Conversion of Vineyard Inn to Red Lion expected to progress quickly

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The transition of Walla Walla Vineyard Inn to a Red Lion Inn & Suites won’t take long, said Doug Frasco, project manager for BHG Hotels.

Work at the motel property, 325 E. Main St., over the last year has prepared for the new direction that was officially announced Tuesday, he said.

“The reality is, I think mid-October to maybe the third week, we should be officially changed.”

Walla Walla Vineyard Inn has been owned by BHG Hotels of Wilsonville, Ore., since 2007. Frasco said BHG owner Buggsi Patel had always planned to refurbish the operation and rebrand it, but the plan was originally postponed because of the economy.

The motel gained dubious notoriety in 2011 when police discovered during a SWAT-team raid one of the largest meth lab operations in Walla Walla County.

Frasco said operators set out to transform the property in anticipation of shopping it to Red Lion Hotels Corp. and bring that brand into Walla Walla wine country. BHG has 23 hotel properties, including the Red Lion Hotel Portland Airport.

Guest rooms at the Walla Walla Vineyard Inn have been completely redone, right down to the ironing boards, Frasco said. Everything from the plumbing to deluxe pillowtop mattresses has been replaced. The rooms have new draperies (valances are on the way), bedding, triple sheeting, soaps and more. The amenities building has been converted to a breakfast room. Deck furniture has been replaced. There’s new flooring. The lobby has been redone, he said.

He said onsite General Manager Jeff Hermann has been instrumental in helping oversee the transition.

The Red Lion brand, Frasco said, will be a strong addition to the assortment of hotels and motels offered throughout the Valley. “I think it’s going to be a real growing brand,” he said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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