By Karen Di Piazza
Tom Drumheller, Patrick Nofield and Mike Clark, owners of the newest beachfront hotel, the Ocean Lodge, and the Inn at Cannon Beach, have pulled off the ultimate—the fusion of forest and sea.
In their mission statement, Drumheller, CEO of Cannon Beach-based Escape Lodging, LLC, and Patrick Nofield, president, say, “We don’t build boring, we don’t deliver the usual and we won’t be ordinary.”
The Ocean Lodge was built from scratch, after the Major Motel was torn down and laid to rest. The owners had difficult challenges to overcome; coming up with a theme and competing with neighbors like the upscale Stephanie Inn and residential homes that line 2864 South Pacific Street were major considerations.
Clark said coming up with a “unique look to the hotel was the key.” They came up with an early 20th century timber theme.
The hotel reminds you of a “time gone by,” with nostalgic music, furnishings and architecture that exemplifies that feeling.
Nofield said that because so many residential homes were present, they focused on the transition from hotel to residential. Competing against and complimenting the Stephanie Inn, which is noted for their romance theme, led them into the direction of being “family and pet friendly,” but adding a quality element to it.
“Both the Ocean Lodge and the Inn at Cannon Beach caters to families, children and pets,” says Terri Ferguson, general manger. “We’re not boring—anything but. The owners did live up to that promise.”
Both of the hotels share the same rustic architecture, which doesn’t take away from the natural beauty of the ocean and Ponderosa Pines that surround the property. Once you enter either hotel, you soon forget if you’re in the interior or exterior, which is exactly what the owners had wanted.
The Ocean Lodge has 45 rooms, and the Inn at Cannon Beach has 40 rooms. All rooms have a gas fireplace; color television/DVD player; kitchen-area with refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker; and outside decks. Some have ocean views. In addition, most have Jacuzzi tubs, angled vaulted ceilings and “no fluorescent lighting.”
It’s not difficult to “escape” at the Ocean Lodge, which sits on 27,427 square feet of luxurious grounds and has four bungalow structures that were part of the theme.
The Ocean Lodge features some recycled “nostalgic” material from “days gone by.” The lobby’s wooden floor was once used as sub-flooring in Boeing’s factories that were used by their female workers who came to Seattle to work for them during World War II.
Old bleachers from Astoria High School’s gym have been recycled into a stairway and stained to a cherry-colored finish; the fireplace in the lobby is made from Columbia Basalt stone and the mantle is a piece of driftwood that had washed to shore.
Andy Nichols, a glass artist, created a 200-piece chandelier that is located on the second floor inside of the breakfast room; it depicts sea life and various shell shapes.
“We’re trying to make it feel like a residential home rather than a hotel,” said Nofield.
The sound of chirping birds, leisurely walks through English gardens and the smell of the ocean makes for a relaxing vacation at either hotel.
“Another relaxing thing to do is experience art,” said Ferguson. “Guests can enjoy our on-site art gallery or visit the area for the annual Spring Unveiling.”
The Cannon Beach Gallery Group sponsors this event each year. Artists from around the world unveil their art, which is specifically created for this event, which this year will be held May 2-4.
As you stroll down Hemlock Street, which is the main vein of the city, you’ll see many art galleries with diverse settings. There’s something for everyone; from small and quaint to elaborate, you’ll see for the first time the beautiful results of the creative journey that all of the artists have made.
Whether you’re a serious art collector or vacationer, you’ll appreciate all of the art mediums featured. Everything from plein-air seascapes—representing observed effects of outdoor light and atmosphere painted in an French impressionist style—to the fun encaustic style is featured. The encaustic style method is something any child would view as a cool science project; the artist mixes colors in wax and the colors are fused to the surface with hot irons. Other styles including ceramic to bronze to glass, and functional to decorative to abstract, can all be found.
Each gallery features their “special” new artist during this event; artist Law Wai Hin’s work will be showcased at the Inn at Cannon Beach during May.
