The Allison Arrives in Style

By Yvette Saarinen

The Allison, Oregon wine country’s first luxury hotel, looks right at home in its bucolic setting. Its creators chose substance over glitter and imbued it with texture, inside and out, that tempts the hand to touch.

Final work is under way on Allison Lane, just off Springbrook Road, in anticipation of a Sept. 24 opening. With hills and mountains filling every horizon, it’s easy to forget that bustling state Highway 99W is a mere mile away. The road to the inn features Newberg’s first roundabout, which accommodates traffic flow rather than punctuating it.

The inn is the largest luxury development in the Willamette Valley’s wine region. It offers 85 deluxe guest rooms and suites on four levels, all located in the east wing of the four-story, 154,841-square-foot hotel.

The Allison is named for a local lake, now long-gone, which was created when ice dams gave way and unleashed the Missoula Floods more than 10,000 years ago. The late Ira Allison, an Oregon State University geologist, documented its place in geologic history.

This sense of history inspired the inn’s timeless design, even though the idea of it is more than 20 years in the making.

That’s when Ken and Joan Austin, founders of Newberg’s international dental equipment manufacturer, A-dec, also opened an alcohol and drug treatment center called Springbrook Northwest.

Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann) noted Newberg’s woeful lack of accommodations for visiting friends and families of Springbrook clients.

“I thought I could build a little 25-bed country inn,” Joan said with a wistful smile.

All of the appropriate permits were gathered and approvals secured, she said. Then the Shiloh Inn was built in mid-town Newberg and the Austins put their plans on the back burner.

However, they continued to quietly collect land in the historic Springbrook area, where A-dec is headquartered, and eventually amassed 450 contiguous acres. The first plans were to build a community, with residential, retail and public places and to pay for the hotel by selling pods of land.

Meanwhile, the real estate bubble burst and the plans for the community were set aside.

Instead, Joan, head of the Austin family enterprise, Springbrook Properties, decided to focus on developing the inn and its approximate 50-acre site, which occupies a gently rising, south-sloping hill offering views of the Coast Range.

She was emboldened by the 30-something valley wine industry that continues to draw accolades—and visitors—from around the world and the approximate 200 wineries that have been established in the vicinity.

Sonja Haugen was appointed project manager and Joe Kavale was named assistant project manager. Together, they chose GGLO, a Seattle-based architectural and design firm, to design the project and contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis of Portland to build it.

Vines already are in the ground on The Allison’s own five-acre Pinot Noir vineyard, which is being managed by David Adelsheim of Newberg’s Adelsheim Winery.

Also on the grounds is the hotel’s garden from which Executive Chef Nathan Lockwood will gather fresh produce daily for guest meals. (Lockwood and the inn’s restaurant, Jory, are showcased on page 20 of this issue.)

The exterior also features elaborate landscaping in variations of manicured lawns to rural walking trails. Most of the biggest and oldest trees on the former farmstead remain, along with a blueberry patch that also serves the kitchen in the growing season.

The interior is a study in light and dark contrasting fabrics, woods and fixtures.

Visitors are greeted in a warm entryway, which opens on to a dramatic glass enclosed spiral staircase. The exquisite view is magnified in ascendance of the stone treads that are circled by a bronze handrail. Nearby is the inn’s “living room” where guests can take in more spectacular views while seated in comfortable chairs near a massive stone fireplace.

Also nearby is an arched full bar, which is open to guests and the public alike.

The 8,500-square-foot ballroom features jovial, round, pleated fabric light fixtures in earthy shades of brown and red that were made in Israel. Its textured wall treatment is reminiscent of windblown wheat fields. Like many of the public areas, it has retractable walls that can be deployed to make the space more intimate. The ballroom, board room and meeting rooms occupy a total of 12,500 square feet and open onto outdoor terraces.

The inn’s general manager, noted hotelier Pierre Zreik, said all of the inn’s amenities, with the exception of the pools and gym, are open to the public.

Zreik came to The Allison after serving as general manager of Cavalla Point in Sausalito, Calif. He trained at Lycee Technique in Grenoble, Switzerland. His career spans more than a quarter-century and includes work with the Four Seasons and Hyatt as well as independently owned hotels. Zreik said he loves Oregon and considers working at the The Allison a dream position.

Zreik said all of the inn’s guest rooms, which have floor plans ranging from 485 to 1,575 square feet, have either a terrace or balcony with a fireplace, original artwork and custom-crafted furnishings.

He showed off a double-queen guest room that has a hidden asset. Behind a discreet retractable wall is an oversize bathtub from which guests may take in another spectacular view while bathing.

Room rates range from $295 to $1,100 per night.

As if the landscape and views were not enough, the Allison Spa offers yet another serene oasis. It features 12 treatment rooms and offers a head-to-toe salon, barber shop, spa terrace and gardens, indoor swimming and spa pools, fitness studio, saunas and steam rooms, organic products and lounges for women, men and couples. A private spa suite can be arranged for small gatherings.

Zreik pointed out that while the inn is luxurious, it was built with “green” eyes. The project is seeking gold-level LEED certification, which means that everything that can be recycled is, and very little is discarded. The building’s solar panels produce 7 percent of the electricity needed to power it and the eco-friendly roof is planted in sedum.

All water features use recycled water and water from the city’s wastewater treatment plant is used to irrigate the grounds.

Joan said it gives her pleasure to offer a venue for local artists and a book showcasing all of the works is in the planning stages.

She also said it’s a happy coincidence that a wedding is planned in the inn on the day it opens. She sees it as a fitting symbol of new beginnings.

Joan conceded that it’s been a tremendous undertaking, but emphasized that she’s had wonderful help. “My heart is full. The inn is so beautiful. It’s good for the community and the state,” she said.

The Allison is located at 2525 Allison Lane. To contact the inn, call 503-554-2525 or 877-294-2525. For more information, go to

Yvette Saarinen is the business editor at the News Regsiter in McMinnville.

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