Who knew there was a bit of Hawaiian heritage in Southwest Washington?
And leave it to the McMenamins geniuses to draw upon that history and channel it into a brand-new three-story, 30,000-square-foot hotel complete with a brewpub, scheduled for completion by February or March of 2018.
For the new transplants hanging around, McMenamins is Oregon's beloved family-owned business that has turned dozens of old historic buildings into resorts over the past few decades, dotting Oregon and Washington.
The newest property in development is their Kalama, Washington, project, which has been in the works for nearly 10 years, according to Renee Rank Ignacio, director of marketing for McMenamins.
On the Hawaiian heritage — many outlets and public relations materials have described the new project as "Hawaiian themed," but that doesn't necessarily mean visitors will be roaming around the site in hula skirts, draped with leis and being serenaded by men in Hawaiian shirts with ukuleles.
"It's not such a theme in that regard, but about inspiration," Ignacio says. "It's going to still have that feel of McMenamins, but we're bringing in the history of the location, the history of the people that were there before, and making that a part of the building and the business."
Since McMenamins likes to celebrate the history of places and buildings — many of their businesses are in buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places — this particular hotel, being built from the ground up, sought to draw upon local lore.
John Kalama was an early settler who came from Maui, the second largest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands.
"It just really made sense to us to tie it back to that Hawaiian culture because it tied back to the history, plus it's right there on the water (Columbia River), so in making the designs, that's where that inspiration came from," Ignacio says.
They're modeling it after the Pioneer Inn, currently a Best Western-owned location from the early 1900s in Maui. In addition to 40 hotel rooms, the building will hold a gift shop, restaurant, brewery and a rooftop brewpub with a view of the river.
The Hawaiian heritage also will be present in artwork on the walls, "and certainly some tiki-inspired or Hawaiian-inspired somewhere in the restaurants, but ... it's not going to be over the top," Ignacio says.
It might not be over the top, but the small town of Kalama overlooking the Columbia River could certainly serve as a quick getaway from Portland — it's less than an hour drive north.
Organizers are hoping it serves both the local community — Kalama has a population of a little more than 2,000 people — and as a destination for Portlanders and Seattleites.
But, it'll be a while until folks can enjoy the new location, which renderings show as a green building with an orange roof.
"The Port of Kalama is building the shell to the building, and then we'll be coming in to give it more of the aesthetics, the looks internally," Ignacio says.
Most recently, some of the electricity and plumbing were installed, with concrete poured earlier this month. Walls will go up in June, with exterior construction through October. After that, McMenamins will take over.
Their next big project is the Elks Lodge in Tacoma, Washington, which Ignacio says they're hoping to make an announcement about in coming months.