The Muckleshoot Tribe will be the new owner of the Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie. Salish officials said Tuesday that the historic...

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The Muckleshoot Tribe will be the new owner of the Salish Lodge & Spa in Snoqualmie.

Salish officials said Tuesday that the historic luxury hotel will be transferred to the tribe Oct. 9. The sale price was not available, said Kirsten Bell, Salish spokeswoman.

The move is a coup for the tribe, once among the poorest in Western Washington, and complements a long string of tribal investments.

The Muckleshoots run one of the most profitable casinos in the state; own the land under Emerald Downs racetrack and a major amphitheater; and recently became investors in the Four Seasons hotel and private residences development in downtown Seattle.

Acquisition of the Salish Lodge is just one more step to build the tribe’s economy, according to tribal chairwoman Charlotte Williams.

Built in 1919, the lodge sits at the edge of Snoqualmie Falls and is a destination for about 1.5 million people each year, most during the peak summer season. It houses 89 guest rooms, four suites and the spa.

Once noted for enormous weekend breakfasts that featured honey poured from about ceiling height, the restaurant-turned-resort now regularly shows up on various lists of top lodges, spas and dining locations in the world. The Salish was recently ranked No. 31 among U.S. and Canadian hotels by Travel + Leisure magazine.

The tribe plans no changes in the lodge, which went on the market in June.

The Muckleshoots beat out several others seeking to acquire it, including the neighboring Snoqualmie Tribe. Snoqualmie Falls is sacred to the Snoqualmie Tribe, which regards the site as its birthplace.

The Snoqualmie Tribe is building a 170,000-square-foot casino near Snoqualmie; it’s expected to open in November 2008.

Tuesday, the Snoqualmie tribal council released a one-sentence statement through Matt Mattson, tribal administrator. “We want to thank our friends to the South for helping to preserve this wonderful, sacred Indian property,” Mattson said. He declined to comment further.

The Muckleshoot Tribe respects the significance of the site to the Snoqualmie and other Coast Salish tribes, and pursued the deal purely as a business opportunity, said Rollin Fatland, a spokesman for the Muckleshoots.

Seattle-based Coastal Hotel Group, which has managed the property for the past eight years, also submitted a bid to buy it. The group had plans to build a separate, adjacent conference hotel with up to 250 rooms on 25,000 square feet of land. The new facility would have generated 400 jobs.

“We’re disappointed,” said Yogi Hutsen, president of the Coastal Hotel Group.

The lodge will be operated by Columbia Hospitality, which specializes in luxury hotel and resort management.

The tribe signed a 20-year management contract with Columbia. It is the Seattle-based company’s third venture with the tribe. Columbia has done food-and-beverage consulting with the tribe at its casino and is the managing partner in the Four Seasons hotel.

Staff at the lodge and the mayor of Snoqualmie were notified of the purchase Tuesday. John Oppenheimer, president and CEO of Columbia, said the current staff are keeping their jobs. And while he is looking at possible upgrades to furnishings, no other changes are planned.

Gateway Cascades, a holding company for the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Association (LACERA), currently owns the hotel, which includes the lodge, spa and its restaurants and gift shops.

King County records show the property was valued at more than $16 million — $512,500 for the land and $15.5 million for the facility.

It was last sold for $13.35 million by Puget Western in 1996 to Gateway Cascades, according to the records.

Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe, which owns a casino and luxury resort on the Kitsap Peninsula, said the purchase is one more sign of the arrival of Puget Sound tribes as economic engines.

“It’s important to understand the tribes are diversifying,” Forsman said. “It’s good for the economy. The tribes have been here for a long time, and they will be here for a long time. We operate these things with long-term vision. We invest for the long haul.”

Forsman said the Muckleshoots’ purchase was a surprise — but only partly. “I have found them to be good negotiators.”

Information from The Seattle Times archives is included in this report.

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or; Lynda V. Mapes: 206-464-2736 or