s more beautiful than ever, and it’s hard to think of a more peaceful place to spend a vacation.

Thank you, February! It turns out that pipe bursting was the best thing that could have happened to our guest house after all.

If you want to see the new space, now is a great time to book it for a few days! Go to http://www.wallafaces.com/hotels/ for details.

L’Occitane en Provence

When you check in to one of our hotel rooms, you’ll soon notice that we don’t stock our bathrooms with no-name soaps or shampoos. We believe that our guests deserve the best, so we use L’Occitane en Provence health and beauty products in our suites.

L’Occitane, of course, makes high-quality products, which is one reason we’re proud to carry them. But in addition to that, the L’Occitane company is an example of a business dedicated to important social causes. Today, we’d like to share the L’Occitane story, so you can know more about the bath products we offer at Walla Faces.

A wide selection of the L'Occitane products we stock in our hotel suites

From soaps to fizzy bath cubes, we’re proud to offer a wide variety of L’Occitane products.

The Origins of L’Occitane

L’Occitane began in the tiny local markets of Provence, France. In 1976, founder Oliver Baussan, only 23 years old, reoccupied an old soap-making factory to follow his passion for traditional Marseille-style soap-making. Using a distillation still, he extracted the essential oils from wild rosemary and used it to make shampoo. A year later, L’Occitane expanded and reserved its very first harvest of lavender.

Four years later, Oliver began traveling the world, coming into contact with exotic new ingredients. He fell in love with the shea butter made in Burkina Faso, Africa and ordered a large shipment.

The little-company-that-could continued to expand, and in 1990 became a fragrance merchant. In 1992, L’Occitane en Provence opened its first boutique location in Paris, and by 1997, the company had also opened various other boutique fronts in other major cities such as New York, Hong Kong and Japan. As of 2012, L’Occitane had over 2,000 stores internationally.

A Brand with a Conscience

L’Occitane isn’t just committed to producing luxurious soaps and fragrances—it’s also dedicated to numerous social causes. For instance, in 2001, L’Occitane began a partnership with Orbis, an international non-governmental organization (NGO), to fight blindness in developing countries. The French company was even one of the first in the world to feature labeling in Braille on its bath products.

In 2006, L’Occitane created the L’Occitane Foundation. This philanthropic organization exists to support the blind and visually impaired, and to fight for the international economic emancipation of women. In particular, the L’Occitane Foundation supports efforts toward these goals in Burkina Faso, where Oliver Baussan first fell in love with shea butter. The United Nations Development Programme has even recognized L’Occitane as an “exemplary company”!

If that weren’t enough, L’Occitane also takes steps to encourage traditional cultivation of the ingredients in its products, doesn’t conduct animal testing, and purchases shea butter directly from women in Burkina Faso, earning their products the Ecocert “Fair Trade” certification. Clearly, L’Occitane is a brand with a conscience.

When you come to visit us in Walla Walla, you can feel reinvigorated by the indulgent L’Occitane products we feature, like zesty citrus verbena shampoo, or effervescent sugar cubes designed to make your baths that much more relaxing. But more than that, you can take comfort in the fact that the products you’re using come to us from Provence, France, home of a socially responsible brand!

Eager to enjoy a luxurious stay in our hotels? Learn more and make reservations here. For more information on the history of L’Occitane en Provence, check out their timeline and brand page.

A Night At the Walla Faces Inns at Historic Downtown

In an attempt to get a customer-eye view of the Walla Faces Inns at Historic Downtown, I spent the night in the gorgeous Suite 4. (It’s a hard life.) In an evening punctuated by tickets to the Powerhouse Theater and a three course meal at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, the highlight of my evening was still the Walla Faces bathtub.

Although the Walla Faces Inns at Historic Downtown was first opened in 2006, the historical building has been a part of the Walla Walla landscape since it was built in 1904. Walla Faces owners Rick and Debbie Johnson bought the property in 2006 and transformed it into the perfect mix of modern design and old-fashioned touches. Since its inception, the Walla Faces Inns have received rave reviews from travelers and a 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. The rooms overlook the quaint Walla Walla Main Street, within walking distance of both amazing restaurants and countless wine tasting rooms (including the Walla Faces Tasting Room right downstairs!).

