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Lakefront resort remains focus in Coeur d’Alene

A visitor returning to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, after a 10-year absence would find much unchanged in this resort town of 41,000 on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The Coeur d’Alene Golf and Spa Resort remains the dominant force, the only lakefront hotel, its golf course still keeper of the world’s only floating golf green. Just over 100 stores and restaurants, almost all locally inspired, line the streets of downtown Coeur d’Alene, a short walk from the resort.

But there are some differences. For example, the 337-room resort, a perennial winner of travel publication awards and in business nearly 25 years, has made its share of improvements.

Three years ago, it spent $20 million on renovations; half of that sum was used to build a new spa. The resort’s 25,000-square-foot conference center was also reconfigured, and a new dedicated kitchen was added to service its 15,000-square-foot ballroom.

Those improvements, as well as guest room upgrades, helped the Coeur d’Alene Resort score near the top of the nation’s resorts in a Zagat survey
this year.

A new meeting and event option in the area, the 202-room Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel in nearby Worley, is a growing enterprise of the Coeur d’Alene Indian tribe. In July, the resort announced its seventh and largest expansion.

The $75 million project, expected to open in mid-2011, will add 105 hotel rooms, a fitness center, a destination-level spa and a restaurant.

A wooden boat catches visitors’ eyes.

The resort has 13,500 square feet of event space, and the resort might add a conference center in a future expansion. The resort’s Circling Raven Golf Club added to the area’s golf options when it opened a few years ago.

Among the most noticeable changes in Coeur d’Alene is the growth on its outskirts with the development of exclusive gated communities.

Coeur d’Alene’s downtown association invigorates the business district by organizing and marketing special events that draw visitors to the city. “It just keeps downtown really alive,” said Dani Zibell-Wolfe, vice president of tourism for the Coeur D’Alene Chamber and Visitors Bureau.

The Car d’Alene weds auto aficionados with car collectors; a Dog d’Alene event encourages visitors to bring their canine friends to town. Two arts events and A Taste of Coeur d’Alene, held on the same summer weekend, meld into one big gathering, attended by some 70,000 people.

The brilliant blue lake, the parks and trails at its edges, and the surrounding wilderness area make it hard to stay indoors. Boats of varying sizes take parties on cruises; a new bike- and kayak-rental business specializes in guided paddles on the lake with stories about the area’s history.

Among the off-site venues near town is Settlers Creek, a reworked dairy farm with hayrides, horseshows, barbecues and entertainment in an amphitheater.

(877) 782-9232