Pie-stained or not, the touch has been consistently white-glove. Designed by GGLO, an architecture and urban design firm in Seattle, the Allison is a collage of pastoral motifs, luxurious amenities, and functionality: its Montana bluestone façade rises on a south-facing hillside, and guests enter through an ornate porte cochere and swim in a palatial indoor pool—yet the roof is covered in photovoltaic panels. Joan has remained tight-lipped about the Allison’s price tag. (“It would be all people would talk about,” she says.) But on a recent tour, general manager Pierre Zreik, whose 25-year career in the hospitality industry stretches from the prestigious Lycee Technique Hotelier in Grenoble, France, to downtown Portland’s Heathman Hotel, points out every expensive detail, from the inn’s richly textured wallpapers to the property’s freshly planted mature copper pines, river birches, and dogwoods.
“Ken and I have stayed at some of the best hotels in the world, so we’ve picked up a lot along the way,” Joan says. “When [guests] arrive, I want them to feel like, ‘Hey, I can relax.’”
Joan has worked diligently to infuse the Allison with the valley’s terroir—quite literally, in many cases. The inn’s name, for instance, derives from Ira S. Allison, the Oregon State University geologist who traced the origins of the Willamette Valley’s exceptional soil back to the Missoula Floods that occurred some 15,000 years ago. The house restaurant, Jory, takes its name from the well-draining soil in which the valley’s grapes thrive. Other touches include a poolside painting by Oregon State University crop-science professor Jay Noller that’s partially rendered from soil gathered on-site. “We’re into dirt,” Joan says, laughing.
Indeed, Joan even worked with one of Oregon’s most respected winemakers, David Adelsheim, to set aside the property’s best land for four acres of vineyards. With three distinct soil types and three different vines, Adelsheim is aiming to make as many as nine distinct wines that will carry the Allison’s label.
Joan says she hasn’t considered her efforts within the context of the grand lineage of Oregon resorts, though she concedes that the Salishan’s legendary developer, John Gray, is a close friend who has routinely checked on the Allison’s progress. But as her son, Kenny, pops into her office brandishing a newly sanded cutting board made from scraps of wood from locally harvested trees, Joan beams. “Everything here,” she says, “comes from the heart.”