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Thursday, September 15, 2005 - Page updated at 07:32 AM

New Suncadia resort rolls into Roslyn with luxury inn, golf course

Seattle Times staff reporter

ROSLYN, Kittitas County — As we relaxed with our after-dinner drinks, listening to an impromptu golden-oldies songfest around a baby grand piano at the Prospector Inn's Canary Lounge, I had to wonder: Could the coal miners have imagined this?

Could the rough-and-tumble miners who put this tiny mountain town on the map have imagined we'd be here paying more than $200 a night for a room? That we'd end our day sinking into oversized tubs with the biggest question being which bath salts to use: lavender rose or mango papaya?

And that around us, a community would be taking shape where prices on the choicest view lots — that's lots, not finished homes — would approach $1 million?

Welcome to Suncadia, a 10-square-mile, year-round resort development 80 miles east of Seattle, just north of Interstate 90. It's Roslyn's biggest claim to fame since TV's "Northern Exposure" left town a decade ago.

In the works are more than 3,000 home sites, condominiums and cabins, three golf courses, 40 miles of trails and a central village with a 170-unit lodge, shops, restaurants, a sports complex, conference center, amphitheater, ice-skating rink and 2.5-acre stocked trout lake.

Much of that won't be completed until 2007, but what is already here is impressive: the upscale, 14-room, four-suite Prospector Inn (which opened in July), its Gas Lamp Grille, the Arnold Palmer-designed Prospector golf course and six miles of paved trail winding through stands of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine.

"I didn't expect it to be so luxurious," said Warren Tate, a Pasco music-store owner, staying at the inn recently with three friends en route to Seattle for a Mariners game. "Everyone's been so friendly, and you don't always find that at a high-end place."

If you go


Suncadia resort is located near Roslyn, Kittitas County, 80 miles east of downtown Seattle. Take Interstate 90 east to Exit 80, Roslyn/Salmon La Sac. Turn left, follow Bullfrog Road two miles to the Suncadia entrance.

Lodging

Prospector Inn has 14 guest rooms and four suites. Rooms feature outdoor balconies, gas fireplaces, mini refrigerators, oversized bathtubs, high-speed Internet access. Rates typically range from $230 to $325. Check online for possible lower rates. Ask about "Stay and Play" packages combining the room and golf-course greens fee.

Dining

The Gas Lamp Grille, the resort's fine-dining restaurant, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an emphasis on local specialties. Recent dinner entrees included Clear Springs Rainbow Trout ($23), 12-ounce Smoked Ribeye Steak ($27) and Hoisin-Glazed Ellensburg Lamb Chops ($36). Accompaniments included garlic mashed potatoes ($5), grilled asparagus ($7) and sautéed mushrooms ($6). The wine list reflects a Northwest flavor, with most bottles priced from $29 to $50.

The Lunch Bucket serves sandwiches and snacks from a window facing golfers "making the turn" on the Prospector Course.

Golf

The Prospector course: Greens fee: $75 for Prospector Inn guests, $95 for nonguests, dropping on Oct. 1 to $60 for guests, $75 for nonguests. Check for reduced twilight rates. For tee times, call 866-715-5050. The course closes for the year Oct. 31.

Other activities

Bicycle rentals, horseback riding, whitewater rafting. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Reservations /Information

On the Web: www.suncadia.com. Prospector Inn: 866-904-6300. Real-estate sales: 800-667-1828

Nearby

Wenatchee National Forest, Cle Elum Ranger District: 509-852-1100.

Cle Elum — Roslyn Chamber of Commerce: www.cleelumroslyn.org or 509-674-5958.

Roslyn Historical Museum: Learn about the area's coal-mining history. Noon to 3 p.m. Fridays-Sundays or by appointment at 509-649-2297.

Roslyn's Sunday Market, with arts, crafts and produce, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 9 (www.roslynmarkets.com).

Ellensburg: "Paint Ellensburg," 24 hours of nonstop work by artists, Friday and Saturday at Gallery One, 408 N. Pearl St., Ellensburg. See www.paintellensburg.com.

It was Tate, 52, who had helped himself to a seat at the piano to crank out favorites such as "Runaround Sue" and "Cover of the Rolling Stone," while one buddy used a couple of foam coffee cups to improvise a little percussion and two others joined in on the vocals.

The four, who make these "golf-and-a-game" outings at least once a year, perform together around the Tri-Cities as a band called Swing Shift. And whenever they visit a place with a piano on hand, music ensues.

"I judge a place by the quality of its piano, and this one's pretty nice," said Tate.

