A Trip to reconnect with the outdoors
Two Diverse Ways to Experience Central Oregon
The popularity of Portland and Bend, Oregon cannot be disputed. These days, everywhere you turn there is a hot new restaurant popping up in Portland, with all the bell and whistles. According to a recent report, Bend is the 6th fastest growing town in the United States. With surging interest in these two places to visit and live, some other desirable tourism locations might be overlooked in the state.
Recently I decided to forgo the familiar and spend the Memorial Day holiday visiting Central Oregon, only I wasn’t heading to Bend. Sisters, Oregon derives its name from the three prominent Cascade peaks that grace the southwestern skyline, known as Three Sisters.
Sisters is a small town, with a western façade and ambiance, that is centrally located to Suttle Lake, Hoodoo Ski Area, and the McKenzie and Metolius Rivers. There is camping, fishing, mountain biking and hiking in the summer and skiing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing in winter.
Along the main road is FivePine Lodge, which is celebrating their 10-year anniversary this year. FivePine Lodge is a unique and elegant inn with the luxuries of a big resort, but the charm and personal touch of a bed and breakfast. We decided to stay here the first leg of our trip for 2 nights and were intrigued by the story of the hotel, which is family owned and operated. Bill and Zoe Willits built the property in 2007, with the dream of creating a place people from all over could find balance in life and reconnect with themselves.
The property hosts eight rooms inside the lodge, which is reminiscent of grand lodges of Vermont and Maine, with log and wood décor and high vaulted ceilings. Independent of the main building are 36 cabins which are nicely spaced to allow for privacy. The interior of the cabins are rustically decorated, if only on the surface. The rooms are specimens of luxury and elegance. Each cabin boasts huge bathrooms with a soaking tub, fireplace and Italian shower. Currently new units, known as Serenity Cabins, are being built to provide a romantic experience for couples looking for an oasis of relaxation and tranquility. At 680 square feet, the cabins are expected to be complete for booking by end of June.
The Shibui Spa was one of the highlights of my stay! Shibui, translated from Japanese, means simple, subtle, and unobtrusively beautiful...and they hit the mark! The spa has a soaking hot tub, sauna, and relaxation room areas sprinkled throughout. Upon passing the spa doors, there is a tranquil pond with a big Buddha that greets you. It felt as though I had entered a different world and serenity surrounded me. The most popular treatments are Lotus Dream Abhayanga Ayurvedic massage and Dance of the Desert. I opted for Dance of the Desert, a 90-minute body scrub, warming wrap, followed by an invigorating essential oil massage. I walked out feeling delightfully relaxed and balanced.
One of the great things about the Lodge is that situated right next door is Three Creeks Brewing, a brewpub offering a diverse menu of healthy food. The brewpub has a production plant about 5 minutes away which produces and distributes their beer to Oregon, Idaho and most parts of Washington State. During our stay, we had the chance to tour the Three Creeks production plant with Zach Beckwith, which was an experience in of itself! The brewery prides itself in working with local organizations whenever possible – all the spotless, stainless steel equipment was built in Oregon, a company from Portland bottles the beer, and personal relationships have been formed with the top local hops farms to ensure the highest quality ingredients.
Studies have shown that drinking beer in moderation can be beneficial to your health. Hops, one of beer’s main ingredients, have an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect which reduces the risk of diseases associated with aging. This active compound can help greatly in controlling arthritis and other diseases caused by excessive inflammation. The fiber and anti-inflammatory properties in beer make it a great digestive aid. Because it is a fermented liquid, it helps stimulate good bacteria for intestinal flora and also balances stomach pH.
Because the lodge has four pet friendly cabins, we were able to bring our 14 year old shih tzu along with us!
If the FivePine Lodge is an experience in elegance and luxury, then The Suttle Lodge in Deschutes National Forest is an experience in being closer to nature. We stopped for a one night stay at this perfect location within nature. The Lodge has eleven rooms and also various cabins spread throughout the 15.5 acre property, which recently came under new ownership in 2015. Rustic cabins are just that – with no kitchen or bathroom. There is a communal bathroom for those who want to rough it a bit more. The lakeside cabins sleep more, with bathrooms and a kitchens which are best for families.
Co-owner Donald Kenney said the great aspect about the lodge is being able to provide affordability for travelers from all spectrums. The highlight of the property is The Boathouse, which was built in the 1930s and used to dock boats. The structure was restored and acts as a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is created by Joshua McFadden of Ava Genes in Portland and uses locally sourced ingredients. The dishes are healthy, and stay true to the idea of rustic camping. I had a simple leaf salad which was simply delicious!
I was able to run around the lake, hike, and reconnect with the outdoors at The Suttle Lodge. The Lodge is dog friendly and appropriate for families with kids.
So this summer, whether you are looking for luxury and elegance or a more rustic, family-friendly experience, these two gems in Central Oregon might be worth a try!
Rates starting at $179
The Suttle Lodge & Boathouse