Shut down for nearly eight months, the Semiahmoo Resort re-opens Thursday - a boost to area businesses and hundreds of employees heading back to work.
“This is a landmark hotel for Whatcom County and the City of Blaine,” said Yogi Hutsen, CEO of Coast Hotels.
A partnership called The Resort Semiahmoo LLC, whose managing member is Wright Hotels, bought the property for $19.5 million in June. It closed back in December, leaving more than 200 people without jobs.
“Very rough, just to walk away and leave everything,” said Tammy Ellis, a housekeeper.
Ellis spent three years with the resort and was just hired back.
“We’ve been working every day since we got hired on and we love it,” she said.
New owners have spent more than $6 million in upgrades to the property’s exterior, rooms and fixtures. For weeks now, employees have been cleaning and sprucing up the property to once again welcome guests.
“Anytime you have a facility that large close it hurts everyone,” said Marv Adam, owner of The Pizza Factory.
Adam’s business has suffered a 20% loss in sales since the resort closed.
“It was devastating,” he said.
According to the City of Blaine, hotel guests would come into town and generate up to $150,000 in sales tax a year. The funds go towards city services like the police department and tourism efforts.
“They spend a weekend out there and they venture around and see what’s going on in the area,” said Adam.
Without that money, Blaine’s Visitor Center almost closed. Six volunteers stepped up to the staff it, keeping it open.
For Ellis, the resort’s re-opening is a second chance.
“When we all get paid it’s going to be like winning the lottery. That’s how good it’s going to feel,” she said.
The resort has booked 20 rooms for Thursday and 80 for this weekend. The new owners hope to have all renovations complete this fall and have a grand re-opening celebration next spring.