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Sleeping Lady Resort: Ahhhh, The Food; Ooooo, The Art; and Don’t Forget The GREEN

Story and photos by Lynn Rosen   December 1, 2009


Foodies and arties listen up! Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth, WA, has traditionally appealed to those wanting a remote regional recreational or retreat venue. Their fresh focus will knock the sox off the foodies and arties everywhere. Sleeping Lady Resort, world-known for its serene mountain location near trails, ski hills, rivers and lakes, has become a global standout for not only green building and practices, but also sustainable food and regional art.

Green. The politically correct color. Our food, our homes , our travels, our holidays. Everything we’re supposed to be doing. Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth, WA, has been green since it was just an idea in the mind of its owner, Harriet Bullit, years before it opened its green doors in 1995. This was way before green was the golden word in the resort lexicon.
If we can attach “green” to everything we do, then we’re cool. Fly green, eat green, build green, travel green, recycle green, live green. Wooo - then we’re all golden.

Believe it or not, ALL these green categories can be checked off at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort.
Sleeping Lady has a killer rep for its food. With the price of your room, all three meals are included in a common yet elegant dining room in the Kingfisher Lodge. All five-course meals are buffet style, a full-service bar is open for all meals and you are guaranteed to gain at least five pounds if not more during your visit.

  Sleeping Lady salad bar   Sleeping Lady salad bar   Sleeping Lady salad bar  
The salad bar at Kingfisher Lodge offers a breakfast, lunch and dinner feast of fresh and marinated vegetables, salads, lox, savouries, cheeses and pickled delectables. The main course buffet each night offers many side dishes and entrees, always fish and vegetarian options. The desert buffet is to die for.

Sleeping Lady’s newly expanded and enhanced Kingfisher Dining Lodge is legion in its reputation as the primo sustainable kitchen east of Seattle in the Cascade foothills. Chef Ken MacDonald, from Sydney, Australia, for the past year has been scouring the region in his pickup truck for local supplies and has found a virtual cornucopia of resources. We interviewed Ken one afternoon in the dining room as he was prepping for dinner. Here’s a flavour of the Aussie chef’s philosophy.
  Sleeping Lady Kingfisher Dining Room   Sleeping Lady Chef Ken MacDonald  
Kingfisher Dining Lodge (Sleeping Lady photo)
Chef Ken MacDonald (Sleeping Lady photo)

Q: What is your basic approach?

McD: Simple food, basic food. We deal with suppliers we trust. It's all basically local suppliers. From Puget Sound and from British Columbia. Or Hawaii. It's all sustainable, our own garden or local gardeners. We always have a vegetarian option on the buffet. And we experiment with other cuts of meat - not the tenderloin/expensive variety. It's better efficiency and budget and more sustainable.


Like grass-fed rib eye. We always use cheaper cuts. We can't afford tenderloin. No one would pay the price. A proper tenderloin would be about $60 a portion. We've got Sonoma duck, and black cod caught from Queen Charlote Islands. It was caught last night, flown down from Seattle and we got it this morning. You'll have it tonight for dinner.

We have chantrelles from BC. We use a lot of portobellas which are full of flavor. They are my favourite. We serve them at breakfast...simple food...We just try and do what we can, yeah? We're humble here, yeah?

Q: Do you do any catering in the area?

  Kid at laptop  

MacD: We don't have time.Everything is in house. Weddings, functions, but all in-house. We don't have the staff, the time, the equipment to do outside work.

Q: Do you cook for the deli? (O’Grady’s Pantry)

MacD: Yes, most of that is our food. You never stop. You just keep goinggoinggoing but...I like my quiet life here. I just bought a house in Cashmere with my wife and son. I DJ in Seattle as well at a club. I do a radio show here as well on KOHO (the in-house local NPR station). I do Soul music.

Youngster plays computer games in front of O’Grady’s Pantry’s cozy fireplace as her artist mom sells her paintings in the eclectic artistic gift shop next door. If you’re a shopper, don’t miss the fabulous long, slinky shawl/scarves in every color of the rainbow.
  Sleeping Lady Elvis statue   Sleeping Lady Icicyle   Sleeping Lady Icicle Broadcasting Newsroom Door  
Icicle Broadcasting Co., home of KOHO radio, 101.1 FM, local music and news station for Leavenworth and Central Washington, established by owner, Harriet Bullit.

“There is a human need for beauty - to see, hear, and feel what is already offered by nature. The only enhancement that humans can add is art.” Harriet Bullitt

Harriet Bullit, longtime owner of neighboring property across Icicle Creek, whose family owned Seattle’s KING broadcasting empire, bought this Catholic summer camp in 1991 to preserve the land and save it from developers. She had her own development in mind - that of an environmentally friendly conference facility and mountain retreat. Sleeping Lady, named after the adjacent moutain’s stunning profile, opened in 1995 with the first Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival.

  Sleeping Lady mountain profile   Sleeping Lady chairlift  

Sleeping Lady Mountain after which the resort is named.


Harriet, now 85, travels daily, with her dog, back and forth across the adjacent Icicle Creek by this private chair lift - affectionately called Harriet’s Chariot.
Chihuly’s Icicles    
    Cleaning Dale Chihuly's Icicle at Sleeping Lady Resort  

Cleaning Dale Chihuly's Icicle at Sleeping Lady Resort

Click on the photo to watch a video of cleaning the Icicle.

