The FINCH hotel opens downtown


Afton Weaver

The FINCH hotel opening featured a live painting event featuring Whitman student artists

Louis Moench, News Reporter

Walla Walla’s newest hotel, The FINCH, opened on Thursday, Oct. 24, just in time for Family Weekend (Oct. 25-27) and Fall Wine Release Weekend (Nov. 1-3). The new hotel is located at 325 East Main Street, the former site of the Red Lion, a hotel that closed in January 2018.

The FINCH is an independent hotel managed by Columbia Hospitality, a Seattle-based hospitality firm, and primarily operated by General Manager Matt Skaletsky. The firm also manages a similarly named hotel called The LARK in Bozeman, Montana, as well as numerous golf courses, hotels, event spaces and other facilities.

Walla Walla was attractive to FINCH ownership and Columbia Hospitality due to its “vibrant, unique, and authentic community, full of tourism, culture and adventure,” Skaletsky said.

Afton Weaver

According to Ron Williams, executive director of Visit Walla Walla, Columbia Hospitality’s acquisition of property in Walla Walla is a significant development in the city’s growing appeal to tourists and developers. The FINCH boasts 80 rooms and custom informative artwork by regional artists. Many of its furnishings are sourced from the Northwest, and the hotel provides local tour guides who recommend activities to guests.

According to a 2018 article in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, the acquisition of the location by Columbia Hospitality is part of the ongoing “discovery of Walla Walla as a boutique destination” by tourists.

The location that The FINCH sits at “was prime for a fun and fresh renovation,” Skaletsky said.

Demolition and reconstruction lasted more than a year, according to the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. The demolished structures may have been more than 50 years old, according to the U-B, and previously had housed three other hotels.

Afton Weaver

The FINCH invited Whitman students to a live painting event at their open house, which occurred on Thursday, Oct. 24, from 4 to 7 p.m. The hotel asked sophomore Em Perry to help in inviting Whitman artists to the event. Perry, along with sophomore Rachel Glaser, painted scenes of the open house and the hotel itself in front of guests.

“Everyone loved seeing the pieces come to life,” Skaletsky said.

Skaletsky said they invited students to participate in their open house because of the importance of Whitman to the community and culture of Walla Walla. 

“We are really dedicated to connecting The FINCH with the Whitman College community,” Skaletsky said.

During the event, The FINCH also offered visitors a sale for Family Weekend and the fall release of wine in Walla Walla. Skaletsky said the hotel intends to continue to develop relationships with the Walla Walla community as well as offer specials that apply specifically to members of the Whitman community.

In addition to reaching out to Whitman students, Skaletsky said Sales Manager Heather Arns secured partnerships with Livit Coffee Co., who supplies their in-house coffee; Walla Walla Bread Company, who supplies their continental breakfast spread; Allegro Cyclery for biking elements and Visit Walla Walla and the Walla Walla Wine Alliance to attract tourists to the area.

Other hotel developments are also underway in Walla Walla, including the Penrose Hotel on Spokane Street, a hotel scheduled to open on Second Avenue and Main Street, and the Eritage Resort.