MEET OUR SALES & CATERING TEAM
JANENE VARDEN - Director of Sales & Marketing
Worked at Willows Lodge since 2007
Birth place: Bellingham, Washington
Favorite Woodinville wine/winery: I love JM Cellars! The beautiful setting and delicious wine make for an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon!
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: I love coming to work at Willows because of our culture, the beauty we are surrounded by, as well as what our brand stands for in terms of quality, consistency, and truly genuine hospitality.
What you do on a Sunday when not working: I enjoy adventuring with my family whether that is to explore a new park, go hiking, or doing something athletic together outdoors!
Your favorite secret fact about Woodinville Wine Country: Check out the Woodinville Farmer's Market in DeYoung Park (across from Molbak's) on Saturdays from May-September. You will find fresh produce from local farmers, honey, flowers, and unique gifts from local artisans.
" I help to create a website experience that is both visually appealing and full of easy-to-navigate, useful information to help make meeting and event planning effortless!"
ROBIN AKKERMAN - Associate Director of Sales
Worked at Willows Lodge since 2000
Birth place: Beloit, Wisconsin
Favorite Woodinville wine/winery: Castillo De Feliciana Vineyard & Winery. I love their Tempranillo Rose, Malbec, Brillante (Brut Sparkling Wine), and their Woodinville and Walla Walla tasting rooms are inviting, comfortable and offer spectacular views...AND they are friends of mine!
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: Every day, week, month and year offers a new challenge. I enjoy seeing a project idea/meeting come together beginning to end and hearing the guest/client is totally satisfied and can't wait to return.
Secret fact about Willows Lodge: The Official Houdini Seance Society held their annual seance here at Willows Lodge on Halloween 2003. Rumor has it that Houdini himself visited Mr. Stimson's original Willows Lodge back in the early 1900's.
What you do on a Sunday when you're not working: Clean, watch TCM movies and football!
"I help meeting planners brainstorm themes/activities/sets for the best ROI".
JOAN MONSON - Sales Manager, CMP
Worked at Willows Lodge since 2005
Birth place: Hanover, New Hampshire
Favorite Woodinville winery/wine: Chateau Ste. Michelle is hands down my favorite winery to visit. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket and head to their beautiful new tasting rooms for a bottle (or 3) of Horse Heaven Hills Sauvignon Blanc. Then find a sunny spot on their grass, settle in and wait for the peacocks to stroll by.
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: I get to work at the most gorgeous location with a team of passionate professionals who truly love what they do.
Secret fact about Willows Lodge: Go to breakfast/brunch at the Barking Frog. Get the huckleberry pancakes. Thank me later!
What you do on Sundays when not working: Run around Green Lake!
"I hope to set the bar so high that I become the standard that meeting planners hope to have wherever they may go."
ERIN LACCINOLE - Director of Catering & Conference Services, CMP
Worked at Willows Lodge since 2002
Birth place: Vancouver, Washington
Favorite Woodinville wine/winery: JM Cellars because of their small, specialized production with a lovely, homey facility. You feel like you are being welcomed into their home with a great family story. My favorite wine is JM Cellars Viognier.
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: Every day is different!
What you do on Sundays when not working: Exercise, watch my kids compete in sports and play with my dog Abby.
"I assist our valued guests to a seamless, successful and memorable experience at Willows Lodge, while keeping in mind budgets, vision and group goals."
JENN WENMAN - Associate Director of Catering
Worked at Willows Lodge since 2002
Birth place: Seattle, Washington
Favorite Woodinville wine/winery: Cascade Cliffs Winery is my favorite local tasting room because they produce varietals that are fairly unique to Washington such as Barbera & Nebbiolo, and their wines are really good! Plus, John and team at the tasting room are fantastic, super friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about wine.
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: How could you not love working at Willows Lodge? The hotel and grounds are simply breathtaking and our team is filled with individuals that truly care about each other and our guests.
Your favorite secret fact about Woodinville Wine Country: The Tolt Pipeline Trail is within walking distance of the hotel, offering a beautiful and peaceful setting and some seriously daunting hills. I promise the views are worth it!
What you do on Sundays when not working: During football season my Sundays are spent rooting on the Hawks as well as my fantasy football team. When football season ends, I split my days off between chores and discovering new wineries/tasting rooms in the area.
"I develop personal connections with my clients which helps me to truly understand and execute their event vision - and has led to lifelong clients AND friends!"
DANA McMULLEN - Catering & Conference Service Manager
Worked at Willows Lodge since 2003
Birth place: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Favorite Woodinville wine/winery: Chateau Ste. Michelle - I love their Sparkling, Sauvignon Blanc and the Eroica Riesling, and the summer concerts are always fun!
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: We have so much fun! The people here are the best - they're like my second family. It's such a special place - it's not hard to come to work every day.
What you do on Sundays when not working: I'm a homebody, so I like to spend quality time at home with my kids when not working. During football season, we always watch the Hawks!
Little known fact about Willows Lodge: When the hotel first opened, we had 88 rooms. Now we have 84. Two were turned into the Gilman meeting room, one was turned in the Burke meeting room, and one is our spa relaxation room.
"I make planning small and intimate meetings and events easy and fun, and help create memorable experiences."
NICOLE VIRTUE - Catering Manager
Worked at Willows Lodge since 2014.
Birth place: Anchorage, Alaska
Favorite Woodinville Winery: With a well-traveled, talented female winemaker and sustainable wine growing practices at their vineyards, I'd definitely say a'Maurice is my favorite. Check out their tasting room in Woodinville next to Purple Cafe where you can enjoy their elegant, old world-style wines.
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: I have never worked with a more dedicated team who are genuinely passionate about guest service. I love how our staff works to support and celebrate one another. This culture shines through to our guests and makes for such a positive work environment.
Your favorite secret about Willows Lodge: Our meeting rooms are named after our beautiful surroundings. Take one of our bikes, when staying at the lodge, and get outdoors.
What do you do on Sundays when not working: You can find me out enjoying live music shows, staying active snowboarding in the winter and jumping in the lake during our gorgeous NW summers.
"I create thoughtful, detailed meeting experiences for small groups seeking unique, productive, and inspiring off-sites".
EMMA RINTALA - Assistant Catering Manager
Birth place: Kirkland, Washington
Favorite Woodinville Winery: Woodhouse Wine Estates is my favorite place to be. I love the wine and can't help but stare at the fabulous chandeliers that highlight the room. Their seasonal wines are my favorite. They taste delicious and are very festive!
Why you love working at Willows Lodge: I look forward to work every day. Everyone is happy, friendly and excited to be here. It is nice to be surrounded by passionate people who truly care about you and our guests.
What do you do on Sundays when not working: I love to try new cafes all over the Seattle area, so you will most likely find me out to brunch with a mimosa in hand.
"I hope to create intimate weddings that will be remembered and cherished for a lifetime."