If all land developers followed Harriet Bullitt’s lead, the world would definitely be a different sort of place.
“I have a profound feeling that people who develop property in any kind of a big way ought to be living with it and looking at it every day,” Bullitt has said on her website video.
Bullitt practices what she preaches.
As the owner, board chairwoman and CEO of Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth, Bullitt has been happily living with her development from the very beginning. This forward-thinking entrepreneur and philanthropist was building green before building green was cool.
The Sleeping Lady Resort consists of 44 buildings, most of which adhere to green-building standards. It sits on a striking 67-acre campus at the foot of Icicle Canyon and at the edge of Icicle Creek. The resort’s mission is “to provide a year-round retreat where nature, performing arts, outdoor recreation and healthful dining inspire reverence for earth’s life-giving wellspring.”
The resort is protectively cradled in the arms of steep towering peaks of the Cascade Mountains — Icicle Ridge to the northwest, Wedge Mountain to the south and the granite spires standing guard over the treasures of the Upper Enchantment Lakes and Alpine Lakes Wilderness areas to the southwest. From the resort’s campus, the skyline of these peaks closely resemble a woman lying down — a sleeping lady.
The popular mountain resort has a Zen-like focus on living in harmony with the environment and appreciating the wonders of nature, with a strong emphasis on the performing arts. Bullitt has said that the environment, the arts and nature are essential to the mission of the resort and belong together.
The resort grounds have a rich history.
Native Americans occupied the area when white settlers began showing up in the late 19th century. Attracted by logging, farming, mining and railroad construction, settlers began building structures up and down the Wenatchee Valley.
In 1931, Bullitt was 6 years old when she began visiting Leavenworth with her mother. The family matriarch bought property near Leavenworth, built a house and had a small family farm. Harriet had her own horse and freely rode up and down the canyon.
In 1932, the site of the current resort was home to a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The CCC manpower built roads, ski lodges, bridges and trails in the area. After World War II, the property was used as a dude ranch before it was sold to the Catholic Church. Father Joseph O’Grady was assigned to manage the church camp.
O’Grady made friends with all the parents in the valley. Under his direction, the camp was teeming with kids who experienced a full life at camp. When O’Grady died, the camp deteriorated. A bishop later asked Bullitt to purchase the property, which she did.
When Bullitt purchased the property in 1991, there were 22 buildings on it, most remnants of the CCC era. All were saved and brought up to code, except one, which was ground up and used as mulch on the property. Bullitt then hired architect John Paul Jones to design the new buildings and the resort’s layout.
Today, the resort’s campus features an award-winning restaurant, two gift shops, a fitness room with free weights and stretching equipment, a play barn with a pool table and a ping pong table, a relaxing spa, an organic garden and a greenhouse.
It has nine meeting rooms with more than 10,000 square feet of conference space that can accommodate groups from 30 to 190 people. It also features WiFi access, a seasonal and year-round pool, a dry sauna, and six types of visitor rooms in six room clusters. In its peak summer season, the resort employs 90 people.
To attract a variety of guests, the resort offers a wide variety of get-away packages to accommodate indoor and outdoor interests. Some guests may want to spend their time at the spa or in a yoga class. Others may prefer the horseback riding package or even a hands-on cheese-making class. All packages include one night’s accommodations for two, a gourmet dinner and breakfast served buffet-style in the Kingfisher Restaurant, and full use of the resort’s amenities.
In 2013, the Sleeping Lady conducted a national search to find a new chef for its Kingfisher Restaurant and found a good fit in the mountains of West Virginia.
“Joshua Holmes wanted to move to the West Coast and was very interested in applying his passion for fresh, local foods,” said Lori Vandenbrink, director of sales and marketing. ”He’s been an amazing addition to our resort.”
The resort is also dog-friendly. Roki, an Icelandic shepard, is its resident “doggie ambassador.” Roki will make sure guests with dogs are well taken care of. The resort’s Canine Companion rooms offer doggie beds, food and water bowls, and complimentary doggie treats.
Two buildings dedicated to the performing arts — the Canyon Wren Recital Hall and the newest addition to the property, the Snowy Owl Theater — reside on property adjacent to the resort grounds and are operated by the resort’s sister company, the non-profit Icicle Creek Center for the Arts.
The buildings on the campus are spread apart and connected with walkways to encourage guests to walk outside to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
And that includes out-of-town guests as well as locals.
“Sleeping Lady offers something for everyone,” Vandenbrink said. “From a free self-guided art walk and summer organic garden tour to our affordable Thursday night and Saturday morning yoga classes. And O’Grady’s Pantry & Mercantile at the entrance to the property is a great place to refuel after enjoying the area’s many outdoor recreation activities.”
Locals may also use the Sleeping Lady for celebrating a special occasion or simply trying something new. The Kingfisher Restaurant and Wine Bar offers garden-fresh food in a relaxing creek-side setting.
“It’s the freshest cuisine in Chelan County,” Vandenbrink said. “It was growing in the garden earlier in the afternoon and is on your plate in the evening.”
When it comes to its impact on the environment, the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort puts a high priority on keeping it minimal.
“That’s how we’re different as a hotel,” Vandenbrink said. “Many hotels are huge drains on the environment — water, electricity, resources — and we work hard not to be. We’re really conscious about our environmental footprint.”
All landscaping on the campus is xeriscaping with native plants that require little additional water than what Mother Nature provides. The paved pathways between the buildings are cleaned with a street sweeper that uses no water. Geothermal energy is used in the resort’s guest room clusters, and water-conserving fixtures are used throughout the resort. Food waste is composted on-site and used to fertilize the organic garden, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to the resort’s restaurants.
In addition, electric vehicles are used by the maintenance staff, and the resort provides access to a Coulomb Tech CT2103 electric vehicle charging station — free to overnight guests and a minimum charge to other visitors.
From its efforts, the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort is one of 26 certified B Corporations in Washington. Around the world, there are 910 certified B Corporations within 29 countries spanning 60 industries. The B Corporation is a framework and certification for companies wishing to benefit society as well as their shareholders. They share one unifying goal — to change the world through business. B Corporation certification is earned after a business passes a test based on environmental, fiscal and social responsibilities.
“It’s a pretty rigorous assessment,” Vandenbrink said. “The B Corp is an amazing community of like-minded businesses to network with. It’s the right thing to do because it fits with who we are.”
The Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort has also earned other awards, including the Open Table 2013 Diners Choice Award, 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and the Washington Hotel Association’s 2013 Good Earthkeeping Award. It also has achieved the TripAdvisior GreenLeader Gold Level.
The resort initially focused on corporate conferences, Vandenbrink said. But when the economy weakened in the mid-2000s, resort management regrouped.
“Because of the stagnant economy, we remarketed ourselves and went after the leisure market,” she said. “Today we are 50 percent conferences and 50 percent leisure. We’ve had record years throughout this recession.”
The Sleeping Lady has big plans for the future. The building that formerly housed KOHO radio before it relocated to Wenatchee in 2013 is being converted to a day spa for the general public. O’Grady’s Pantry will be remodeled into a sit-down café with table service. The new spa, remodeled O’Grady’s and the mercantile will become its own little connective village, Vandenbrink said.
The savvy 89-year-young Bullitt already has a succession plan in place for the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort. A board of directors will manage the future affairs of the thriving and growing environmentally friendly enterprise.
But not just yet.
Bullitt is still going strong in her quest to make the Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort an inspiration to every guest. She said on her website, “I want people to leave here and feel as though they can go back to their own home and change their corner of the world.”