BEHIND THE HEADLANDS BRAND PROMISE
When founding partners Mary Jones and Jeff Schons first acquired the land for Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa they made a promise to themselves, the coastal community and Mother Nature Herself. They promised to create an experience worthy of this place—or not to do it at all. Following decades of planning and years in the making, Mary and Jeff’s vow blossomed into the construction of Headlands Lodge, a beautiful tribute to the breathtaking landscape and rugged coastline of Pacific City.
Mary and Jeff didn’t stop at creating a spectacular lodge. They knew that it’s what’s on the inside that counts—the people, the hospitality, and how guests experienced their stay on the Oregon coast. That’s how their guiding principle for Headlands “Hospitality, Oregon – Style” was created. Read our interview below with Mary and Jeff to learn more about their approach.
TELL US ABOUT THE MEANING BEHIND HOSPITALITY, OREGON-STYLE?
Mary: The meaning behind Hospitality, Oregon – Style is rooted in authenticity. It means a guest should expect authenticity from every member on our team. That really starts with our Director of Lodging, Jennifer Nelson, and the care she has for our guests and team. There is a genuine liking of people and you don’t always get that in the service industry. Our team members genuinely love the people they are serving.
The idea of authenticity and Headlands’ hospitality also means that hospitality can be done with a sense of adventure and warmth and a lack of rigidity. Guests should feel free to go to dinner in shorts and flip flops or in a tux. It’s about inclusiveness and our unique ability to make everyone feel welcome.
Jeff:To me it means giving the guest what they want, when they want it, the way they want it. It’s all about the guest, it’s not about us.
WHAT ISN’T HOSPITALITY, OREGON-STYLE?
Mary: We’re not pretentious, we’re not pandering to the guest. We don’t insist you to be escorted to your room and be told how a light switch works and then expect a tip.
Jeff: The example Mary provides means it’s all about us and what we want. That is opposite of what we are, it isn’t about us, it’s all about the guest.
WHAT INSPIRED THE PHRASE?
Mary: During a visionary day with a close friend of ours, Mary, she asked us what type of attitude we were going to have and what level of service we’d provide at the lodge. We went into a lengthy discussion about how we didn’t want it to be stuffy and have people handing out tips left and right. And we didn’t want our staff to be overbearing, but to communicate a sense of adventure. And our friend said to us “so you want to create Hospitality, Oregon Style” and we said we love that and we are going to use it.
WHAT SHOULD A GUEST EXPECT FROM HEADLANDS’ COMPARATIVE TO OTHER LUXURY PROPERTIES?
Jeff: We had many conversations how a guest should feel when they first arrive at the property and what our reception would look like–do we run out and take their bag and park their car, or do we want to be aware of what they want. I see our team members all the time being so tuned in and attentive to each specific guest need. We see our Adventure Coach Ryan run out to help someone unload their car because he can feel that that’s what the guest wants. It’s an elevated hospitality experience that feels so comfortable.
Mary: Our automatic doors are a great metaphor that helps set the tone for what guests should expect when they come to Headlands. The doors are a welcoming gesture that makes you feel at home and genuinely invited in. Plus, our Welcome Desk team members greet guests with an “I care about you” look that goes a long way to making them feel at home immediately. We have real-life happening right outside our door, some hotels try to limit that—the dory boats landing on the beach and the families having beach bonfires provide a lovely every-day feeling.
Jeff: We had lengthy discussion about the doors and what they should be. The original designer wanted to create these solid ornate wood entry doors. They seemed too imposing for me and not inviting enough for out for guests. We realized that if we went with solid wood doors our guests might feel shut out and not welcome in. So, we came up with the idea that we needed to create these enormous, big glass doors so that people would see the warmth of the lodge when they arrived, they could see the fire and feel welcomed by their automatic opening. It sets the stage for Hospitality, Oregon–Style.
WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND IS SOMETHING GUESTS MUST DO WHEN THEY VISIT?
Jeff: Get in the hot tub at sunset.
Mary: Go out in a dory boat — you can’t find many places in the world where you can do that. Get out on the river in a kayak, you can see so much because you’re traveling at such a slow pace, it’s so beautiful and peaceful.
Jeff: I’d do every adventure I could because that’s the real core of the experience.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE GUESTS WILL REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEIR STAY AT HEADLANDS?
Mary: The genuine, authentic hospitality from our people; an adventure they had never experienced before, such as a Dory Boat; and the fabulous views of the ocean, Cape Kiwanda, and Haystack Rock.
Jeff: I want them to remember Hospitality, Oregon – Style. I want them to drive away thinking that was wonderful, that was comfortable. What we are really trying to do is set the table so that when they return, they’ll feel at home when they walk through our doors. We want them to feel that they can’t help but want to come back, that it’s their wonderful home-away-from-home that gives them exactly what they want and what they need.