Keeping open spaces

Years in planning, discussion and negotiation, Suncadia is owned by door manufacturer Jeld-Wen and Lowe Enterprises, which also operates Sunriver resort near Bend, Ore., and recently acquired Skamania Lodge in Southwest Washington.

Despite the amount of construction planned, Suncadia's creators say they're determined to retain the look and feel of a mountain forest village, not suburban sprawl.

"The most important thing is that we are preserving most of the property — 70 percent of the 6,300 acres — as open space," said Christopher Kelsey, Suncadia senior vice president. "You will always have the ability to get out into the woods a very short distance from your home or from your hotel."

The open space includes a 1,200-acre corridor along the Cle Elum River, which bisects the property. Slated to remain undeveloped and open to the public, the riverfront will be protected by a partnership that includes Suncadia's owners, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Yakama First Nations tribal coalition.

More than 700 Suncadia lots have already been sold; prices range from $275,000 to nearly $1 million. Top-end lots sit on ridge crests in "Tumble Creek," a private community within the development, with its own golf course and clubhouse center.

Yet to be priced are the planned condominiums, including the 170 that, when not occupied by their owners, will be rented out as hotel rooms in the Lodge at Suncadia. The lodge, targeted for a 2007 opening, will be separate from Prospector Inn, which will stay at just 18 rooms.

Inside the inn

Suncadia bills itself as a "four season" resort, and we had a chance to see two of those seasons with a single overnight stay the weekend before Labor Day. We arrived at midday Sunday to bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70s but woke up the next morning to on-again, off-again showers and a windy day that eventually calmed to a partly sunny afternoon.

When the snow flies — usually in late November — a portion of the Prospector golf course will be used for cross-country skiing and snowshoe trails. Snowmobiling won't be permitted at Suncadia, but there are snowmobile trails and rentals in the surrounding Roslyn-Cle Elum area.

Although check-in at the Prospector Inn is 4 p.m., we were fortunate to find a room available when we arrived at 1 p.m. A notice at the registration desk said bicycles could be rented, and that arrangements could be made for horseback rides, river-rafting trips or in-room massages.

The Prospector's rooms are named for mines and mining claims. Ours, Copper Queen, was across from Camp Creek and near Red Rock and Gold Bar. Masculine colors and a mining theme set the tone, with a wooden desk, heavy comforter and cast-iron fixtures resembling tree branches for towel racks, toilet-tissue holder and lamp stand.

Amenities included a gas fireplace, bathrobes, a safe, small refrigerator, satellite TV, coffee maker, lighted makeup mirror, a deck with a rocking chair and a library of more than 60 books, including one on the mining history of Roslyn.

We had saved $30 by getting a "village view" room instead of one facing the golf course, but with so little of the village built, our view was primarily of the parking lot. (Although as night fell, it became a pleasant view toward the Big Dipper. Exterior lighting at Suncadia is shielded and pointed downward to minimize light pollution.)

I had made our reservation more than a month in advance by phone and was told the cheapest room for that date was $245. But I mentioned that on Suncadia's Web site, I'd seen a price of $215. The reservation clerk said that rate is intended for people who book online, but that she could give it to me because I asked about it.

She also noted an additional $10 "resort fee," which she said covered features such as local phone calls, Internet connection, coffee service and other aspects one might think were included in the room rate. "It's just an add-on," she said.

One of the nicest amenities came courtesy of Mother Nature: the cool, sweet air of a night in the forest. We left our balcony door ajar overnight.

I gave the room more pluses for its six large, plush towels; the sliding barn-style bathroom doors; the brownies that appeared on the pillow in the evening; and the little box of needles, thread, fingernail file and shoe-polishing cloth. (I don't know whether I've ever used anything from those kits, but they're always fun to find.)

All the Prospector Inn's rooms are on the second floor. As one enters the inn, its restaurant, the Gas Lamp Grille, is to the left, the golf shop to the right. At the center is the Canary Lounge, where comfy chairs flank a gas fireplace and a stone chimney reaches toward the 35-foot-high ceiling.

In the Canary Lounge, we encountered Glenn and Doris Wolf, of Copley, Ohio, celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary with relatives and friends. Glenn Wolf, 87, pronounced the Prospector course "absolutely the finest I've played in my 35 years of playing golf." His son, Bill Wolf, a Spokane airline pilot, has purchased two Suncadia lots.

The group got an unexpected bonus, a chance to meet Arnold Palmer, making his first visit to the site.

Wolf, a retired tire salesman, said he intends to return and play the course again. And how did he shoot? "A 110," he said. "But my son and grandson were in the 80s."

Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or jbroom@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company


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