Coeur d’Alene Resort reopens 34 years after it first opened in ’86

| May 3, 2020 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Thirty-four years ago, The Coeur d’Alene Resort opened to great fanfare.

Owners Duane Hagadone and Jerry Jaeger greeted guests and shook hands with everyone. There were tours. There was excitement and anticipation of great things to come.

“It was really a big deal,” said Bill Reagan, president of The Coeur d’Alene Resort. “It was a day that we were all very proud of.”

On that day in May 1986, Reagan was stationed in the suites and explained the unique features of each one.

While it was not the best of times economically for North Idaho, there was a sense this opening of the lakefront resort in downtown Coeur d’Alene was a sign that better times were ahead — signs of promise and hope.

“It really was the start of something big,” Reagan said. “It is so ironic that we did that 34 years ago today, and here we are opening again.”

Coeur d’Alene is today one of the country’s most beautiful cities and The Resort is rated among the very best. It’s a year-round destination.

Friday, The Coeur d’Alene Resort once again opened its doors after a month-long shutdown due to the coronavirus.

The first guests to check in hailed from Lewiston. Reagan said it was a wonderful moment. Seeing cars pulling up to the valet again, seeing people walking into the main lobby, was reason to smile — and even laugh.

“Probably one of the most important things, our fish,” Reagan said, looking toward the clear glass aquarium that’s home to many colorful koi.

“They need social engagement,” he said, smiling. “They haven’t been happy because people haven’t been walking up to visit with them, so they’re the ones that are probably the most excited about the guests coming back.”

For now, the rooms, room service, and The Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course are open. The Plaza Shops reopened Friday, too.

The staff is as delighted as the fish for The Resort to soon be bustling with people dining in restaurants, using the spa, the pool, the recreation center, and visiting the lounges.

“They can’t wait to start welcoming people back into The Resort. That’s what it’s really all about. We’re really here for the community and our staff. This is the pride and joy and we love to show it off.”

There are some changes to meet the coronavirus health challenges.

Personnel are wearing masks. The temperature of guests and employees is taken before being allowed to continue inside, and there’s extensive sanitizing and social distancing, per the CDC guidelines.

“We want to build confidence in both the employees and the guests that this is a very serious thing and their well-being is our No. 1 concern,” Reagan said.

Gov. Brad Little’s plan to reopen the state in stages started Friday, as retail shops opened their doors and churches can hold in-person services again, too. Restaurants, which include The Dockside and Beverly’s at The Resort, are targeted for a May 16 opening, and bars and lounges, like Whispers at The Resort, in mid-June.

“We’re finding out we can do this in a safe manner and begin re-engaging,” Reagan said.

When The Resort closed March 30, it employed more than 800 people. That number dropped to fewer than 200 as the stay-home order continued.

With 338 guest rooms, The Resort used the shutdown to do some deep cleaning, pressure washing, and drained and regrouted the pool. It kept its engineering staff busy on board.

“A lot of things we couldn’t do while the doors were open,” Reagan said.

“Everybody has been working very hard getting The Resort ready to reopen,” he added.

The government-ordered shutdown of many businesses and stay-home order for residents that devastated the economy has been the biggest challenge for Reagan and The Resort in two decades.

What helped stay the course, he said, was “the great staff and people that work here.”

“They’re so excited and they have so much pride in this facility,” Reagan said.

The reopening comes shortly before the summer traveling season, when The Resort employs more than 1,000. It is one of the first places locals like to bring their guests, to tour the boardwalk and see those people-friendly koi fish.

“We get a real deal of delight out of seeing that,” Reagan said. “That’s what gets us through this, looking forward to that day that everybody gets to come back and enjoy The Resort like they did.”

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BILL BULEY/Press Bill Reagan, president of The Coeur d'Alene Resort, and Sarah DeVeau, director of guest services, are ready to greet guests again as The Resort reopened on Friday.

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BILL BULEY/Press Bill Reagan, president of The Coeur d'Alene Resort, stands in front of The Resort on Friday after it reopened following a monthlong shutdown.