Sightseeing: Seattle, WA ~ Seaplane Ride

Sometimes it’s nice to get a different perspective on the city you’re visiting. It’s for that reason, that I chose to take a seaplane ride around Seattle. The concierge of my hotel, the Four Seasons (see post), arranged a city tour flight for me on Kenmore Air. Being February, the weather wasn’t ideal but it was good enough to still fly. Many of the tours get cancelled due to weather conditions, as did the flights right after mine.

I opted for the shorter city tour but you can arrange to tour or be dropped off at the San Juan Islands as well. The plane I was on held 5 passengers and the pilot comfortably. My only slight disappointment was that the tour was a recorded voice you listened to through headphones describing what you were seeing. It would have been nice to be able to interact with the pilot and ask questions along the way but it was still an informative and fun flight. Had it been the summer months, I would have gone to the San Juan Islands for the day (or a couple).

This was a fun and different excursion and a way to see the city from a different vantage point. Here are some images from my flight.

Click on the first image to open a slide show or any image to enlarge.

Sightseeing: Seattle, WA ~ Underground Tour

I had heard over the years that Seattle had an underground city that was still in existence and it was definitely something I wanted to see while I was in the area. I chose to take Bob Speidel’s Underground Tour. The brochure looked a little silly so I wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth it but I really found it very interesting and fascinating. The tour is very well organized and provides accurate historical facts presented with humor.

The guided walking tour is an easy walk around a few blocks of town. I do recommend wearing comfortable walking shoes as you will go up and down a few stairs, and have to walk on uneven ground and wood planking. I would not consider this tour handicap accessible.

It was fascinating to see the first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle still in existence below street level and there are just enough remnants around to spur your imagination of a by-gone era. Here is a sampling of what you will see.

While in Seattle, consider staying at the Four Seasons (post here)

Click on first image to start a slide show or any image to enlarge.

Sightseeing: Seattle, WA ~ Chihuly Garden and Glass

If you have not heard of the glass artist, Dale Chihuly, I’m sure you’ve probably seen some of his work without realizing it. I couldn’t even begin to list all the places his work is displayed around the world (see here) but one of his most visible displays is the ceiling installation in the lobby at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. It’s hard to capture the delicate and intricate design work and the vibrancy of the colors in a photograph. This is really something that needs to be seen in person. It’s also located at the Space Needle so you can hit two attractions at once.

Enjoy a tour of Dale Chihuly’s Garden and Glass Museum.

While in Seattle, consider staying at the Four Seasons (post here)

Click on first image to start a slide show or on any image to enlarge.

Four Seasons Seattle

I’m not quite sure what took me so long to visit the Seattle area considering California is so close but I’m so glad I finally made it there. Seattle is a vibrant city with a feel very similar to San Francisco. What finally lured me to the area was my curiosity to experience the Four Seasons hotel which has been getting a slew of accolades including being named by the Forbes Five Star Travel Guide as the only five-star hotel, not only in the Seattle area but in the state of Washington. Impressive.

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The Property

Built from the ground up in 2008, this contemporary high-rise building is located in downtown Seattle at the waterfront and only a block away from the famous Pike Place Market. This is quite a departure and change in style from their previous location at the historic Olympic Hotel a few blocks away.

I’m always impressed to see when a property incorporates the local flavor of an area into the design of the hotel. The Four Seasons has done this by utilizing local sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood and volcanic stone throughout the hotel. The hotel also showcases local artists work and serves fresh food purchased from the Pike Place Market.

The location of this property is ideally situated walking distance to restaurants, shopping and most of the major attractions in the area including the ferry terminals. The hotel reflects a sophisticated, urban chic feel, and yet as with all Four Seasons properties, has a relaxed and never stuffy atmosphere.

The Check-in Process

I have to say that I found the staff at this hotel extremely accommodating on every level. Even prior to my arrival, I had a pleasant experience in dealing with the sales staff and the concierge who arranged transportation from the airport.

Upon my arrival, the front desk staff made every effort possible to put me in the best room available, even offering to move me into another room category during my stay when an upgrade became available…and they lived up to their word.

