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Domaíne Madeleíne

An enticing getaway

Domaíne Madeleíne, a B & B in Port Angeles, is a little like the story of the three bears: too little? too much? Sometimes B & Bs don't seem to hit on all the important details, sometimes they are too in-your-face. This one covers the bases without a lot of fuss. Just right.

There's a feeling of slipping away as you drive to the end of the road, stopping in front of a deer gate with a large 'Domaíne Madeleíne' sign. Press the button and the gate slowly swings open. Inside it's lush with trees and plants, with cottages tucked away on either side of the main building, which holds three suites, a common area, the kitchen and two dining rooms. All accommodations include a patio or deck and, except for one cottage, a sea view. All have been renovated, although owners and managers believe in continuous improvement, so change will continue. Green lawn rolls out to the bluff's edge overlooking the Salish Sea (Strait of Juan de Fuca).

Suites range from 240 to 630 square feet; all have fireplaces, some gas, some woodburning, and one electric. Bathrooms are all different, and updated with either jetted tub (who doesn't love a deep, jetted tub with a view?), steam shower, walk-in skylight shower, etc. Two suites have interior entries, the rest are private.

The property encompasses ten acres and includes a greenhouse; farm with apple, pear, and plum trees; five types of blueberries so they can be enjoyed from May-November; fig and nut trees ("an experiment that results in nuts growing and squirrels taking them and us not having nuts"). There's a flower garden and chickens providing organic eggs.

Jamie and Jeri Weinhold are owners, and Stephen Fofanoff (left)and Chris Warnock (right) managers of a property that's been around awhile. The main building was built in 1946 by an architect as his private home. In the 80s, a Texas rancher who found oil on his ranch, sold it, and bought this as a second home. They redid the house in Northwest style. John and Madeleíne Chambers purchased it in 1991 and turned it into the first Euro-style B & B in the area, adding fireplaces and tubs. They sold Domaíne Madeleíne to Jamie and Jeri (previous guests) in 1998. Jeri moved from Chicago to be here full-time and run the property. When she decided to retire in 2013, they began looking for new managers.

Chris is an artist and Stephen worked for a photo company. Tired of LA, they moved to Oregon. Then his company offered him a job in Waikiki. But Waikiki is a big city, too, and they wanted to return to the Northwest. A friend of a friend put them in touch with Jeri and it was a fit. They arrived in 2014. Listening to their guests gives them a good idea of what people want. An example is the replacement of old TVs and VCRs with flat screen TVs. Great idea, but they noticed that people weren't using them, they were watching their own entertainment on laptops and phones. They were the among the first small inns in the United States to add Chromecast in every room so guests can use their phones to control the TV in their room.

They also decoupled "bed" from "breakfast;" breakfast is not included in the standard lodging price. This allows the inn to offer lower rates and more flexibility for guests. Over 11 different breakfast options are available including a four-course served meal in the dining room at 9 a.m., or a boxed breakfast placed in room refrigerators. Or breakfast can be skipped entirely. "Guests often don't want to be on a schedule," explains Stephen. "So they can order what they want and have it delivered or served, or just head out for the day. We've also introduced some other snack and picnic options that guests' often request. People can order snacks and we'll put those in their fridge as well. We're a B & B for the modern traveler."

Main building

We want to ensure that people know what they're getting up front," says Chris. "We tell them where their cottages are, what their view is, and show that in photos on the website. We offer flexible check-in times and are happy to text with guests ahead of their arrival. They have information on activities, restaurants, etc., and can work off that or talk with us. We live on the property and are always available if guests want to chat but are happy to leave them alone if that's what they prefer."

When they arrived, the French focus was still in place: French cottage and suite names, tiny French perfume bottles in bathrooms. In 2014, they started a property-wide renovation that was completed in 2018. They focused on clean lines and sustainability. The property has its own well and water treatment plant, and they are closing in on being 100% solar once the final phase is complete. They're putting utilities underground. Teas are organic and free-trade, and they've switched from Keurig pods to compostable pods, and glass bottles of water from plastic.

When Olympic National Park had its 100th anniversary in 2016, they renamed rooms after popular spots in the park: Hurricane Ridge Suite, Rialto Beach Cottage. And each room features a mural and touches celebrating that spot. "We get a lot of first-time B&B guests looking for something unique," says Chris. They are a pet-free property, and not equipped for small children.

Hurricane Ridge suite, courtesy of Domaine Madeleíne

Since not all the 10 acres is being used now, they are planning long term for sustainable additions to the property. And they want people to know that the area is a wonderful place year-round, with cross country/back country skiing in winter (the Olympic National Park is the last national park in the United States to have a ski area on park grounds). "The rain forest is at its most luscious in spring and fall," says Chris. And summer? Of course. But it's a good idea to book ahead, especially if you want a specific room: they turn away 8-10 people a day all summer long.

Domaíne Madeleíne
146 Wildflower Lane
Port Angeles, WA 98362

Connie Adams/July 2018

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