Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wine Country Resort Destination: The Allison Inn & Spa


Have you ever had an experience that completely changed your mind about something you thought or believed? The Allison, for me, was that experience. I'd never stayed at a resort before because I never understood the appeal. The whole idea struck me as stuffy and overdone and I'm too rugged to be a resort guy. Well, this was before the Allison Inn & Spa in Newberg, Oregon let me come stay there and take a test drive on behalf of The Oregon Wine Blog at a special rate.

Nestled in the north end of the Willamette Valley between the Dundee Hills and Chehalem Mountain AVAs, the Allison is surrounded on all sides by the slopes and vineyards that make Oregon a world class Pinot Noir producer. They've also planted some small vineyards of their own onsite, though it'll be a few years before they're mature. The Allison Inn & Spa opened in the autumn of 2009 and it is a spectacular example of Northwest luxury. A LEED Gold certification puts The Allison in excellent company; fewer than 25 hotels worldwide have received LEED Gold status. It also makes the Allison fit firmly within the ethic of the Northwest's commitment to sustainability.

The Allison's restaurant and bar, The Jory, was named for the red soils of the surrounding vineyards in Willamette Valley. The Jory serves bistro style meals that celebrate the local ingredients of Oregon's bounty and the bar has 100 different Oregon Pinot Noirs, including 50 different by-the-glass pours, and various tasting flights, including one of three 2007 Pinot Noirs titled "The Critics are Wrong." Jory sommelier Ercolino Crugnale was recently recognized by Food & Wine magazine as one of the top seven sommeliers in the United States.

There was a lot to be impressed with at The Allison Inn & Spa. Every detail was perfect, and it was all comfortable. The stuffiness I had associated with resorts was non-existent. They let you bring your dog, for Pete's sake. While the Allison pulls out all the stops for you and your pet, it also offers dog walking and pet sitting as well as sweet room service. Elsie made out with some lamb, kale and pieces of baguette.

While Elsie was getting room service, Gwynne went to a massage at the Spa at the Allison. In her words: "The massage was amazing. I could heap adjectives on top of that, but bottom like was that this was, hands down, the best massage I've ever had and more than worth it. From the moment I walked in until I left, the spa and the staff was phenomenal and helpful - even volunteering to keep an eye on the clock for me so I could relax in the steam room. I've never been someone who could sit on the beach all day or hang out at a spa - it seemed dull and not worth the time. After this visit, I completely understand the desire for a spa day. A steam room, a sauna, and the softest robes imaginable... On top of those, the big things, it's such a little thing, but I was really grateful that the locker room had hair ties and bobby pins to tie back my hair. Thoughtful touches like that show me the spa at the Allison knows what they're doing. If you're in Newberg, even if you're not staying at the Allison, make a reservation for a treatment. You'll thank me."

While Gwynne got "one of the best massages of her life" I went to the "living room" off the bar. The fireplace was crackling and I took in the the jazz trio and a glass of Penner Ash Pinot Noir while looking out on the grand lawn as dusk settled in on the Willamette Valley.

We had dinner at The Painted Lady instead of Jory, but all in all, the experience at The Allison was a refreshing one, on many levels. The decor at The Allison is tasteful without being ostentatious and comfortable on top of that, classic Northwest. They've combined luxury with attention to the environment and sustainability, blending the two more seamlessly than I've ever seen.


  1. Clive,
    It was a great pleasure having you and Gwynne (and Elsie) staying with us. We appreciate the kind comments and we only hope to be better and better as the months and years progress. I am also thrilled that you have found what a great experience a small resort like setting can be, and I strongly believe we wouldn't be half of what we are without this amazing team of people that share an amazing passion for service and quality.

    We look forward to your return and thank you again for the inclusion in The Oregon Wine Blog.

  2. I believe that Tom Bean is the sommelier. Each time I have dined he has been very helpful and always has a Pinot that I have not seen before with a price that makes me want to buy more. I have not met the other gentleman.