Places & Spaces: Willows Inn, Lummi Island, Washington State

Willows Inn offers the freshest seafood imaginable…from right outside the door.

Organic dining from a chef trained at the world’s best restaurant: Willows Inn is sheer heaven for foodies. It’s also the antidote to the hustle and bustle of city life, where you’d expect to find such summa cum laude gastronomy. Culinary star-in-the-making Blaine Witzel (age 25) trained at Noma in Copenhagen, where Rene Rezdepi has taken on Ferran Adria’s mantle as today’s most garlanded restaurateur. Now Witzel (pictured below) wows the crowds at this idyllic slow food haven on a tiny island off the coast of Washington State.

The Pacific Northwest is famous for its fabulous shellfish, especially razor clams, but also crabs, oysters and scallops, and fish such as salmon and halibut. They don’t have far to travel to reach your plate. Local organic vegetables provide the supporting roles in Witzel’s starry menus – don’t be surprised to see beach-foraged seaweed make an appearance. “Fished, foraged and farmed,” as they say since many ingredients as possible come from the island itself, and the water around it.

The seven onsite guest rooms in this wood-built inn are a stylish mix of traditional and contemporary featuring organic bathroom goodies, free WIFI and some rooms even have radiant heating, for toasty toes. Two rooms in the detached guest house have their own private decks and bath tubs; you can also stay on the farm where much of the food served at the restaurant is produced, including the eggs, or in stunning beachfront houses and apartments around the island.

If you’re all gourmeted out, have a massage (in your room, if you prefer) or a hot stone treatment in the spa. Then roll down to the nearby beach or venture out into slow-paced Lummi Island, with its thriving community of artists and artisans and respect for the environment; the island is renowned for its sustainable fisheries and eco-farms.

The more adventurous (and die-hard foodies) can take a kayak out to visit the other San Juan islands, minding any Orca whales or seals en route, to forage for sea lettuce, Saragassum, and beach plantain.

Rates from $204 including tax and whale-watching from the comfort of your room; the kayaking is an extra activity.

Photos: Willows Inn, Celebrate Big, coffee&donuts

Places & Spaces is a travel guide that will inspire you to carve out a vacation on your calendar. All of the gorgeous locations and accommodations in our guide share our concern for the environment. From tent glamping to lavish built environments, fair warning, you’ll feel compelled to pack your suitcase.

Fiona Flores Watson

Fiona Flores Watson covers Places & Spaces for EcoSalon and currently resides in Seville, Spain.