As general manager of The Allison Inn and Spa in Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country, Pierre Zreik is in a unique position to both lead and observe the growth of culinary tourism in the Northwest. Having opened both Portland’s Heathman Hotel and Avalon Hotel & Spa, plus managed leading resorts and hotels in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Florida, and California, Pierre brings an international perspective to his Northwest hospitality roots.
Over the past 25 years, how has the development of our region’s food and wine resources influenced tourism and hospitality here?
When I first came to Portland 27 years ago, yes, there were places to go and things to do, but by and large, now is a great time to be experiencing all that Oregon has to offer in regards to tourism and hospitality. People love to travel, love good food and wine, and I believe that we have been able to stay on the forefront as a destination for those very things over the years by continuing to keep it simple.
We are passionate about utilizing our local resources, and that is attractive to those that visit. Additionally, with the increased exposure of our vast wine country that has grown exponentially from 75 wineries to nearly 400, it is no wonder why people keep coming back time and time again.
What will be the critical success factors and challenges for continued growth in our culinary tourism appeal?
Farm-to-table restaurants have been extremely popular the past few years, as well as “buying local.” Within that mindset, a challenge that we might face will be attracting the next generation of culinary talents to take the reins and lead us in the direction we need to go.