Letter | Dear Snoqualmie Residents

[Letter by Chloe Hou: Views expressed are those of the author, not the Living Snoqualmie website. You may submit letters to info@livingsnoqualmie.com]

Dear Snoqualmie resident,

This is Chloe, daughter of the owner of the Hampton Inn. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on our request to change the hotel name to “SNOQUALMIE INN” by Hotel America. I want to explain our reasons for this request, share our experience working with Hilton, and ask for your support for our request.

Before I begin, I’d like to offer some background about my family. While my father started a construction company in China when he was 17 years old, his greatest life-long passion has been education. Consequently, he has built and continues to operate an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, a college, and a university over the years. Many families in China cannot afford a good education.

My father understands that education is the greatest pathway to success. Therefore, he found ways to reduce or eliminate tuition for many families and students who could not afford the cost. Many of my classmates have spent their entire lives learning and then teaching and managing my father’s schools, resulting in more expansion, growth, and education investment. My family’s success has resulted from honoring our commitments to the people and communities we serve and treating all with honor and respect. My father and his schools are now highly respected in China.

Our family has taken this same approach to our investments in the United States. As many of you know, the general contractor for our Spring Plaza project walked away with millions of our dollars intended for our sub-contractors. We could have filed for bankruptcy and left the building unfinished for three years. But my family decided to sell other properties to make our subcontractors whole and to maintain your trust and respect. We have every intention to build a strong brand and reputation for years to come. We are just a family who wants to do the right thing, build our own high-quality brand, and honor this amazing community and our newly adopted country.

We can create a more special and unique boutique hotel. The Hilton franchise fees became a significant economic drag on the hotel when the contractor stole from us, and now during the Covid-19 emergency, we’ve gotten no relief. We can do more with the hotel outside of the franchise and without those heavy payments. Hilton does not require us to have a shuttle van. Hilton does not allow us to serve higher quality food or coffee. Hilton does not allow us to promote Snoqualmie attractions on our website. Hilton does not allow us to feature pictures of the Snoqualmie Falls, Mt. Si, Snoqualmie Valley history, or northwest Indian art throughout our hotel. And, Hilton does not determine what room rates we charge, which we intend to maintain.

Here are the things we can do to improve the hotel:

  1. Create a local boutique brand as was originally envisioned in the Snoqualmie Ridge neo-traditional and pedestrian-centric design. “Snoqualmie Inn” honors the uniqueness of our community, contrary to the “same as everywhere else, USA” big box and cookie-cutter brands and urban design.
  2. Offer a shuttle bus for our customers.
  3. Invest exorbitant franchise fees back into our local hotel and community.
  4. Offer higher quality and more diverse food and beverage options, working with local suppliers.
  5. Offer better quality coffee. I personally roast for Honor Coffee.  
  6. Legally commit to independent and quarterly quality control audits. Hilton only audits once a year. And our proposed audit measures provide a higher quality standard than Hilton’s.  
  7. Promote tourism in Snoqualmie consistent with long-held City Council goals. We can fully promote Snoqualmie attractions and events on our website and within the hotel featuring information and photos about such amazing assets as the Snoqualmie Falls, the Northwest Railway Museum, local restaurants and businesses, history, parks, trails, the YMCA, and the Sno-King Hockey arena. 
  8. Fully integrate the 8,000sf Spring Plaza building into hotel offerings and operations, better-serving business groups, conventions, celebrations, weddings, and reunions. A lack of full kitchen facilities will compel us to partner with local beverage and restaurant businesses for catering services.

Unlike every Hampton all over the world, we do not want to be a cookie-cutter hotel. We will create a high-quality local brand that promotes and celebrates this unique and special community. Snoqualmie is different from all other cities due to its spectacular natural environment. We wish to fully leverage this beauty to create a famous and well-regarded hotel known as “SNOQUALMIE INN” by Hotel America.

The City Council will take up our request at its December 14th meeting at 7 pm. The agenda can be found here. Please scroll down and click on AB20-116 to find extensive documentation and legal assurances related to our request. (Note: updates incorporating all references to SNOQUALMIE INN may still be pending.) We would greatly appreciate your support.

Thank you.  

Comments

  1. Stephen Kangas says

    Chloe, this sounds fantastic. I’m not a Snoqualmie city resident so can’t help you, but there are resident voters who you can reach on certain Facebook group pages and Nextdoor groups who are in a position to lobby their council representatives. Good luck!

