Hotel to welcome first guests

Crews at the Independence Hotel are putting the finishing touches inside and outside of the establishment, including the rooftop deck.

INDEPENDENCE — Work crews are putting the finishing touches on the Independence Hotel this week.

At press time, an official open date had not been determined, but hotel staff is in place and will welcome their first guests on Friday.

“We have a large government group coming in for a conference at Western Oregon University,” said Sondra Storm, of Embarcadero Hospitality Group. “We are thrilled to host them as our first group, and look forward to the wide variety of groups, guests and visitors we will welcome to the hotel.”

Willamette Valley-based EHG is managing the hotel.

“We had a hiring fair with over 100 people and selected a stellar team of individuals to be the heart and soul of the hotel, most from right in Independence and the surrounding communities,” Storm said.

Linda Apichell is the general manager.

“(She) has an exceptional background with boutique hotels in the Bay Area,” Storm said. “We’ve appreciated support from the community as we’ve hired and trained our staff. Many of our staff have been working out of Indy Commons on Main Street while we wait for construction to be complete, and we’ve been buying lunch and snacks for staff at local businesses so that they can make recommendations to guests coming through.”

Storm said they want the hotel to highlight the businesses and experiences in Independence.

Hotel rooms feature in-room bar soap from Salem-based Slab Soap.

“They’ve designed special packaging, so guests can take their soap home with them — a treat for them and a waste-reduction measure,” Storm said.

Sojourn, an international company based in Independence, is providing shampoo, conditioner, body wash and Monoi oil moisturizer.

The hotel is in the area known as Independence Landing, 2.5 miles of riverfront property lining the Willamette River.

The team at EHG made efforts to embrace the river, the Independence Amphitheater and Riverview Park, the walkable downtown, and nearby wineries.

“The architectural firm we worked with, Studio C, was incredibly thoughtful about positioning the hotel to maximize river views,” Storm said. “There was intention throughout the design of the hotel to respond to the river, the park and downtown Independence. Our branding team, Limerent, created a palette with blues, teals and natural hues, referencing the river, while creating a vibrant, modern look.”

Much of the artwork is by Oregon-based artists.

“The entire project is rooted in creativity,” Storm said. “It was initiated by the creative vision of the community, so, it feels natural to engage and feature local artists who bring additional life to the story of the hotel.”

Storm said they enjoy collaborating with local artists.

“Featuring local work, rather than ordering art from a catalog, is fun for us. It boosts our team’s morale to have engaging art in their presence, and guests can sense the care and joy present in thoughtful selection and artistry,” she said.

The lobby will have a wall dedicated to featuring rotating work from the River Gallery.

“We were so impressed with the diversity and depth of the artists who own and who show at this gem of a gallery in downtown Independence,” Storm said.

From the headboards to the tables, guests will notice custom work throughout the hotel.

Interior designer, Carole Van Haaften, selected “many one-of-a-kind” pieces to “tell the story of the region,” Storm said.

The tables in the lobby, the room number plates — and even the carpet — have elements that echo the Willamette River, which is viewable from nearly every location in — and on top of — the hotel.

“Everyone is excited about the rooftop deck,” Storm said. “The views up there are unparalleled. It is a special place where you can enjoy the beauty of the river, a bird’s eye view of our local-resident Osprey pair — Ollie and Olga — and enjoy the vibrant, charming downtown Independence scene.”

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