New destination hotel may call downtown Winslow home

The founder of a Seattle-based fishing company is seeking to bring a 60-room luxury hotel to downtown Winslow.

Mike Burns is an island resident of more than 30 years who founded Blue North, a fishing, timber, agriculture, trading, and boat-building company for which he still serves as chairman. Now, Burns is looking to trade in his Sou’Wester for a bellboy cap as he proposes to build a hotel in downtown Winslow.

The hotel, Burns said, is planned for two parcels across the street from Winslow Green at 251 and 253 Winslow Way. When finished, the location would boast some 60 guest rooms, plus a spa, event spaces, underground parking, and a restaurant and bar.

Burns said he noticed the need for a hotel on the island when his daughter was planning her wedding and couldn’t find any nearby lodging for her guests. That’s when Burns decided to do something about the distinct lack of lodging in Winslow.

Teamed with renowned Bainbridge architects Jim Cutler and Bruce Anderson, Burns is taking the first steps toward becoming a hotelier and bringing the island it’s first destination hotel.

“It’s not a formula hotel,” Burns said, comparing big hotel chains like Best Western to fast-food chains like McDonalds.

His hotel, Burns said, would be something much different.

“I want it to be very specific to Bainbridge Island and that starts with hiring Bainbridge architects,” he said, adding that when the time comes, he hopes to hire a Bainbridge contractor to build the hotel, as well.

“We hope to have it be a very vibrant part of the community,” Burns said.

The proposed location of the hotel is conveniently located in the heart of Winslow, but it seems convenience comes at a cost. Burns said the location of the hotel will place a heavy emphasis on out-of-the-box design elements.

Burns and the project’s architects said they sought to incorporate design elements that would be heavily influenced by the historic mill buildings and shipbuilding facilities of the island. The architects also will be seeking to retain a large redwood tree on the property, which would serve as a focal point for many of the hotel’s features.

“We don’t have the typical amenities of dramatic water views and beaches and things like that, so we have to lean on Jim [Cutler] and ourselves to design this very special place,” Burns said.

“It would be a kind of destination hotel. That is, that you go there to have the experience of going there,” Cutler said. “We have to do something that’s going to fit to the place and reflects the nature and the history of this place.”

“If we do it right, it’s going to have a genuineness to it that is also going to attract people,” Cutler added.

“Needless to say, there is no other building on Bainbridge that will be anything like this building,” Burns added.

Cutler said that the project is still in the very early phases at the moment.

“We’re at the toe of a really big hill,” he said, citing a multitude of design work, market analysis and the lengthy regulatory process that comes with construction on the island.

In terms of the cost of the project, neither the architects nor Burns could yet say.

“The real answer is, we’re not far enough along in design to put a number to it,” Anderson said.

“We’re working with top-rate consultants to make sure that what we design and build is going to not only be beautiful, but also be economically viable,” Cutler said.

“We do know it’s going to be expensive,” Burns added.

“I’m good at spending people’s money,” Cutler joked.

Despite the high cost of construction, Burns put it plainly in illustrating his determination to build his hotel in Winslow.

“That doesn’t bother me,” he said.

Photo courtesy of Cutler Anderson Architects                                An early conceptual drawing depicting the exterior of Burns’ proposed hotel.

Photo courtesy of Cutler Anderson Architects An early conceptual drawing depicting the exterior of Burns’ proposed hotel.