The Pacific Northwest has an abundance of incredible historic towns up and down the Washington coast that have made their mark over the years: Port Townsend, Westport, Gig Harbor and Ocean Shores to name a few. And then there’s Moclips. With only 300 year-round residents, this tiny coastal town is privileged to have one of the best resorts in the region, Ocean Crest Resort. Originally built, owned and operated by the Curtwright family since 1953, its prestige and world-renowned accommodations, as well as five-star restaurant, has brought thousands of tourists from all over the country, hungry for a glimpse of the beauty that surrounds it. The legacy of the Ocean Crest Resort is the story of how one family can leave their footprint in the sand for the next generation.

A twist of fate brought the Curtwright family to the Pacific Northwest to visit a relative on Orcas Island. Originally from Saskatchewan, Canada and then Minnesota, the mild weather and picturesque Northwest beckoned them from the harsh winters. When the patriarch of the family, a pilot for Northwest Airlines, had the opportunity to transfer from Minnesota to Seattle in 1947 to SeaTac—which had just been built—they immediately jumped at the chance.

Rob Curtwright, who has been running the resort with his siblings since 1968, describes someone they knew at church was selling their small business and after several vacations to the area, his parents decided to buy it. “It was four cabins and after we got here, we built two more units so it could be listed in AAA,” he shares. “There was no restaurant yet.”

Ocean-Crest Resort moclips
The Ocean Crest Resort is the best hotel on the Peninsula. Photo courtesy: Ocean Crest Resort

Through the years the family worked at gradually adding to the business including the restaurant. “We expanded the living out over the bluff, made a dining room, opened the dinner house in 1963 and my mom did all the cooking,” Rob shares. “You had to have reservations and as people called to reserve a room, they would put their order in ahead of time. There were only five items on the menu, so she knew what she had to cook. Having never been in the restaurant business, she would go grocery shopping every day and there wasn’t a commercial kitchen yet. She cooked out of our own kitchen! She was a wonderful cook and always liked cooking, really enjoyed it. Whenever she travelled, she’d bring back cookbooks, always trying new things.”

By 1965 they were finally able to get a liquor license, so then they opened a bar within the restaurant, and began hiring and training employees as he and his sibling began to go to college.

Ocean-Crest Resort moclips history
Sweeping views 100 feet above the ocean at the Ocean Crest Resort are one of the many reasons tourist flock here like seagulls. Photo courtesy: Ocean Crest Resort

Tourists from all over Washington State and the region were vacationing in the area, especially after 1959, when Ocean Shores was settled as a destination. This, coupled with the fact that the train used to go up and down the coast via the beach to the Northern Pacific Railroad Depot in Moclips, brought plenty of business to the Ocean Crest Resort. A lot of it was for transporting lumber, as the area had the largest lumber yard in the state at the time, however, plenty of tourists would make the trek up the beach from Ocean Shores.

Although several hotels made their mark in the early 1900s as tourists flocked to the beaches, the Ocean Crest Resort continued to make their guests feel like a part of their family with home-cooked recipes, great atmosphere and stunning sweeping views just 100 feet above the sea.

Currently the Ocean Crest Resort has a Spa that includes a pool, hot tub, sauna and offers massages for those who book ahead. The five-star restaurant that stands today was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the original dining room and reopened in 2014 to rave reviews. Having experienced the cuisine myself, the last five years, I highly recommend it and the staff is wonderful.

Ocean-Crest Resort moclips restaurant
The Ocean Crest Resort’s 5-star Restaurant was rebuilt after a fire burned the original and reopened in 2014. Photo courtesy: Ocean Crest Resort

Jessie Owens, a member of the Curtwright family, remains as general manager and feels it’s his job to ensure the family legacy of excellence continues, even as a new owner takes over. “Investors that own a string of oceanside hotels in Seaside, Oregon, came to see the resort and took one look at its location, the views and that was it,” Jessie share. “There were other offers on the table, including a chemical company who would have closed the resort and we didn’t want our employees to lose their jobs. That’s something the family didn’t want.”

Jessie says there are a few changes to the resort, including upgrades. “We are renovating some of our rooms and giving others a facelift,” he explains. In addition, a new website has been created where guests can book directly online.

While the new owners of the Ocean Crest Resort will manage their investment from Seaside, thanks to the age of technology, the legacy of this jewel hovering above the sand will continue, and the Curtwright’s footstep will forever be cemented in Moclips.

 

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