What do The Ace Hotel, AirBnb, & The PNW Have in Common?
Despite being a relatively run down hotel formerly known as The Lion’s Inn, it wasn’t difficult for the creative ownership team to envision what The Heliotrope is today - a modern, boutique hotel just outside of downtown Bellingham. Learn more about what inspired the Heliotrope’s owners to reinvent this Pacific Northwest motel.
What Inspired The Heliotrope Hotel?
AirBnb has such a refreshing way of promoting communities and properties in a holistic and experiential way. These are the types of people we wanted to attract: young adventurers who tend to use AirBnb, the recreationally-inclined visiting Bellingham for Galbraith, The Chuckanuts, Mount Baker, Bellingham Bay, etc., and friends and families of those in the nearby neighborhoods. Accepting reservations via AirBnb is a way for us to set ourselves apart from the other hotels in Bellingham, and allow our guests to book through a platform they’re comfortable and familiar with.
Another major influencer behind The Heliotrope was owners Peter and Aimee Frazier’s experience of hosting three successful properties with AirBnb since 2013. Both of them put a lot of thought and care into their guests’ experience, and the Heliotrope is an extension of that.
Other Boutique Hotels
The mid century lines and architecture lent well to our initial vision of motor lodge meets The Ace Hotel (Seattle, WA; Portland, OR; Palm Springs, CA; etc.). We headed to the internet/social media for inspiration and made a list of boutique hotels to visit. We traveled to Portland, OR visiting and staying at various places along the way, including The Jupiter and Society Hotel. We learned a lot from these trips, especially how small details have a big impact; such as an easy and accessible place to charge your phone, simple amenities, helpful staff, “locals only” guides, etc.
Visiting other hotels validated the fact that creating a unique flavor works - hire the right staff, be original, and deliver a fresh design.
Sharing a great affinity for the landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, the partners all visioned bringing outside elements in, and this became a leading detail in all of the Heliotrope’s exterior and interior spaces.
The PNW Experience
The Heliotrope was inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s culture and natural places. A bit about the Heliotrope’s name: Heliotrope is a Greek word, meaning “turn toward the sun” - most rooms at the hotel are south-facing, bathing them in natural light. The mountain heliotrope is a Pacific Northwest native flower in the valerian family, which has been used for centuries to assist with sleep, relaxation and easing anxiety - all of which our hotel hopes to do! Heliotrope Ridge is a popular Whatcom hiking trail synonymous with adventure, taking hikers to the edge of the Coleman Glacier and climbers on to the summit of Mt. Baker. The Heliotrope Hotel offers a light-filled home base to rest and relax, and enthusiastically and knowledgeably supports visitors’ local excursions and explorations!
A Heliotrope goal is to offer a gateway to adventure in the Pacific Northwest. One way we do this is by partnering and promoting local businesses that can provide our guests with experiences they can’t find anywhere else. We welcome visitors with curated event packages (such as weddings), on-site concerts, an introduction to the brewery culture, and so much more. We want them to fully experience the beauty and possibilities of Bellingham and Whatcom County.
Renovating The Lion’s Inn meant transforming a pained property into an asset to the community. We also wanted to create a hospitality home-base that didn’t exist in Bellingham: a place where guests feel at home, and are introduced to the exciting elements of the community that we love. We work toward this goal every day.