Business

Innkeeper's Corner: Construction keeps innkeepers busy

This past winter, with all of the building going on in town, tourism has taken a back seat to the retail industry and the military. It’s nice to know we now have more than one option. Our Oak Harbor motels have been busy making room for all of the Home Depot workers and merchandising companies, as well as construction people helping the locally owned Marketplace Grocery Store finish their move and re-model for their new location near K-Mart. Now we await those who will build Applebee’s and AutoZone. I wonder if I can get a good deal on a new engine for my truck.

I was also wondering if I was the only one who missed the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival this year. It just didn’t seem like tulip time. We couldn’t even get enough tulips to sell for Holland Happening. I went out for a drive looking for some colorful displays and all I found were dead daffodils and chopped down tulip stalks; green in color though. Maybe the tulips were trampled under foot by some of the Whidbey Island Marathon runners who veered off the course in search of a latte or triple shot mocha. The annual marathon race was held April 10 this year. Runners were in attendance from all over the globe, but our very own Matthew Simms, a native of Langley, carried the day. Everyone of the out-of-town runners I spoke to think this is the best course to run on, not only in Washington State, but maybe even in the country. Nowhere else can they see pristine waters (or perhaps even a whale once in a while), snow capped mountains, livestock basking in their pastures and fields of bumper crops during a single run. It almost makes me want to take up marathon running. But, on second thought, I don’t want to miss those tulips next year.

Speaking of tulip time and Holland Happening; could the weather have been any better for our annual tribute to our Dutch forefathers this year? It was another great event sponsored by the Greater Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. From what I hear, it was far better attended than last year, with more out-of-town guests than in previous years. Who said we need to worry about gas prices? See what happens when you just keep trying? Even most of the Harborside merchants were pleased by all the foot traffic, even if we did make our local townsfolk get out of their cars and walk. Maybe I should take up marathon walking instead?

And now … Ahhh! Yes, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief in regards to the BRAC commission list. It looks as if NAS Whidbey Island will remain safe. I think we all owe a big round of applause to the Oak Harbor BRAC Committee for their hard and dedicated work in telling the Whidbey Island story to those folks in Washington, D.C. whose decision it was to keep our base. The Navy and their civilian contractor counterparts must have known we weren’t going anywhere; they’ve also been helping out with our local lodging establishments by staying in ever increasing numbers. There are lots of upgrades going on, on base. Maybe they’re getting ready to Growl instead of just Prowl. The Electronic Warfare Symposium was held at NAS Whidbey the week of May 16. There was a record number of attendees this year from Northrop-Grumman and other military contractors like Lockheed and Boeing. Maybe everyone wanted to be in on the good news about our Naval Base Survivor Story. Did I say good news, I meant GREAT!

Randy Brandford’s column is scheduled to appear the second Saturday of each month in the Whidbey News-Times. As general manager of the Coachman Inn in Oak Harbor, he will focus on issues and events related to tourism.

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