Nestled among the rolling vineyards of Newberg in Willamette Valley wine country lies the Allison Inn & Spa. To some, this 85-room, award-winning luxury resort may just be another place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring the more than 200 wineries of the Willamette Valley, but there’s a lot more that meets the eye here. Beneath the history and roots of the Allison Inn & Spa is an incredible Oregon dreamer story that deserves to be told.
This story begins with Ken and the late Joan Austin, who both grew up on family farms in Newberg. The two fell in love, married in 1953 and headed off to Corvallis, where Ken attended Oregon State University, prowled the sidelines as Benny Beaver for a few years and eventually graduated with a degree in engineering. After a decade of struggling to find their paths, the couple returned to Newberg in 1964 and started a small manufacturing company, where Ken invented a dental system that completely renovated how dentists do their job. From this invention came their company A-dec, which to this day is the largest dental equipment manufacturer in the world and the leading employer in Newberg.
Both Joan and Ken always felt a strong responsibility to give back and share their bounty with others. Today they are recognized as being hugely influential philanthropists and have donated millions of dollars to Oregon State University, drug and alcohol treatment centers, free dental care facilities and schools throughout Oregon.
So how does this all circle back to the Allison Inn & Spa? After helping to start a substance abuse treatment center on their property, Joan was bothered that family members of the people in the center came to Newberg to visit their loved ones but then never had a place to stay nearby. This is where her idea and dream of building a small, 25-room guesthouse came about. Years passed and the country inn was never built, but the idea arose again when wine-related tourism continued to rise in the area. Joan once again recognized that thousands of visitors were coming to the vineyards and wineries in the region, but hardly ever spent time in Newberg, largely which she thought was due to lack of lodging options. Finally she agreed to something much larger and grander, and the Allison Inn was born.
In 2009 the Allison Inn & Spa opened its doors and became the first luxury, eco-friendly destination resort in Oregon wine country. From the moment you walk in, guests are greeted to a beautifully built lodge made of wood and stone, with oversized windows and 360-views of the vineyards. A striking, glass-enclosed circular staircase connects all floors and leads to the state-of-the-art spa on the lower level. The restaurant JORY (named after the terroir) and Chef Sunny Jin have won numerous awards and boasts an 8,000-bottle Oregon-centric wine cellar. There are more than 500 unique pieces of art found in the Allison Inn (a member of the Austin family hand selects art from Pacific Northwest artists), as well as outdoor sculpture garden. Each spacious guest room is accompanied by beautiful pastoral views of the vineyard or landscaped hills, a gas fireplace, custom crafted furnishings, and luxurious robes and slippers to make you feel at home. Furry friends are welcome as well.
It’s safe to say that absolutely no details are left out at The Allison Inn, including the family-like hospitality which they pride themselves. The Inn has won several prominent awards from Forbes, Travel & Leisure, Trip Advisor, Fodors Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, and USA Today (to name a few), and is one of only two 5-star properties in Oregon.
Although Joan Austin will forever be greatly missed by her family, friends and local community, her dream and legacy live on each and every day at the Allison Inn. Ken continues to have numerous philanthropic projects and enjoys spending his time mentoring people.
Learn more about the Austins in Ken’s new book, American Dreamers.
Editor’s note: If you’re ready for a luxury getaway to wine country, check out the Allison Inn’s Cuvée Weekend package February 26-27. The weekend celebration entices Northwest wine and food lovers to escape the urban gray for nearby Oregon wine country to indulge in delicious tastings and intimate chardonnay wine paired dinners. Special guests include chef Sunny Jin of JORY, chef Vitaly Paley of Portland’s Paley’s Place and Imperial, and chef Holly Smith of Seattle’s Café Juanita.