We spent Thanksgiving in Oregon. We flew in, brought my mom in and the in-laws drove up from Arizona. Our plan had us staying a couple days in the Willamette Valley, then moving to Portland for the final days of the holiday. Our plan was simple, pick a nice hotel where we could relax and enjoy Thanksgiving and have a great holiday meal. There aren’t many options that offer everything we were looking for, but we found the Allison Inn and Spa and it checked all the boxes.
We knew of the Allison for a few years now, but never had the opportunity to visit. The restaurant on site, Jory, gets high praise too. The hotel is located in Newberg, Oregon, which is about an hour from Portland. This 85 room hotel is situated in the rolling hills just a few minutes outside of town. As you pull on property, the winding road takes you by the Hotel and you loop around to the complimentary valet parking. You can self park, if you prefer, but why would you?
You walk into the main lobby where several employees are waiting at reception. You get a total Pacific Northwest vibe from this place, with the slate floors and abundance of wood grains throughout. Check-in was quick and except for a member of our group complaining about the room rate (which was about $350/room/night). They let us know about the walking trails on property as well as the hours of the spa, restaurant and the bar (really the most important info about a hotel stay).
The Allison is often used for local corporate events – rumor has it Nike and Intel often book the whole property. That being said, this isn’t your stereotypical conference hotel. It isn’t sterile and bland like the traditional conference space. During our stay we didn’t really feel like we were at anything but a nice hotel in the Oregon Wine Country.
Past reception is the main lobby (you know, I hate how at some hotels you have to walk through the maze that is the social lobby just to check in at some hotels, this wasn’t the case here). The lobby area has ample seating around a big beautiful fireplace. We spent many an hour here, enjoying the fire, chatting and working our way through the cocktail and snack lists. We waited no longer than one minute from the time we sat down in the lobby before we were greeted by a server who brought us water, menus and these wonderfully spiced hazelnuts (or as we locals call them, filberts). The service team here was really top notch. While they may not have been the most polished, they were genuinely concerned about your happiness and really pushed to make your stay memorable.
We were given ground floor rooms with small patios. We looked out on the hotel grounds which were in the throes of autumn color change. Red, yellow and orange leaves accompanied the beautiful evergreens making a truly picturesque view. It was unseasonably warm during our visit (15C/60F), so we spent quite a bit of time outside on our patio, walking the grounds or cocktailing by the outside next to the main bar.
The rooms were large and had a king bed, a love seat sized window seating area, a comfortable chair, an adequately sized desk which could be used as an in room dining area too.
The bathroom was very large, with separate shower and tub. The soaking tub called to me, but since we were traveling with family, lounging in the tub with a bottle of wine by myself didn’t seem to make much sense. Next time.
The mini bar was quintessential Pacific Northwest, which included chocolate covered filberts, nutrition bars, chips and filtered water. The water wasn’t bottled per se, but was filtered and kept in a refillable glass vessel, which was much more environmentally sound than all those wasted bottles we toss while at hotels. The mini bar was complimentary, but unfortunately we never got our chocolate covered filberts restocked…that was probably a good thing, considering how much I ate on this visit.
We booked spa appointments months in advance as we weren’t sure how busy the Hotel would be. Would they book up, or would they close the spa for Thanksgiving? We got massages on Thanksgiving morning. The facilities were relatively great. There aren’t a lot of high end spas in the area to compare this to. It was very clean, with proper lockers, both a dry and a wet sauna and a couple showers. The spa was separated into male and female areas, but there was a coed waiting area if you prefer. Honestly the massages were really great. Hotel massages can really be hit or miss and the team at the Allison really hit it out of the park. 90 minutes just flew by.
We ate three meals at the hotel, lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving, plus breakfast the next day. Only lunch on Thanksgiving wasn’t without issues though. We grabbed a casual lunch in the bar, knowing that we had a large tasting menu planned for Thanksgiving dinner…plus all those wonderfully spiced filberts during afternoon cocktails. I had the mac and cheese, while the others all had the smoked salmon wrap. It was a really delightful lunch.