Chihuly’s Icicles sculpture, 1,060 individual hand blown pieces of glass resembling icicles, secured to a steel structure, stands nine feet tall. It is cleaned for the first time since its installation 13 years ago.
In the pouring rains of autumn, two skilled and resilient long-time employees of Denny Parks Fine Arts, a Seattle company contracted by Dale Chihuly, travels all around the world to clean art works installed out of doors subject to the elements. This early morning at Sleeping Lady, for the first time since Chihuly’s “Icicles” blown glass sculpture was installed in 1996, this fragile treasure is being cleaned. These two careful artisans are using water, static-free dusters and windex. This 9’ tall glass chandelier is Chihuly’s first permanent outdoor sculpture. Each glass icicle is secured to a steel armature attached to this huge boulder which is its platform.

Sleeping Lady Icicle icicles




Sleeping Lady Icicle icicles




Sleeping Lady Icicle icicles

Sleeping Lady Icicle icicles
Dozens of glass icicles cracked or broken due to wind and temperature extremes over the last 13 years
  Designed to withstand the winds and dramatic temperature changes of the Leavenworth seasons, over the course of the last 13 years, only a few dozen of the 1,060 glass pieces have cracked or broken. They will be returned to Chihuly’s studio, evaluated and either repaired or replaced.  
  Sleeping Lady Icicle  

Sleeping Lady Icicle

Now sparkling in the sunshine after a professional cleaning, Dale Chihuly’s Icicle sculpture makes a radiant statement of light from the forest.


  Seven Returning Salmon  
  Sleeping Lady Seven Returning Salmon   Sleeping Lady Seven Returning Salmon   Sleeping Lady Seven Returning Salmon  
Seven Returning Salmon carved in soapstone sits at the entrance to the Stone Chapel Theatre and lobby.
Fish and especially salmon are a recurring theme at Sleeping Lady, in both artistic and gustatorial terms. Seven Returning Salmon, carved from a single 1,200-pound piece of soapstone, was created by Oregon carver, Gene Drake. It took five years to complete and was not only the first of many pieces of the now-well-revered art collection at Sleeping Lady, but one of the many made especially for its own particular location - in this case - the Salmon Gallery of the magnificent Stone Chapel Theater building. The theater’s spacious lobby with floor to ceiling windows, large fireplace and grand piano is a splendid spot for social gatherings. The theater has a scheduled concert series throughout the summer months.
  Soul Salmon  
  Sleeping Lady Soul Salmon   Sleeping Lady Soul Salmon   Sleeping Lady Soul Salmon  
A series of mixed-media sculptures decorated by a variety of artists was installed along the Icicle Creek banks below the Kingfisher Lodge in 2001 to support habitat restoration efforts. These salmon were originally part of a Seattle public arts event which Sleeping Lady owner Harriet Bullit bought and brought to this location.
  Tony Angell’s Emissaries  
  Sleeping Lady Ravens   Sleeping Lady Ravens   Sleeping Lady Ravens   Sleeping Lady Ravens  
Pacific Northwest artist Tony Angell’s one ton cast bronze sculpture of "The Ravens” is the newest addition to Sleeping Lady’s collection. "This piece was conceived as a collective impression of Ravens in wilderness....Here at Sleeping Lady, we can share an increasingly rare portion of the wild and make discoveries in the company of Ravens." This sculpture stands at the entrance to the resort as a welcoming symbol of strength and wisdom.

This is just a sampling of the art collection on the Sleeping Lady property. Self-guided art walk maps are available at guest services.

Sleeping Lady Resort has recently undergone a half million dollar renovation just in time for a companion renovation in Amtraks’ Leavenworth schedule. Yes! Amtrak now stops in Leavenworth. You can travel from Seattle or Bellingham or Vancouver to Everett, change trains and arrive in Leavenworth. Check their website for schedules. See below for details.

  Sleeping Lady Grotto   Sleeping Lady hot tub   Sleeping Lady bartender Ken Ruprecht  
Don’t miss a visit to the Grotto, the under-advertised bar centrally located on the way to the pool and hot tub. Have a chat with the bartender, Ken Ruprecht, the Irish Gypsy, on your way to the hot tub. If the bar isn’t busy, you’ll be in for a treat ‘cause Ken has some cool stories to share. The Grotto is the social gathering spot to be at Sleeping Lady around a rocky fireplace  to relax over wine, beer and spirits. Be sure to pay a visit.

Provisos: Bring a good flashlight. Walking from place to place – especially from the dining room to your room after dinner – can be a bit treacherous along what are charming and natural pathways in daylight, but can be confusing and tricky after dark. Keep your property maps handy and your flashlights bright. You’ll figure out your paths after a day or so, but  keep those flashlights handy.

Also, if you need to stay in touch via wi-fi, it might be best to book a room close to the office where wi-fi central is located. The Cottonwood Cluster is the closest. The Meadowood Cluster is close as well. Ask when you make reservations. The Fountain Cluster is the most remote with intermittent service. Cell phone service can be dicey as well depending on your provider. The parking lot is a good bet for cel phone connectivity.

To make your travel planning simpler and more efficient, check out Sleeping Lady's website packages. You'll find a dozen or so deals including holiday visits, a "Ride the Rails" (Amtrak) weekend, a spa/ski combo, even a sleigh ride adventure. The Christmas lighting Festival in Leavenworth is always a huge hit.


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