Narno Loza, maintenance worker and housekeeper for Auld Holland Inn, hangs out of a second-story window as he removes worn flower decorations to spruce the place up Monday morning. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

Auld Holland Inn whips up storm of restorations

After a recent windstorm tore one of Auld Holland Inn’s signature windmill blades from its mount, the hotel is working to restore its iconic structure.

“They were horrible winds,” said Jackie Huerta, innkeeper of Auld Holland Inn. “I mean, we were getting terrible, terrible winds.”

The May 23 windstorm raged through Oak Harbor with 50 mph winds from the southeast.

“The storm caught one of our windmill blades and it broke off,” Huerta said. “It was secured with cables so that it wasn’t going to go anywhere but to us.”

And toward the inn it went, shattering a window near some dining tables in the main lobby.

“It crashed right through here and scared the heck out of our front desk girl, but she called very calmly and said, ‘we have a little issue,’” Huerta said, gesturing to the now replaced window.

The family that owns the inn decided to take down all four blades from the structure for ascetic purposes, Huerta said.

“We decided to take them all off so that she didn’t look broken,” she said.

While the inn has commissioned the blades to be redesigned and restored, it has not relinquished a certain amount of quality control. For example, the Auld Holland maintenance team has input throughout the restoration process to ensure authenticity with the building’s design and history.

“This inn has always been the portal to Oak Harbor,” Huerta said. “It’s the first thing you really see with a Dutch theme. I just want the inn to be grand when people drive by and truly become a destination.”

In a way, the storm was the unofficial herald of changes to come at the Auld Holland Inn, which has been in business since 1970, ushering out the old and bringing in the new.

During the last few months, the business has updated its sheets, coverlets, pillows and website, Huerta said, and is going to be updating the wallpaper in some of the rooms, restoring the pool to full functionality and working on a new sign.

Moreover, maintenance workers like Narno Loza can often be seen sprucing up the inn’s exterior displays. Just this Monday, Loza was spotted hanging out a second-story window, removing worn flower decorations.

Beyond its storm of renovations, Huerta has her staff doubling down on gestures of hospitality. It isn’t unusual for guests to receive gift baskets or cards for anniversaries and birthdays.

“Really, our main objective is to make guests feel like family,” she said. “We want to know them. We want to know their names.”

Huerta describes the inn as a wonderful place with a lot of history, memories and love. She believes that with enough positivity and hard work, Auld Holland Inn can be reintroduced to “its grandeur — to what it can be.”

“All we’re doing is we’re bringing it back to life, and we’re doing it with enthusiasm and excitement — we don’t believe in negativity here,” Huerta said. “Even the windmill, when it came down, was a blessing, saying it was time to design a new one.”

Auld Holland Inn’s windmill blades were damaged in the May 23 windstorm that raged through Oak Harbor with 50 mph winds from the Southeast. The business is in the process of restoring the windmill to peak condition. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

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