UPDATE: Shock, Concern in Kirkland on Heathman Closure; GM: No Layoffs

The hotel's general manager says no employees have been laid off after a water line break early Friday morning caused major damage to the hotel, its spa and acclaimed restaurant, which all could be closed until August.


Shock and concern were being expressed in downtown Kirkland Tuesday about the sudden closure last Friday of the because of a water line break, perhaps until Aug. 1.

The Heathman, one of two upscale boutique hotels in Kirkland along with the at Carillon Point, suffered “catastrophic flood damage,” according to a sign posted at its entrance, from the water line break early Friday morning.  A statement released by the hotel that afternoon said it would reopen by Aug. 1, and a second statement issued Monday afternoon said it would provide a progress report with an updated projected opening on Friday, June 1.

“It’s just horrible,” said Bruce Wynn, executive director of the , which maintains an office directly across Kirkland Avenue from the Heathman. “That’s a huge blow, to be down for two months. The Heathman is a large presence downtown.”

Les Utley, Heathman general manager, said the hotel has not laid off any employees and has no plans to do so. "We have not laid off one single staff and we're doing everything possible to protect and keep this staff intact for our reopening," he said.

The water line break caused extensive damage to the first floor, he said, including the hotel's acclaimed restaurant Trellis and its Penterra spa, as well as the floor below, which hosts the hotel ballroom. The hotel, restaurant and Trellis are all closed until they can be repaired.

Utley said an internal water line broke, and the cause was unrelated to the sewer main work currently underway on Kirkland Avenue by King County.

"The damage was extensive to the first, street-level floor. There was penetration through marble floors and the wood floors in the restaurant, and to light fixtures and things on the floor below," he said.

The hotel, of course, does have insurance. "We have incrediby supportive ownership and incredibly supportive insurance," Utley said. "We're doing everything we can to reopen as soon as possible."

Utley declined to offer a damage estimate at this time. But he said the hotel would take advantage of the closure period to undertake upgrades and other projects the hotel has wanted to do, but hesitated to take on for fear of inconveniencing guests.

The water line problem occurred at 1:45 a.m. Friday, just before Memorial Day Weekend. Management at the Heathman’s competitor, the Woodmark Hotel, also expressed concern and said it would help as best it could.

"We feel for them," said Woodmark General Manager John Armstrong. "We're doing whatever we can and are currently helping with their displaced guests. We're in the same business, so we understand what they're going through. They're our neighbors, and what happened was unfortunate."

Heathman GM Utley has been a major force in Kirkland’s civic affairs since the hotel opened in 2007. He has been active with the Chamber of Commerce and has served as a board member of the afilliated Kirkland Downtown Association. The Heathman has hosted the chamber’s annual fundraising auction and dinner, and its staff have .

“The Heathman was huge for our (recent) auction, with what Les did to keep the costs down and his donations to the auction,” Wynn said. “I feel like we should have an auction for him now.”

Wynn said he had heard from many people in Kirkland about the closure. “People are just sharing the news and sharing their concerns about it.”

Ellen Miller-Wolfe, the City of Kirkland’s economic development director, also expressed shock at the news. “It’s really unfortunate,” she said. “They put so much energy into everything they do in Kirkland, and it’s the peak season. I wish I could help in some way.”

Kirkland Patch food and dining columnist Julie Arnan said losing the Heathman’s Trellis restaurant until August would leave a large hole in the Kirkland dining scene this summer.

“It’s really ,” she said. “It’s so unfortunate. Trellis is really elegant, a great place to go have a glass of wine. As far as downtown dining goes, it's the best place in town. It’s too bad.”

Here is the latest statement by the Heathman, which last winter was.

“In the early morning hours of Friday May 25th, The Heathman Hotel Kirkland experienced a main waterline malfunction resulting in significant and extensive damage to the hotel, Trellis Restaurant and Penterra Spa.  As a result, the entire property will be closed until August 1, allowing for repairs and renovations.  In the meantime, we have relocated guests, groups and events to facilities nearby.  As a commitment to our guests, employees and the Kirkland community, we are working with crews around the clock to reopen as quickly as possible. We will have a progress report available on June 1st at which time we will provide an update for our projected reopening. Those individuals with reservations, who need assistance with relocation, please call our main number 425-284-5800 and our guest services staff will be available to assist you in selecting alternate accommodations.  Clients with corporate or Private Dining events will be contacted by their Heathman sales representative directly for assistance. We sincerely thank those who have reached out to us. Your support and encouragement has been humbling and most appreciated. Please know that we are committed to bringing The Heathman Hotel, Trellis Restaurant and Penterra Spa back to full-service expeditiously and better than ever.”


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