At first, the process can feel a little foreign. There is no front desk, room key, or check-in system. Rather, you set a four-digit room code. Any time after 3:00, you can “check in” simply by entering your door code at the front door, which opens to a grand staircase, or the back door, which has a convenient elevator right by the parking lot. The system offers a feeling of privacy and seclusion.

As soon as I ascended into the hotel, I was surrounded by paintings, sculptural light fixtures and hardwood floors. I entered my code into the Suite 4 and a whirring noise and a tiny green light welcomed me to my room.

Suite 4 was spacious and well-conceived, with lovely high ceilings. A kitchen (bigger than my kitchen at home!) complete with a full-sized refrigerator, dishes, and pots and pans overlooked a living space adorned with art.  The soft, cozy couch was perfect for snuggling up with a book or watching TV on the flatscreen over the fireplace. The bedroom has a king sized mattress and four down-feather pillows. It opens toward a modern-looking office space. A full-sized  washer and dryer sit beside the bathroom.

Luxury is defined by bathrooms. Fluffy towels. Jacuzzi tubs. Bath bombs. Pretty mirrors. Scaldingly hot water. Well-thought-out bathrooms are what truly have the charms to soothe the savage beast. The citrus L’Occitane bath products and separate bathtub and shower were two cherries on top. My bath was hot, bubbly and fragrant; everything a bath should be.

I slept incredibly well and woke to light streaming in through my window. I’d never realized the brilliance of a memory foam mattress! Gathering my belongings to check out at 1pm was a sad ritual. On the bright side, thanks to the mattress, my back felt awesome…

You can book a night at the Walla Faces Inns at Historic Downtown online by clicking here or by calling us at 877 301 1181 x1.

An Honor for Walla Faces

Tripadvisor certifcateWalla Faces Inns at Historic Downtown and Walla Faces Inns at the Vineyard have been honored with the esteemed TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, an accolade that recognizes businesses for their exceptional hospitality.  Only 10 percent of the businesses on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, receive this award, which is offered every year.  The award-winning properties range from one room bed-and-breakfasts to enormous hotels with over 6,000 rooms.

TripAdvisor calls the awards a “way of acknowledging the great work that many properties are doing, and helping them to stand out from their competition.”

To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must be listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months and, during this time, maintain an overall rating of at least 4 out of 5. The award criteria also take into account the volume of customer reviews about a particular property.  Both locations have admirable ratings of 4.5 stars.

Reviewers who stayed at the Historic Downtown location rave about the sophisticated décor of the Suites and the approachability of the Inn owners, who are always willing to recommend restaurants and attractions.  Guests who experienced the Vineyard are equally enthusiastic, praising the beautiful, relaxing setting.

One reviewer recalls a stay several years later, noting fondly that “The memories are still as vivid as the day I left… it felt as if I were staying in a friend’s apartment.”

Another reviewer enthusiastically says of the Vineyard “don’t stay anywhere else in Walla Walla!”

Debbie Johnson, co-owner of Walla Faces, thanks her loyal customers for their support and for their role in creating the warm, familial atmosphere that makes Walla Faces special.   She says that many people who stay at the Inns are return customers.  “We have customers who have become friends…it’s like having people stay at your house.”

Walla Faces at 20Something: The New Vintage

 
On Saturday, November 17th, Walla Faces had the privilege of pouring for a great crowd at 20something: the New Vintage. This walk-and-pour event at Fremont Studios in Seattle allowed us the opportunity to mingle with younger Washington wine lovers as they checked out new wineries, munched on amazing culinary treats, and sipped some fabulous vino!

Will and I are Tasting Room Attendants at the Walla Faces Tasting Room on 216 East Main Street in Walla Walla. We drove all the way up from Walla Walla to Seattle for this event! Armed with our color-coded winery representative passes, we arrived early to set up and chill our Riesling.

Both the Riesling and the Fusion were standouts for the evening! Many people remarked that we were their favorite winery in attendance. I even got the opportunity to meet the head of the Washington Wine Commission! He told me that he loves the 2008 Fusion and enjoys staying the Walla Faces Inns when he is in Walla Walla. That is high praise!

Thanks to everyone who came to this fun evening and supported us! We hope to see your faces at our next pouring event.