Dayton has new reason to hold tourists

Best Western’s new hotel nearly triples available lodging in the rural town.

Dayton's new Best Western nearly triples the city's number of motel rooms.

Dayton's new Best Western nearly triples the city's number of motel rooms.

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An interior shot of a room at Dayton's Best Western.

DAYTON — Dayton could be described as an accidental destination for tourists.

Chamber of Commerce Director Brad McMasters said that one year he met a couple who was planning to just drive through town. They ended up spending three nights because they loved the area so much.

The next year, he said, they were back for a planned vacation.

With a new Best Western hotel just completed and set to open its doors this weekend, McMasters is hoping the expanded room capacity will attract more such visitors to the area.

“More people are going to have the opportunity to stumble on Dayton,” he said.

After almost a year of construction the new hotel, which has 50 rooms, will host its first guests Saturday night. Hotel staff have been working overtime to get everything ready. Finishing touches of painting and construction were occurring at a rapid pace all week to finish preparing common areas.

Several wedding parties have already booked accommodations for weekends in late April and May, and with a pool, 24-hour business center and conference rooms available, hotel staff are optimistic that corporate groups will sign up to stay with them before too long.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to drive even more business to this community,” said operations manager Linsey Forni-Pullan.

A three-story national franchise hotel at the end of Main Street might seem out-of-character for a town dominated by small, locally-owned establishments, but McMasters said a lot of care that went into building the hotel to blend in with Dayton’s historic architecture.

“They were very thoughtful about how they approached building the hotel in our community,” he said. The design and sidewalks were done in consultation with the city, and decor throughout the hotel is meant to compliment the area’s attractions, with photos of farming and railroads.

And while Best Western’s name is on the sign out front, the hotel is owned by Duke Resorts principals Derek and Christina Duke, of Henderson, Nev., a couple with ties to Columbia County.

The hotel will nearly triple room capacity in town, adding to the 30 rooms currently available at the Weinhard Hotel and the Blue Mountain Motel. McMasters said the Best Western will fill a gap in Dayton’s existing accommodations by offering a mid-range option between the upscale Victorian-style hotel and the drive-up motel.

“We really did need something in the middle,” he said. The expanded capacity will also help Dayton accommodate tourists during special event weekends, when it’s not uncommon for every room in town to be full.

While the Weinhard is often full for special events, owner Shellie McLeod said typically about 65 percent of rooms are occupied during tourist season. She felt her business might suffer initially from having a new lodging option in town. But overall, she said she thinks the increased exposure to tourists would be good for business for her in the long run.

“Once people are walking around and find out what a friendly little community it is, they’re bound to come back,” she said.

Rachel Alexander can be reached at rachelalexander@wwub.com or 509-526-8363.

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