Contributed photos
                                The Tidwells, then and now.

Contributed photos The Tidwells, then and now.

John Cox and Julia Felder buy Orcas Hotel

Submitted by John Cox.

After years of exploring the world and embracing a wide variety of opportunities and adventures, Julia Felder and I decided it was time for us to put down some roots and build both a home and business that are truly ours.

From our respective childhoods spent in D.C., Texas and New Mexico, to our training and careers that lead to London, New York, California, Vermont, Hawaii and many places in-between, we both feel incredibly fortunate to have seen and experienced so many places and communities. After such nomadic lifestyles, we have been seeking a place where we could share our love for food and hospitality. For two years, we looked at dozens of inns but ultimately there was only one property that really captivated us.

The Orcas Hotel has been welcoming guests to the San Juan Islands for over 100 years. Located just above the Orcas Island Ferry Landing, the hotel has served as a welcome beacon for visitors and residents alike. With 12 cozy rooms, a small cafe and a restaurant, the Orcas Hotel was simply, for us, love at first sight.

Despite the hotel being such a perfect match, what really convinced us to pursue the property was the Orcas community itself. As we explored the island, we were impressed by the quality of farms, chefs, restaurants and patrons that call Orcas their home. Despite having only been on the island a few months, we have already enjoyed a number of inspiring meals, hikes and conversations.

In purchasing the Orcas Hotel, we realize it is an iconic destination that has existed far longer than we have been alive and one that will hopefully continue long after we have gone. We love the hotel and cafe as they are, a center for community where anyone can come and enjoy a cup of coffee while waiting for ferry, or experience a leisurely meal on the deck overlooking the water. As the inn’s most recent custodians, we hope to preserve the history of the property and at the same time, add our own fingerprint to its legacy. Despite both being trained chefs with a background in fine-dining, we have no intention of “rebuilding the wheel.”

Becoming the caretakers of such an important landmark is an opportunity we are incredibly grateful for. We look forward to being part of the Orcas community and to welcoming guests to the hotel’s newest chapter.

Please keep an eye on our website www.orcashotel.com for updates. You can also find more about us on Instagram @chefjohncox or www.chefjohncox.com.

Doug and Laura Tidwell, along with their two daughters Samantha and Kathryn purchased the hotel in June of 1998. The Hotel was run as a family business: Laura Tidwell handled the gardens and accounting, while Doug Tidwell ran the day-to-day operations. The kids were taught to make scones and espresso, fold napkins, wait tables and run the front desk. Later in their ownership, Samantha played an instrumental part in running the daily operations.

“We are very excited that the hotel was purchased by a couple that understands the business,” said the Tidwells. “Both are trained chefs but more importantly they understand the dynamics of running a business in a small community. Their energy and ideas will give new life to the hotel and provide our community with another unique property for all of us to enjoy. We would like to thank everyone for the business over the last 22 years and a thank you to the hundreds of people that have worked next to us to make it all happen. It has been a wonderful ride.”