New Traditions

Sometimes the best things come from stressful events. My family learned that last year during the big “power outage 2008”. Last years power outage had us spending part of our December in one of Redmond’s hotels, and then discovering one of the best local traditions that we never knew about. This year, our family decided that our Redmond winter 2008 was so much fun that this year we should continue every aspect of that new tradition – but with a twist. We decided to try a new hotel every year. This year we checked into Redmond’s newest hotel, Hotel Sierra.

For those unfamiliar, Redmond has five great hotels that are consistently offering package promotions. No matter what time of year it is, you can find a great hotel promotion built around something perfect for you.

For our weekend at Hotel Sierra were pleased to discover that it is within an easy walk of Redmond Town Center. This was perfect as our weekend was centered on Redmond Lights, Redmond Town Center and holiday shopping.

Friday afternoon we checked into the Sierra, awed by its beauty and entranced by the promise of an indoor swim and a comforting whirlpool relaxation session later in the day. Knowing in advance that the rooms offered kitchenettes (swanky kitchenettes, at that!) we brought in snacks and cold drinks to revitalize ourselves during shopping excursions.

After dinner out at The Matador we headed back to the hotel to drop the kids off at Redmond Town Center for a movie, while hubby and I checked out the in-hotel bar and lounge. Our mellow night was rounded out by a nice long soak in the hotel’s whirlpool by the indoor pool.

After a delightful and filling continental breakfast (one of the Sierra’s perks), the family and I headed over to Redmond Town Center to kick off our holiday shopping. We all split up, promising to meet back at the Desert Fire restaurant for lunch. If you have not been to Redmond Town Center before, let me fill you in on this jewel in the Eastside’s crown. There are more shops here than you can possibly go through in one day. From chic house wares stores to cute boutique clothing shops and beyond, there were stores here that suited everyone on my shopping list (and even a few that suited…well, me). I could have easily shopped all day long, but knowing that Redmond Lights started at 3pm, I needed to get my loot back to the hotel and meet the family for lunch.

Desert Fire is a good choice for a local lunch. It’s consistently good food, great portions, helpful staff – and lucky for us, in Redmond Town Center. Knowing we didn’t want to stray too far from the action that was promised that afternoon, we were comfortably fed at lunch, and went back to the hotel to rest a while.

By 3pm, we were ready to get to Redmond Lights. Even though we’d been last year, we were still awed by the sheer number of people that turn out for this local event. There is an amazing amount of things to do, see and hear at Redmond Lights. From the local bands playing, the arts/crafts, to the carolers, the entire experience leaves you in amazing sprits. Although all of us in my family usually want to go different things at the same time, we can all agree on a few areas. For instance, the lighted walk along the Sammamish River trail is both relaxing and energizing, and something we love to do together as a family. The quiet solitude of the lights is beautifully offset by the uplifting spirit of the music. Moreover, if the beauty of the scenery doesn’t astound you the cool night air will. But even the cold is the perfect compliment to the event. It really feels like the beginning of the winter season.

As usual, we wrapped up our night with a big late dinner out at Pomegranate Bistro – a family favorite and headed back to the hotel for another dip in the pool and nightcap in the lounge. Once our Redmond weekend is over, we really feel like we can jump into the winter season – decorating, sending out holiday cards, and planning parties. But our weekend in Redmond will always be the beginning of our holiday season, and we owe this newfound tradition to a power outage.

It’s been almost a week since we stayed at the Sierra and enjoyed the music and memories of Redmond Lights together. And although I’m already starting to feel the stresses of this winter season lie heavily on my calendar, all I have to do is close my eyes and I can feel the whirpool at the hotel and see the luminaries of the river walk and remind myself that next years Redmond Lights is only 357 days away.