Updated September 10, 2022
Written by: Ashley Lodato
Brought to you by the Twisp Chamber of Commerce
As the founder of the temporary pop-up costume store Spirit Halloween, Joe Marver traveled frequently, staying in hotels all over the world. So when he began designing Twisp River Suites, located on the banks of the Twisp River (one block from downtown Twisp), he knew exactly what he didn’t want to include. “No wall-to-wall carpeting,” he says, “No hideabeds, no cloth furniture.”
What did he want? “I wanted to make it like home,” Marver says. “Comfortable, convenient, clean.” To this end, the Suites include stylish leather and faux-leather furniture, amenities like washer/dryer units, full or mini-kitchens, gas fireplaces, screened porches, and ADA facilities, as well as paintings and photographs by local artists. The two-story building even feature’s the fastest (and only) elevator in Twisp.
A suite at the hotel is indeed like home: that clean, elegant, relaxing home you always imagined for yourself, but which time, children, and/or your own essential clutter can prevent you from achieving. While your real home seems to constantly call out to you to fix this or organize that, the Suites beckon with a welcoming “Bring your book and sit on the porch.”
It was precisely this carefree atmosphere that Marver was interested in cultivating in his hotel. “For me,” he says, “Twisp is a place to unwind, to be together with family and friends.” The Suites nurture this lifestyle for guests, who can choose to explore Twisp or simply lie in a hammock by the river, listening to the water’s burble.
Marver discovered Twisp years ago when visiting friends and extended family. Like so many others, he was hooked. “This valley grabs you,” he says. “There’s no way out.” As Marver sat in the beer garden of the Twisp River Pub looking at the vacant lot upriver, his entrepreneurial mind started churning. Wouldn’t the property next to the pub be an excellent location for a hotel? Riverside, with walking distance to all of Twisp’s hotspots, restaurants, galleries, shops and community spaces?
Sharing his vision with others, Marver was met with little enthusiasm. “It’s way too loud,” people told him, referring to the proposed hotel’s proximity to the bar and its weekend live music programs. Marver obtained permission from the empty lot owner to pitch a tent on the property and camp out for a while. “The noise was deafening,” he says.
But Marver was talking about the river, tumbling and splashing on its way to the nearby confluence with the Methow River. For Marver, that was the right kind of noise. “Let’s do it,” he said, and bought the property.
After a year in design and another in construction, Twisp River Suites opened in June of 2012. The hotel enjoys a brisk business in first-time guests as well as an increasingly loyal cadre of repeat customers. “They like our hospitality,” says Marver. “The breakfast buffet has homemade quiches, fresh fruits, our famous scones. People like that they can walk to a restaurant for dinner or BBQ on their deckside grills.” Marver says that many guests order take-out from nearby restaurants and bring the food back to eat the in the tranquil privacy of their own screened porches.
Raised in Minnesota, Marver is familiar with cold winters and the accommodations necessary to make them tolerable. Each suite in the hotel is entered through a mudroom, complete with benches, shoe-horns and boot-horns, and plenty of coat hooks. Bathroom floors are heated; some mudrooms include boot dryers. Marver describes a sub-zero night last winter when he set up heaters on the Suites’ deck. “People bundled up and gathered around the heaters to enjoy the night,” he says. “Pretty soon I saw jackets being unzipped, then being removed. Next thing I know, the guests are coming inside to ask me to turn down the heaters.”
Marver is as tuned in to guests’ desires as any hotelier you’ll ever encounter, with a seemingly innate sense of what makes customers feel special. When you first check in to the hotel, a staff member walks you to your suite and unlocks the door for you. Marver himself is almost always present at some point during a guest’s visit, greeting and chatting in a genuine manner (“I enjoy people a lot,” he says). Customers flock to Trip Advisor to leave positive comments about their experience at the Suites, all of them punctuated by adjectives like “welcoming,” “friendly,” “delicious,” “fabulous,” and “gorgeous.”
It’s this sort of attention to guests’ needs that inspired Marver to open the Paws-A-While Pet Suites across the street from the main hotel. “One weekend I got 6 phone calls from people wanting to bring their pets to the hotel,” he says. “I already owned that house across the street, so I gutted it, remodeled it, and opened it up to people who want to travel with their pets.”
The pet suites are quite possibly the best hotel accommodations a canine owner could hope for: an outdoor hot/cold doggie shower area, dog doors accessing the ample private fenced backyard areas, food and water bowls, and dog “beds” that are couches as comfortable as anything you’d find in your own living room–and which are off-limits to humans.
Despite the consuming nature of the hotel business, Marver finds time to enjoy all that the town of Twisp has to offer; he’s a regular fixture at openings and events, and even appears occasionally in a community theater production. “It’s non-stop here,” he says. “With The Merc Playhouse, the Community Center, the galleries, the Saturday Farmers Market, TwispWorks – it’s all coming together.” Marver continues, “It just keeps getting better and better. There’s only positive stuff happening.”
Marver’s contribution to this non-stop calendar of events is a fairly regular seasonal schedule of music and themed dinners. Marver frequently sings with local pianists and string-pluckers, and sellout dinners with Italian, Spanish, and other themes happen regularly on warm summer evenings.
Twisp River Suites has been open less than 10 years, but Marver isn’t coasting on this venture; he’s constantly adding, changing, improving–responding to guests’ interests and needs. Whether it’s installing a large metal wasp sculpture on the corner of the pet suites’ parking area, tweaking the coveted scone recipe, or dreaming up other ways that he can contribute to the growing vibrant energy of Twisp, Marver simply asks himself, “What’s next?”