Don’t be surprised if you see people with the distinctive circular Heathman logo on their jackets bursting out of a certain hotel and cartwheeling along Kirkland Avenue.
That would be because the , downtown Kirkland’s luxury boutique hotel at 220 Kirkland Avenue, has just been named the fifth best hotel -- in America.
“Everybody has been ecstatic here the last couple days,” explained Les Utley, the Heathman’s general manager. “We’ve been ranked No. 1 in the state of Washington for six or seven months now. We knew we were doing well. Now we’re just beside ourselves. Everybody here is absolutely thrilled.”
The No. 5 ranking -- ahead of hotels in Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and many other major metroplitan areas -- was bestowed by the customers of the on-line travel site TripAdvisor. The site let Heathman management know earlier this week the hotel had made an important list, and posted its Travelers' Choice 2012 To 25 Best Hotels in the United States list Wednesday evening.
“That’s the beauty of it,” Utley said Thursday morning. “There are no editors or advertising directors involved; it’s pure rankings from customers. That’s really very rewarding.”
Utley lavished praise on the Heathman’s friendly staff and supportive ownership, a private company based in London. Perhaps what sets the Heathman apart is its combination of boutique accommodations, the Panterra Spa and its acclaimed restaurant Trellis, the latter nurtured by Brian Scheesher, a well-regarded chef who grows many of his ingredients locally on a 20-acre farm in the Sammamish Valley.
“If you read the reviews (on TripAdviser), there are several elements that are really key to this. We do have an absolutely amazing restaurant with an incredible chef. We have an incredible spa. The hotel is well laid out, it’s comfortable. When you put all these pieces together, they embody our motto: ‘Where service is still an art.’”
Bill Vadino, executive director of the Kirkland , called the ranking “a huge accomplishment,” and noted the Heathman’s commitment to the community.
Utley, an Ohio native who has been in hotel management all over the United States - New York City, San Antonio, Vail -- is active with the chamber and has served as a board member of the afilliated Kirkland Downtown Association. Heathman staff have , efforts downtown, and the hotel has donated time and rooms to various local causes.
“The Heathman has been so giving to the community in time and resources,” Vadino said. “And they run one heck of a hotel, as recognized by TripAdvisor.”
Utley said he loves Kirkland and hopes the ranking will bring more visitors. “We really hope this exposure is going to continue to put Kirkland on the map as an option when travelers come to the Seattle area. We’re really, really, really proud of this.”