ILWACO — Marcene Miller stood in high heels and a knee-length red dress as she greeted guests at the door.
The formal attire replaced the paint-splattered shirts and drywall-dusted shoes she wore for months before as she labored to bring her luxury hotel into fruition.
An open house was held Monday, June 10 where dozens of community members turned out to tour the former bank and investment building turned nine-room boutique hotel and pub.
A soft opening is anticipated in the coming days for At The Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub, located at 203 Howerton Ave. along the Port of Ilwaco waterfront.
Hotel and pub
A nautical theme is intertwined throughout, from rooms named after fishing vessels to reclaimed lumber rafters from a former industrial building on the Astoria waterfront.
The 7,000-square foot three-story building, designed and built by architect Erik Fagerland in 2001, had the structure and ‘bones’ Miller had been searching for.
“All of the old wood and reclaimed lumber, just the structure of the building. I fell in love with it,” Miller said. The building was formerly home to ShoreBank Pacific and Craft3.
“The (bank) vault room was where the kitchen is,” Miller said.
Miller, who also owns the Subway restaurant — which Fagerland also designed — along Pacific Avenue in Long Beach, has relished her hands-on role in readying the space, particularly the preparation of the hotel side, which she hopes will be destination alongside the restaurant.
“I want my hotel to be an experience,” she said. “This is why I did this.”
Room rates will range from $250 to $350 per night, depending on the room and the season. Early introductory-rate discounts will be offered on Facebook.
“I tried to do something different here,” Miller said. “It’s kind of a risk. It’s more upper-scale.”
The pub will serve wine and local beer along with locally sourced seafood, soups, salads and small plates.
“They can come down and eat, have wine. Everything is here,” Miller said.
Among the dozens of community members that attended the open house on Monday, June 10 was Ilwaco Port Manager Guy Glenn Jr., who once had an office on the first floor where he worked as a credit analyst for ShoreBank Pacific. Glenn stood with Coho Charters & Motel owner Butch Smith and The Salt Hotel & Pub owner Julian Orr as they admired the transformation as well as historical photos of the port and surrounding area hanging on the hallway walls of the hotel.
“We’re excited to have the addition of the hotel and restaurant at the port as another amenity to our working waterfront,” Glenn said. “It’s going to be a great addition to the community.”
Smith, whose charter fishing business shares the Ilwaco waterfront with the new hotel and pub, praised the addition.
“I think it’s a great new asset and adds to the revitalization of the port,” Smith said. “They’ve done an ‘A-plus’ job and it’s absolutely beautiful.”
Ilwaco Mayor Gary Forner said the hotel and restaurant add an upper echelon to an array of accommodations currently offered in the town of fewer than 1,000 full-time residents.
“For the city it’s going to be a major draw for people coming here,” Forner said. “We now have rooms available price-wise that go from reasonable to upper class. I’m happy for the port and the city.”