Leavenworth resort is rustic — and opulent
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, outside Leavenworth, offers Seattleites an opulent yet eco-minded retreat, with some cultural possibilities on the side
Seattle Times arts writer
Sleeping Lady and Leavenworth
You can get to Leavenworth by car, Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) or Northwestern Trailways buses (www.northwesterntrailways.com). The train and bus both take just over 3 hours. Driving time, via Stevens Pass or Blewett Pass, is a little less.
Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort is at 7375 Icicle Road, Leavenworth, a few miles outside the town. 509-548-6344 or 800-574-2123; www.sleepinglady.com.
Rooms, depending on which one you get, can accommodate between 2 and 8 people. Total capacity for the resort is 200-250 people. Shoulder-season rates are in effect through Oct. 31, and winter rates kick in Nov. 1 through April 30. A variety of packages are available. One of the most popular is the "Great Escape," which includes lodging, dinner and breakfast for two ($283 until Oct. 31; starting at $238 from Nov. 1 through April 30, depending on which nights you stay; higher holiday rates apply).
Other packages offer spa services, yoga classes, downhill and cross-country ski excursions, and special holiday meals and activities (Christmas-lights tours, sleigh rides).
For information on other Leavenworth hotels, B&Bs and events contact the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center: 509-548-5807 or www.leavenworth.org.
Northwest travel guides
We were headed for the ecologically minded Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort outside Leavenworth — so we decided to do it the environmentally conscientious way, by using public transit.
Actually, our motives weren't quite as high-minded as that.
Our car had developed the automotive equivalent of sleep apnea and, at highway speeds, would sometimes stop "breathing" when going uphill — not a good idea on mountain passes.
The Amtrak train, which stops in Leavenworth, was sold out. That left the Northwestern Trailways bus as our only option for the three-hour ride from Seattle.
After two nights in downtown Leavenworth, we went by taxi to Sleeping Lady. Our driver told us that we'd find the resort a real step up from where we'd been staying — the Howard Johnson Express Inn — and she was right.
Sleeping Lady, about three miles from the center of town, has an oddly opulent rustic atmosphere. Its grounds are a shady grove of rattling aspen and pungent ponderosa pine, laid out with an artful artlessness. Paths lead between the trees, up onto a bluff overlooking Icicle Creek or off to an organic garden with spectacular views of the Stuart Range. Works by Dale Chihuly, Gerard Tsutakawa, Tony Angell and other artists are peppered around the grounds. Each building, each hut, each pathway had been constructed with an eye for appealing detail.
Fountains splash here and there, the most splendid being the double-waterfall by the resort's Grotto Bar. A sculpted leaf in painted porcelain, about 3 feet across and 2 feet high, adorns one of its patios. A raven's shadow, cut from dark stone, "flies" across the paving of another.
The outdoor "grotto" is matched by an indoor, boulder-lined "conversation pit," where you can watch the resort's only television set (tuned to a sports channel when we ventured inside). Each room has a radio/CD player with an iPod port.
Rooms are handicap friendly, with ramps leading up to the decks they front, and handlebars around the toilet and shower. Room-keys come with an LED penlight that helps you find your way around the grounds at night. (Paths are lit, but not overly bright.)
Former fishing ground
For those who want to take a dip, an outdoor rock-lined hot pool is open year-round. (The larger nearby swimming pool is only open in the summer).
While Sleeping Lady's grounds are open to the general public if there isn't a special event going on (a wedding, for instance, will close it off), you need a room key for access to the hot pool, sauna, fitness room, playhouse (filled with family games) and library (furnished with handsome wicker furniture and an old upright piano).
All of Sleeping Lady was created with environmental concerns in mind. The 67-acre site was once a Native American fishing ground. Between 1934 and 1942, it was "Camp Icicle," the base for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work-relief program (some CCC buildings are still extant on its grounds).
It subsequently became a private dude ranch and a church-camp for the Yakima Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, before being acquired and developed by Seattle philanthropist Harriet Bullitt in the 1990s. The name she gave it, Sleeping Lady, comes from a nearby peak. (Bullitt, now just a few years short of 90, still lives across Icicle Creek from the resort, and commutes between it and her home via a chairlift rigged over the creek.)
The resort has an energy-efficient agenda and its recycling philosophy is realized in the construction materials in many of its buildings. The latest addition to the resort's eco-minded perks is its on-site electric-vehicle charging station, available to overnight guests on a complimentary basis.
The resort's stated mission is to "adapt our activities to what the earth provides for us and ... not attempt to superimpose the unnatural within the natural." But "natural" doesn't mean "uncomfortable." The bedding in the rooms is plush. The public spaces are stylish and inviting. And the dining is delectable.
Salmon and salad
All meals are served buffet style in the Kingfisher Dining Lodge, a big hall with cathedral ceilings built of honey-colored timber. The night we stayed, the menu featured a tasty fennel-flavored salmon, some delicious clove-spiced pork and a vegetarian lasagna. Still, the salad bar stole the show, especially the spicy Thai squid salad.
The breakfast was even more varied, offering several kinds of eggs, meats, fruit, pastries, oatmeal, yogurts, French toast, lox and bagels, and more.
If your tastes run to the cultural, Icicle Creek Music Center (ICMC) is on the site and in easy walking distance of all Sleeping Lady accommodations and facilities.
Upcoming events include the Sankusem African Music and Dance Festival (Oct. 28-30), recitals by New Age pianist Scott Cossu (Nov. 5) and ICMC's marvelous in-house ensemble, the Icicle Creek Piano Trio, performing works by Brahms and Mendelssohn (Nov. 12). Holiday concerts follow on Dec. 10 and 17. For more information, go to www.icicle.org or call 877-265-6026 (toll free).
Michael Upchurch: email@example.com
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