DSC_9757-001As a fun, interactive gesture, the staff keeps a stuffed fish behind the counter and will playfully reenact the fish toss made famous by the Pike Place Fish Market for its young (and young at heart) guests.

From the cheerful greeting at the entrance, through the check-in process and to the bellman who thoroughly described all the amenities in the room and places to go, I found the check-in process extremely easy and enjoyable.

The Guest Rooms

Floors 1 through 10 house 147 hotel guest rooms and from the 10th floor up they are privately owned residential units…lucky them! The guest rooms are designed with a clean, simplistic elegance. Floor to ceiling glass windows offer extraordinary Elliott Bay or City views and give the room a really open feel. The room was extremely clean and the hotel in general still has that “new hotel” feel.

I stayed in the Deluxe Bay-View room with direct views of Elliott Bay with the snow-capped Olympic mountains as the backdrop. It was fun watching the ferries come in out of the bay. The waterfront is a little more industrial than I expected but it was still pretty view. I think the city view would probably be a nice option as well.

The room was spacious with a large bathroom including a deep soaking tub and a separate shower with a heavenly rain-shower head, not to mention some state-of-the-art design features such as a built-in TV installed behind the counter mirror. The bed was probably one of the most comfortable beds I’ve ever slept in with its feather mattress top and fluffy comforter.

DSC_0108-001The rooms offer a simple minibar but you gotta love a hotel that extends a “happy hour” minibar discount. And since it might, you know, rain in Seattle, there is a complimentary umbrella located in the room for your use during your stay and they are also offered at the front entrance.

My one disappointment was that there was not a coffee maker in the room. They do offer complimentary coffee at the spa level in the mornings, but when I’m on vacation I love to wake up and leisurely have a cup of coffee while lounging in the room without having to worry about immediately getting dressed to go get a cup of coffee. But my bad…because I should have realized staying at a Four Seasons, all I had to do was mention it in casual conversation and a coffee maker magically appeared in my room…this is the Four Seasons difference.

As promised, when an upgrade became available, I was lucky enough to experience the Corner Elliott Bay Suite which had a separate living room and the bedroom had floor to ceiling corner glass walls offering an incredible panoramic view of the Bay. The bathroom also offered a sweeping corner view which can be enjoyed while soaking in the tub. I saw several different room categories and I have to say that I think this was my favorite room because of the size and the corner windows which optimize the views.

The Spa

The hotel offers a 6,000 square foot full-service spa and is the only 4 Diamond rated spa in the state of Washington. The spa has a very serene and soothing decor with muted colors and glass tiles. The spa’s steam room and sauna are available complimentary to the hotel guests along with a 24 hour fitness room. There are 8 treatment rooms including a private room with a view, large tub and two massage tables for a couples retreat…rose pedals added on request. Day passes are sold to local residents and non-hotel guests.

The Four Seasons is the only hotel in Seattle with an outdoor infinity pool. In appropriate weather, Bar “84” ~ named for the year round temperature of the pool ~ offers libations and nibbles poolside.

Dining

ART is the property’s only on-site restaurant serving Urban Northwest cuisine influenced by the fresh market items procured at the Pike Place Market. The name ART was inspired by both the hotel’s collection and the Seattle Art Museum located across the street from the hotel. 24 hour room service is also available with a limited express 15 minute delivery menu for quick service…nice option. There is no lack of food here though, as just steps outside the hotel are numerous restaurants and all the offerings from the Market.

Unique to the Property

  • The hotel displays a vast collection of artwork throughout the property and offers a self-guided art tour ~ pick up the self-guided art brochure at the Front Desk.
  • Order a Lusty Lady cocktail at the Lounge.
  • Forgot your workout clothes? No problem, the hotel has workout clothes for your use.
  • Enjoy a Wine and Cheese Happy Hour; Market TV Trays…still hungry try the Midnight Happy Hour (some offerings are seasonal).
  • Steal a kiss ~ it is said that just outside the Four Seasons entrance, overlooking the water and ferris wheel is one of the most romantic places to kiss in the city.

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