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Originally published August 12, 2009 at 9:19 AM | Page modified August 12, 2009 at 9:19 AM

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Oregon's Columbia Gorge Hotel likely to reopen next month

Bank-owned historic Columbia Gorge Hotel in Oregon is expected to reopen next month after previous owners declared bankruptcy.

HOOD RIVER, Ore. — The historic Columbia Gorge Hotel is expected to reopen next month.

Nobody bid for the property during a foreclosure auction last month, leaving it in the hands of its mortgage holder, Shorebank Pacific.

ShoreBank, which set $4 million as the minimum bid, has retained North Pacific Management Inc. to run the hotel built by timber tycoon Simon Benson in 1921 as the "Waldorf of the West."

"ShoreBank Pacific is not in the business to run a hotel," said Erin Fitzgerald, the bank's marketing director. "The ultimate goal is still of course to find a buyer."

Portland-based North Pacific has yet to set room rates, but they could range from $159 to $259 depending on the season, said Daina Galster, sales management director.

At peak season, 100 to 120 people will work at the luxurious 39-room hotel that sits on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River.

Galster said the company will consider honoring gift certificates issued before the hotel closed in January.

"Our plan is to do the right thing," Galster said. "As each circumstance comes up, we'll evaluate it and work with the guests to make it right."

One such customer is Warren Damon, 45, of Eagle Creek, who bought two $200 gift certificates as Christmas presents, only to see the hotel abruptly close.

Damon realizes the bank and management companies are not the same as the previous owner, Columbia Gorge Hotel Co. (which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after it couldn't obtain financing). But he feels it would be in their interest to honor the certificates.

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