When I visited the SCP hotel in Redmond, Oregon a couple of weeks before Christmas, I heard there was going to be a performance of The Christmas Carol in the lobby at six. It seemed a bit unusual for a hotel, but I like Christmasy stuff, so I went downstairs. That’s when I found out I was in the show. Everyone was. A local librarian passed out copies of the script, which we were to perform readers’ theater style. At my request to be a ghost, she cast me as the Ghost of Christmas Past. My fellow players ranged in age from about seven to perhaps mid-60s. As far as I could tell, I was the only person staying at the hotel. The experience made me feel immediately involved in the community. I’d just rolled into town, and already I was in a play.
This is one of an impressive number of community initiatives I was to learn about during my two-day stay at SCP Redmond. The initials stand for Soul Community Planet and I was astounded at how diligently the brand works to live up to that promise.
The hotel layout
SCP Redmond is right in the downtown strip. The town of Redmond has a population of just under 36,000 and is 17 miles northeast of Bend. While Bend has exploded to reach a population of more than 100,000 in the last couple of years, Redmond still has a smaller town feel.
The hotel has a lot going on. Between its café, two bars, upscale restaurant and coworking space, I suspect some people don’t initially realize these aren’t separate businesses, but part of a single hotel. There’s also a gym equipped with two Peloton bikes, TRX trainers and a good selection of small equipment like kettlebells, dumbbells, medicine balls and yoga props. And a dedicated meditation space. It’s all decked out with lots of art and an outdoorsy/explorer theme.
Redmond’s big attractions are nature and business. Many hotel guests are hikers and rock climbers exploring nearby Smith Rock State Park. Business travelers may be in aviation — Redmond has the regional airport — or be affiliated with Facebook and Apple’s humongous data centers in nearby Prineville.
Integrating into the community
As I sat in Provisions Market, the hotel’s café, general manager Tobias Colvin blew my mind with all of SCP’s community connections and said, “If you look at some of the items that are on the shelves, you’ll see local entrepreneurs.”
He pointed out delicious-looking candied nuts made by Smith Rock Nut Roasters, the side hustle of a local high school teacher. There’s coffee from Bend roaster Back Porch and teas from central Oregon brand Metolius Teas. As he talked, I worried my recorder wouldn’t pick up his voice, as the place was packed with artsy, enthusiastic high school students and other assorted locals starting their day with smoothies, espresso drinks and conversation. The carefully curated snacks benefit both hotel and entrepreneurs.
“It builds their business. And it helps our customers get a uniquely local product that they’re not going to get anyplace else,” Colvin said.
SCP also works with agencies like Diversability to employ people whose diverse abilities make it difficult to find jobs. The hotel has some not-so-verbal people who clean the hotel and do dishes in the restaurants. These workers might start off with a job coach until they learn their tasks.
“So it’s giving them confidence in their abilities,” Colvin said. “The goal is to be self-sufficient.”
The Provisions Market is especially popular with Redmond residents. Book clubs come in. A knitting club gets together every Tuesday to chat, knit together and have coffee or tea. Friend groups regularly meet up here. That said, it hasn’t all been easy. SCP Redmond opened in December 2019 which, as you might remember, was only a few months before a world-altering pandemic.
“The growth has been very slow,” Colvin said. “But once we get people, they come back all the time.”
A surprisingly veg-friendly property
I knew ahead of time that SCP billed itself as “plant-forward.” But when I got there, the property turned out to be all vegetarian! This may not last forever. As Erin Behzadian, executive chef of Terra Kitchen told me, SCP Redmond was having a hard time finding ethically-sourced local meat. So they took it off the menu.
During my stay, I reveled in the meat-free space. I ordered a vegan burger and avocado-based chocolate mousse at the Wayfarer Bar. For my two mornings there, I drank smoothies and ate a vegan breakfast burrito or avocado toast.
And best of all, there’s Terra Kitchen. I was pretty shocked to find an upscale veg restaurant in Redmond. So are the locals, some of whom realize there’s no meat on the menu and turn around and walk out. Behzadian said that they’ve added pizzas recently to make the menu more approachable, and that’s helped with locals. I skipped the pizza and ordered the delightful veg-packed Persian stew, one of her grandmother’s recipes.
The SCP brand
If the brand’s message of soul, community and planet sounds good to you, you’re in luck. The chain is expanding. Right now, it owns properties in Oregon, Colorado, California, Hawaii and Costa Rica. SCP doesn’t build anything. Instead, they buy and revive. The SCP Redmond site first started out as a hotel in 1906. The properties may differ drastically in size, location and amenities.
“The brand is always the same,” said Colvin. “We’re always trying to go for soul, community, planet. We try to source things locally. We try to make sure that it’s all healthy food that you’re eating.”
When I checked in, the desk person greeted me and told me they’d be planting a tree in honor of my stay, like they do for everyone. I can’t think of a better welcome.
Photography by Teresa Bergen