I’m writing this blog from the illustrious Willows Lodge in Woodinville, Washington. We’re pretending we’re on vacation, even though we live only a few miles away. Our stay is complements of Microsoft as part of a morale event.

The Microsoft Learning team started off the afternoon at Willows Lodge. From there, we wandered through the Herbfarm gardens in search of clues to a trivia contest, such as “You’d never associate us with herbs, but, that’s what we’ve called by people who visit from the burbs.” The answer was Basil and Borage, the two potbellied pigs in the Herbfarm garden.

A short walk away were the wineries where we sampled wines and found answers to more trivia questions, such as “I once was a lady of the night with a squirrel posed on my lap. Now all my wrongs are right and my soul a blended Syrah.” The answer was Squirrel Tooth Alice Syrah at Dusted Valley Winery.

As the sun started to set, we set out for the Purple Café, next to the tasting room for Dusted Valley Winery. We enjoyed scrumptious appetizers along with a few bottles of wine. Around 6:00, Rich showed up and indulged in the remaining appetizers at Purple before we went to our room at Willows Lodge. I’d checked in earlier.

The Lodge is a five-star resort with everything you could want from a luxurious spa to “Northwest posh” rooms. Ours had a fireplace, sunken tub for two, huge shower, two queen sized beds with down comforter and pillows, and a collection of items you could purchase including:

  • Modest-sized bottles (375 ml) of Ketel One vodka and Bombay Sapphire gin along with a bottle of tonic water, jar of tipsy olives, and two cocktail glasses
  • Bottle of Columbia Winery Cabernet Sauvignon with two wine glasses
  • Basket butterscotch caramel popcorn; pretzel letters, M&Ms, spicy cocktail almonds, jar of cashews, honey toasted peanuts, envelopes of Bad Girl Grapefruit & Ginger, Chick Posse Citron, Gal Pals Cucumber & Lime, and Lavender bath salts, caramel apple trail mix, Jack’ snak crackers, shortbread cookies, and Frans chocolate bars
  • Refrigerator full of juices, four types of beer, three bottles of wine from local wineries, Red Bull, sodas, and bottled water
  • Kettle to heat water and French press to make coffee, using Starbuck coffee
  • Collection of teas, honey, raw sugar, and other sweeteners

Maybe because I’d helped plan the event, we had a room on the second floor with a balcony, overlooking the Sammamish River Trail, wineries along the Woodinville Redmond Highway, and the surrounding hills. In addition, in our room was a note from the Lodge along with a bottle of Pellegrino water, and gorgeous platter of cheese, dried fruit, nuts, and fresh grapes. What a nice surprise!

The room was decorated with Northwest colors – shades of green with touches of beige and brown – with ledges of roughly hewed wood, table made out of the slate from a bowling alley (I’d learned this fact when I was researching where to stay for the morale event), wooden blinds, woven wood “mini” wall that slide closed, separating the sunken tub in the bathroom from the bedroom, plush chairs, slate tiles in the entryway and bathroom, quartz bowl sink on a stone countertop, and funky glass lights with halogen bulbs.

Even though Rich dressed up and looked dapper in a dark blue oxford shirt with IBM embroidered on it, along with his snazzy black Converses, I didn’t want to go out to dinner after we’d dropped off our overnight bags in the room. I was tired from the day’s events and full from appetizers from Purple Café. We opted, therefore, to drive to Taco Bell for a quick and cheap bite-to-eat. Satiated, we happily retired to our room for the evening.

We had a glorious time at the Lodge and would enthusiastic recommend it to anyone who wants to get away for the day!