Dinner, at Jory, was an interesting endeavor. We booked our rooms in March – we wanted to make sure that we had a place to stay. Shortly after booking, I emailed the hotel to make proper Thanksgiving Dinner reservations. I was greeted the next day with a response saying that it was too early to make those reservations, but Jory’s manager would reach out as soon as it was possible to make reservations. I followed up again in August and got the same response. Again, I followed up in September and was told that Thanksgiving dinner was sold out and there was NOTHING they could do. I was frustrated and absolutely livid. After nearly half a dozen emails we finally got it squared away and managed to get dinner reservations at 19h30 – a little later than we wanted, but it was much better than grabbing a sandwich at the Safeway. After this interaction, we were a little concerned with how the actual stay would go (remember, this issue popped up two months before we set foot on property). We had long conversations about changing our plans. Ultimately they fixed it, but it took some strong language and the threat of cancelling our whole stay with them before it was resolved.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving dinner. The five of us were seated and we had been studying the menu all day, so once we sat down, we were ready to rock and roll. The tasting menu had traditional Thanksgiving selections that were both individually selected and shared for the table. Everyone else selected the turkey dinner option, while I chose the ham. The turkey wasn’t a turkey in the traditional sense, it was more of a turkey roll, which disappointed most of our table. They enjoyed it, but they all felt it seemed a little processed and the easy way out. My ham was quite fatty and salty, but I do believe I made the best selection.
The next day we wanted breakfast at the hotel, before we went out wine tasting. We arrived at 09h30 and asked about breakfast and were told that breakfast was no longer being served – despite the fact that people were just going in to be seated. As an alternative, we were offered the snack menu at the bar – which only had four-top tables for the five of us. It was suggested that we sit at different tables, or one of us could sit at the bar, while the other four sat at a table. I was really surprised at these suggestions.
I asked to speak to someone else, the manager, the supervisor, someone. With my previous issues with the restaurant team here, I knew that dealing with the manager on duty would get more traction. Usually I don’t ask for the manager, I work with the front line people and almost always we come to a positive resolution. The manager let me know that we couldn’t be seated at the five-top table in the restaurant because it was reserved…for a party of four….at 13h00. They intended on holding the table for 3.5 hours. I told the manager that we had plans to go wine tasting and had no intention of sitting around that table for 3.5 hours and if we were still sitting there at 12h00 she could personally remind me and I’d make sure we left. She balked. I truly felt this was unreasonable, so the discussion continued. They eventually relented about 20 minutes later.
We were seated for breakfast, waters and menus were delivered, then interestingly enough, it took 30 minutes before anyone returned to even take drink orders. It was 10h30 at this point.
The breakfast menu was interesting, as it had a few left over items from the Thanksgiving Dinner, including Turkey Stuffing Bread Pudding and Turkey Eggs Benedict. We were all pretty content with our breakfast selections, but were tired of the service issues at Jory and were ready to make a move.
My mom and the in-laws spent a few hours after breakfast in the main lobby, near the fireplace, reading and chatting while we headed off to hit a couple of wineries. Thanksgiving and Memorial Day weekends are huge tasting weekends in the Willamette Valley. After spending time out enjoying the wineries, we returned to pickup the family and head off to Portland. The lobby was bustling and I sat down to see how the parents enjoyed their time by the fire, the server who had helped me each day, arrived with seasoned filberts and a negroni – the drink that I had started off my cocktail hour(s) with each day. She remembered and delivered without me even acknowledging her. It was lovely. I had no intention of grabbing a drink then, but it would be rude not to enjoy the drink…wouldn’t it?
Our time at the Allison was over. It wasn’t without hiccups, mostly relating to the team at Jory. The hotel itself was quite lovely, especially for the area and in general the service was stellar. Our biggest issues, really came from the front line service leadership at Jory while everyone else was on point. The views from the hotel are so relaxing for me. I grew up just a few miles from the Allison, so it really felt like home and was just what I was looking for in a Thanksgiving break with family.
How do you spend your Thanksgiving breaks? Do you work hard to spend time with family at home, or do you take a trip somewhere…or do you take your extended family with you somewhere? While it was a great time and I thoroughly look forward to another stay at the Allison, I will say, I’m not looking forward to another big family holiday road trip soon.