Drive the path to Sundara West mansion bed-and breakfast on its five-acre plot of land, and you might
see the 93-year-old grandmother of proprietor Hank Dressel picking vegetables in the lush garden. Or
your eyes might lock onto the adjoining greenhouse-encased 44-foot long swimming pool, complete with water slide and heated with solar panels.
The swimming pool and adjacent hot tub were constructed in 2003 after Hank’s parents, Marshall and Jackie Dressel, bought the home from its only other prior owner in 1997. “When it was originally built,” said Hank, who runs the place with his partner, Alford Johnson, “they used old parts and pieces from other old houses that were torn down to make it still look like an old house.”
The partnership of Hank and Alford, who met through online dating, couldn’t be cuter or better matched. Together,
along with running the bed and breakfast for the past three years, they own and operate a salon in nearby Bellingham. For the salon, they make their own organic, biodegradable aromatherapy products, from shampoo to body mist, also available at Sundara West.
“My philosophy,” says Hank, “is attention to detail. I just like to make everything as perfect as possible.” And he
has. Sundara West’s Lavender Room, which costs $195 per night or $165 for multiple nights, is one of the three rooms available, along with the Yellow Room ($195/night) and the Queen room ($165). The Lavender Room has a kingsized bed, big puffy sheets and bathroom with claw-foot tub and homemade soaps. It looks over the perfectly manicured lawn, complete with wedding gazebo, which seats 50, and the fresh garden growing apples, strawberries, blueberries, peppers and squash.
Guests at Sundara West also have access to a library of movies and a fridge stocked with fresh juice, fruit and
sweets. But you’ll want to save room in the morning because Hank and Alford wake up early and “play restaurant,”
making a coursed, savory and sweet breakfast based on their guests’ preferences and dietary restrictions. They serve
breakfast in their beautiful Victorian dining room.
“We do anything anybody wants or needs,” said Hank, who has a background working in the service industry, from
busser to bartender to manager. “We use as much from our own garden as possible. If not, we get it locally from
somewhere organic.” For those keeping score, the word “Sundara” is Sanskrit for beauty. Said Hank, “My mom’s sister has a place in Virginia where she does weddings and she named her place Sundara and my mom loved the name so when we started off doing just weddings she named the house Sundara West.”
Family is a big part of the equation for Hank. It’s why he moved to Washington from Arizona. “My sister was getting
ready to have a baby in Vancouver, Canada.” There’s also a secret room in Sundara West that will soon be made into a
bedroom with a separate entrance staircase for his parents and an additional room for the 93-year-old grandma.
But the overarching goal for the bed-and-breakfast oasis for Hank and Alford is for anyone staying there to have as
near a perfect stay as possible, which isn’t too lofty a goal given the expansive beauty of their manicured home.
“We just like to make everything as enjoyable and relaxed, yet elegant, as we can,” Hank said. “All we want is to be
accommodating — plus a little extra. We want to make a memorable experience.”