    • Dear Stephen,
      Thank you so much for your support. Your support means so much to me and my family. I am sorry you are not in the area anymore, we sure could use more people like you who support what we are trying to do for this community.
      Happy Holidays!
      Chloe

  2. Robert (Bob) Baumann says

    These people sound like their hearts are in the right place. I’ve moved out of the Valley, but my heart still resides here. I hope the community will support them.

  3. Grahame R Ross says

    Chloe, being familiar with the ins and outs of hotel management, the protections afforded the community that the hotel would be maintained to a high standard thru the Hilton franchise agreement was my major concern. You have eliminated that concern by committing to an even more stringent QA (quality assurance) performed by outside auditors. Not sure I am able to join the upcoming Council meeting, but I believe your plan could lead to a much better hospitality product for the Ridge than that afforded by your Hampton franchise agreement. Good luck!

    • Dear Mr. Ross,
      Thank you so much for your comments and support. We are trying to do everything within our power to assure the residence of Snoqualmie that our hotel “Snoqualmie Inn” will maintain high standards from customer service to cleanliness of guest rooms. We are paying out of pocket to assure the community that we have hired a reputable 3rd party consultant out of Las Vegas that will perform 4 quarterly audits vs Hilton’s annual audit. We want to classify this hotel as a unique boutique hotel that can offer more than a Hampton by Hilton. Thank You again for your support.
      Happy Holidays!
      Warmest Regards,
      Chloe Hou

  4. Rachel Charbonneau says

    As a life long valley resident with 6 generations of history here I would fully support this! Thank you for this letter.

    • Dear Ms. Charbonneau,
      Thank you so much for your support. This means a great deal to me and my family. We are simply trying to offer this unique community and unique hotel that can offer more than a Hampton.
      Happy Holidays to you and your family.
      Chloe Hou

  5. Good on you and your family! I am in favor of everything your family has done and will do on this project. Wishing you the best!

  6. Aaron Hansen says

    Personally I prefer the known commodity of the Hilton (or other national) brand. I live in the valley and I’ve actually stayed at this hotel since it has opened. Being part of the Hilton family was a major part of my decision to stay there. As a frequent business traveler I value the Hilton loyalty program and feel like I know what I will get staying with a particular brand. I would be much less likely to stay at a random local hotel and I suspect you will lose a lot of potential business travel by dropping the Hilton association. If you want to become a boutique hotel maybe rebrand with Hilton as one of their boutique brands? And you have a true luxury, boutique hotel down the road at Salish Lodge that you will now be competing with. A new Hampton Inn seemed like a perfect fit for this location, it would be a shame to lose it.

    • Grahame R Ross says

      All good points, Mr. Hanson. I’m not privy to the deal cut with the current owners, but the reason you flag a property with a large international brand is for their reservation system, and Hilton is well paid for every guest they deliver. Business travel is down about 70% nationally, but every guest Hilton delivers to this Hampton just increases their costs. I think of it as Alaska has to fly a plane at a 5% load factor, rather than cancel a flight. Does the Hampton franchise agreement allow the owner to close two floors of the hotel, eliminate expensive amenities, etc?Appreciate I’m guessing on much of this, but I’ve been involved with a few franchised hospitality projects in my working years, so I may be wide of the mark with my comments. Hampton is something like 13th of the 17 Hilton brands as to the markets they serve, starting with luxury at the top, with Hampton’s market something like “upper midscale”. My point is, the owners are positioned to take this property up a few notches if they are willing to invest money once the market turns. Does that mean compete with the Salish property? That’s a great question, and certainly not one I’m qualified to answer, but it’s certainly not out of the question. The Snoqualmie Valley has a tremendous upside, in my humble opinion.

  7. No.

  8. Thomas Johnson says

    Chloe,
    Thanks for reaching out to the community. Please bring Honor coffee to the Inn! Snoqualmie deserves better than a cookie-cutter Hilton hotel.
    Thomas

    • Dear Mr. Johnson,
      Thank you for taking the time to reply back to my letter. This letter came straight from my heart. We want this hotel to be unique and without franchise fees, we want to be able to invest more into this community. I will be bringing Honor Coffee to the Inn 🙂
      Happy Holidays!
      Chloe Hou

  9. Leif Kirchoff says

    Seems like you should vote out a city counsel that feels they have the right to determine what a hotel is named or which chain it is affiliated with.

