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Originally published Thursday, March 13, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Sailor at heart finds new berth as general manager of the Inn at Port Ludlow

Paul Wolman has helped manage hotels far and wide, from the Helmsley Palace in New York to the Hawaii Prince in Honolulu. Locally, he spent five...

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Paul Wolman has helped manage hotels far and wide, from the Helmsley Palace in New York to the Hawaii Prince in Honolulu. Locally, he spent five years as food and beverage director at Snoqualmie's Salish Lodge, often rated among the world's best small hotels.

And after starting as general manager of the Inn at Port Ludlow in late January, the native Belgian is perfectly content, far from the madding crowd, looking out at snowy mountains and calm waters.

The soft-spoken Wolman, 67, is a sailor at heart. He piloted his own Lafitte 44 sailboat from California to Hawaii in 1989, and wandered the Pacific with other sailing friends. But now he's eyeing Puget Sound, and in the market for a new sailboat to moor at Port Ludlow. "The waters here are exceptional," he said.

On a recent sunny morning, he had just returned from a walk with his golden retriever puppy out to the resort's waterfront totem pole, from which they watched a bald eagle take wing. "That was something to see. It suggests all kinds of poetry, all kinds of feelings ... You can be in Venice and all you'll see are pigeons — and mostly their rear ends. We have the earth, water and two chains of mountains!"

His ambition at Port Ludlow is to complement that scenery with dining of such quality that it will draw not only more locals, but visitors from around the world.

"You attract people by their belly and their taste buds," he said. He plans natural foods from local farmers, fish from the bay, local beef and chicken, jams "made by a local lady," and artisan cheeses from the region.

"I think word will spread, that there's a little jewel in the middle of nowhere that's worth the trip."

— Brian J. Cantwell

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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