By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,653)
Today was just another historic day in the 85-year-old life of the Grande Dame of Portland hotels. A red ribbon cutting ceremony marked the reopening of this landmark in the downtown arts district following a $50 million renovation and a name change from the Eastland Hotel to the Westin Portland Harborview Hotel. “It’s the best day of my life,” joked Bruce Wennerstrom, general manager, as he addressed a crowd of well-wishers in the Ballroom of the hotel.
But what made the reopening really historic was left to Gerald P. Chase, President & CEO, NewCastleHotels & Resorts to announce. “There used to be a no dog policy here. That has changed. We now welcome dogs,” Chase proclaimed to the amused crowd. Chase recalled the familiar story to some Portlanders of how, in 1946, former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt was visiting Portland. She planned to stay at the Eastland Hotel. When she arrived at the front desk, the clerk refused to honor her reservation because she had the late president’s beloved dog, Fala. She expected Fala to stay in her room. The hotel refused to honor that request and so the independent former first lady left the Eastland with Fala. Dogs have always ruled at Westin Hotels and now they will at the former Eastland Hotel, said Chase.
Chase credited the City of Portland as a city with many important attributes that make it a good place for a Westin Hotel to do business. It’s a great place to retire, enjoys a “foodie” reputation as well as wonderful neighborhoods, and the nearby Portland Museum of Art, among some of them Chase mentined.
“We’ve seen many owners over the years,” said Mayor Brennan. “I hope this is the last one we’ll see for another 85 years or more!”
editor’s note: mhn.com apologizes to others whose photos were taken, but not posted because they did not turn out well! You know who you are!