  10. What is Hotel America? That sign looks cheaper and tackier than the existing one.

  11. Jared Schibel says

    The Holiday Inn and Dollar Tree were both terrible additions to the Ridge. I may be overly skeptical, but I think the hotel abandoning the Holiday Inn franchise is probably just a cost-saving measure more than anything else. They’re not going to compete with the Lodge for high-end customers and they’re certainly feeling the COVID strain at this point. Getting out from under the franchise upkeep requirements seems like an obvious way to cut costs.

    • Dollar Tree (and other such stores with low prices such as Dollar General) are a necessary part of providing products for people on limited budgets. Not everyone can afford to buy an entire 24-roll case of toilet paper or a huge can of beans. People who are trying to be careful in their spending to be under budget appreciate these stores.
      Sure, it would be more economical in the long run to save up and buy the 24-roll case of toilet paper rather than a single roll, but if you’re on a tight budget you can’t save up the money for such a purchase.
      It’s better to save up and buy quality products. Expensive shoes usually last longer than cheap shoes. But if you have a limited budget and need shoes right now, you’ll have to go barefoot or buy the cheap shoes, and then have to buy cheap shoes again when they wear out.
      If dollar stores weren’t supplying a consumer need, they wouldn’t exist. That they do shows that the market will always find a way to meet the needs of consumers, whether we like those needs or those customers.

  12. Hi Chloe – this sounds really great, thank you for sharing. Is there a way to get in touch with you directly? I would be interested in more information on whether there is opportunity to feature/partner. I own a local wellness business / online boutique. Thank you!

  13. Eileen Fisher says

    Does anyone know the decision by the council this week?

  14. Kenneth M. Nero says

    Dear Chloe,
    Your letter suggests a reasonable argument, however I have a few questions.
    1) Did the City of Snoqualmie, COS, approve the hotel construction and operation based on the Hampton Inn brand?
    2) I assume the COS was aware of the contract term of twenty years were they?
    3) Are you certain that you can break the Hampton Inn contract?
    4) If you receive approval from COS and successfully break the contract what assurances can the COS expect that you will comply with your suggestions of improved, quality audits, improved food services, improved coffee, managed pricing, approved signage and advertising?
    Perhaps a 20 year contract with COS which formalizes your commitment will provide the necessary local assurances.
    I am also curious are you and your parents US citizens?
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Please let me know how this is resolved.

    • The Snoqualmie name is sacred. The falls are sacred. The valley is sacred. The back round of your family is not relevant in my opinion. I find it hard to believe that your family and/or enterprises were excluded from any covid relief. Lastly, Your brand is not Snoqualmie. Your family is not Snoqualmie. Your building was placed in Snoqualmie strategically. Now your changing the name strategically. The Snoqualmie name belongs to the land, the falls and its indigenous people, not Snoqualmie hair salon or any entity looking for a plan B to get out of franchisee obligations. Begin with the end in mind i.e. we are always Snoqualmie, we didn’t become snoqualmie when it was convenient to put on our lipstick and fancy dress for the charade.

  15. Strong ditto to Thomas W’s reply. Sorry, while your letter was eloquently written, I’ve become quite jaded to those who seem to have a good grasp on “spinning” things. Being articulate or a good speaker does not equate to being of good character. You keep referring to “giving back to the community” what exactly does that mean? I prefer SPECIFICS when presenting such an overly used (often by unscrupulous politicians so forgive me when I admit to wincing upon reading those words) ambiguous term. HOW exactly does offering a shuttle van or higher quality food options (which I’m sure will only result in higher fees) qualify as GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY?? No. Your words sound hollow and more than a little done deaf. Americans are hurting right now, on so many different levels. Forgive me if I don’t pat you on the back for your father building his legacy on building SCHOOLS IN CHINA.
    NOPE, This is a time that people need to hold onto their cultures, values and IDENTITIES and Snoqualmie does not belong to foreign investors looking to get even richer while trying to spin that they are doing all these things “FOR OUR COMMUNITY.”
    In my first sentence I gave a STRING DITTO and will now be closing with a STRONG NO.
    Frankly put. I don’t believe you.

  16. Here is an example of ‘giving back to the community’: $494 per night during June 2021 heat wave. Way to help the community and someone who might need a cool room.

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