By MEGHAN O'DEA @themeghanodea
Look up and down the street outside the Hood River Hotel and you'd think you were on the set of a midcentury period piece like The Sandlot or a Pacific Northwest detour of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The picturesque brick storefronts are just a couple blocks from the Hood River Waterfront Park, and beyond that, on the Washington side, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Occasionally, a vintage train rolls by, fresh from a special Fruit Blossom tour or murder mystery dinner run.
Beyond that Reefer Madness-era façade, however, the Hood River Hotel has a very modern offering that speaks to Oregon's progressive attitude toward cannabis.
Inspired by the success of similar add-ons at the hotel's sister properties, the Jupiter Hotel and Jupiter Next, the Tokin Around the Gorge package includes a $50 gift certificate to nearby Gorge Greenery, rolling papers, a stash bag, lighter, a hemp wick chillum one-hitter and a bonus 10 percent off in-store purchase.
That's just about everything you need for a mellow time while you explore the area's trails, vineyards and eateries, with one exception—actual weed. Public clean air laws prohibit guests from actually tokin' on hotel property.
But according to general manager Jeremy Duncan, the lack of cannabis and a place to legally smoke hasn't deterred guests who seek out Hood River Hotel specifically for its green-friendly approach.
"During the summer peak season we have guests from all over the country and internationally who may not have booked because of our package, but add it to their reservation on arrival," says Duncan. By and large, guests who opt for it "are blown away how awesome it is, and how frustrating it is that their state hasn't approved recreational [cannabis]."
The hope is that as public consumption laws evolve, so can offerings by the hospitality industry. Right now, those laws hamper the incorporation of cannabis into hotel-hosted events like, say, a wedding with a bud bar or a dab-powered retirement party. For now, the Hood River Hotel serves as a venue for cannabis-industry meetings and events, just like any other corporate retreat, offering a vision of what the next phase of cannabis tourism might look like.
"Ultimately, at this point, we want the best experience for our guests within the sandbox we can play in," says Duncan. "With federal prohibition and current consumption laws it will be difficult to fully promote and take advantage of what we have to offer, but once that obstacle is gone, the opportunities are endless."
Today you can get your goodie bag and stock up on treats from the closest dispensary before, say, a big hike or relaxing by the fire. A few years down the road, cannabis offerings could mirror those already available with Hood River Hotel partners like pFriem Family Brewers, which gifts guests a complimentary beer upon check-in.
"With the incredible natural resources we have and the growth in culinary, beer, wine and cider," says Duncan, "being able to partner with these industries will make cannabis tourism in the Gorge the premier destination not only in Oregon but the U.S."