“He paints beautiful floral landscapes in watercolor,” said Ferguson.
Because the artwork spans the city, you may choose not to walk and catch a ride down Hemlock Street on a shuttle, which is provided by the City of Cannon Beach and runs every half hour.
“During the evenings, we’re offering refreshments and hors d’oeuvres,” said Ferguson. Timing is everything and the day after this event, the Inn at Cannon Beach is beginning their annual Mother’s Day “Mutts & Moms” week.
During this event, “Fido” gets more than a bone!
“Pets receive their very own basketful of non-human goodies, clean towels and a pet cone, redeemable from the neighboring ice cream/espresso store!” Ferguson said. Mutts & Moms week ends May 11. The Inn at Cannon Beach also offers families a “wild about you,” “birthday blow-out” or “romance package,” each at a cost of $69 (in addition to the room charge).
The “wild” package includes a stuffed ape or tiger, half-pound of boxed chocolates, an animal print candle, bath confetti, choice of champagne, wine or sparking cider and an animal print balloon. The romance package includes a three-rose-bud bouquet, chocolates, heart shaped candle and other goodies. The birthday package includes a cake (choice of flavor) with your name, salt-water taffy inside of a mug and a birthday balloon bouquet.Ferguson said there’s so much to see and experience.
“Cannon Beach is known for Haystack Rock and we were voted the seventh most beautiful beach in America by ‘USA Today’,” she said.
Haystack Rock stands 235 feet high; it’s the third largest coastal monolith in the world and it’s been designated as a marine and bird sanctuary. If you look closely, you can see the hidden wonders in it; tide-pools around the rock have many inertial animals in them, including starfish, limpets, crabs, sea sculpins, barnacles and anemones.
In addition to sea creatures, the Tufted Puffin—squatty black birds with white faces, orange bills and tufted feathers—can be spotted. These birds fly in for the summer to nest.
For hikers, it’s no problem getting to the water; trails through the thick conifer forests of Ecola State Park will lead you there. Ecola Point, which is near the park, has a viewpoint and picnic area, and from there, you can see the whole panorama of the Coast Range. This view is one of the most photographed on the Oregon coast.
“Just a few miles away visitors can see the tallest Sitka spruce, which is located in an old growth fir and spruce forest in Klootchy Creek Park,” said Ferguson.
The tree is believed to be seven centuries old and has a trunk that is 52 feet in circumference.
“Still, there’s the beach, and ours is nine miles wide,” says Ferguson. “Upon arrival, we hand out sand buckets to children, and it’s a perfect place for them to fly a kite. One of our biggest annual attractions is the sand-building contest, which starts June 13 and ends the next day. You don’t have to wait until then to build one; we have plenty of sand!”
People always want to know how this contest got started. In 1964, Mother Nature sent a tsunami to the shore of Cannon Beach, which wiped out its bridge. This left families isolated and bored with not much to do. So, the community gathered for a sandcastle contest to entertain their children. Each year since, the event has attracted visitors and has grown to become one of the largest sand-building contests on the West Coast.
Anyone can participate in the fun. However, the beach is packed during this time. City officials recommend that you pre-register online (www.cannonbeach.org) to reserve your sand plot.
Ferguson said it’s not an intimidating event, but people do need to adhere to some basic rules.
“Don’t bring your own stuff,” she said. “Only material natural to the beach is allowed in the finished sculpture.”
Local sandcastle aficionados judge a castle on enthusiasm, teamwork and esprit of its builder. Before the tide claims its victory, displays will receive prizes of ribbons, medallions and a grand prize.
To visit these hotels, you’ll have to fly into Hillsboro Airport, which accepts commercial aircraft, or for private single-engine aircraft, to Seaside Municipal Airport.
To make reservations at the Inn at Cannon Beach, call (800) 321-6304 or visit www.atcannonbeach.com. To make reservations at the Ocean Lodge, call (888) 777-4047, or visit [http://www.theoceanlodge.com].