Explore Seattle

Ask the Expert: Shawn LaPlant

Mayflower Park Hotel's concierge dishes on all things Seattle

Shawn LaPlant: Concierge, Mayflower Park Hotel; Board Treasurer, Seattle Hotel Concierge Association 

What is your proudest moment as a concierge?

Being hired…seriously! It was by sheer luck that I walked into the Mayflower Park Hotel when they had a sudden opening. While I’d lived in Seattle for 20 years, with numerous jobs in the hotel industry, I had no formal concierge experience. The Chef Concierge at the time gave me a chance anyway, telling me that as long as I had personality and a passion for the city, I could learn the rest. I am proud to be a concierge at the Mayflower Park Hotel going on five years now, as well as a member of the Seattle Hotel Concierge Association, serving as its board treasurer for over two years. I believe that the character of its employees is a big part of what makes the Mayflower Park Hotel a special place to stay and work.

What is one of the city’s best-kept secrets?

Head up to Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park and take in the 360-degree view from the top of its 1906 brick water tower. If you can hack the 106 stairs without experiencing vertigo, this panoramic view of city, lakes, sound and surrounding mountains is breathtaking…and free. While you are at it, take in all the beauty that this historic Olmsted Brothers-designed park has to offer, including the Seattle Asian Art Museum, beautiful conservatory and luscious tree-lined meadows.

What is your favorite attraction to recommend to visitors?

While this isn’t a formal attraction per se, I always suggest taking the quick, 40-minute ride on the Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island. Our ferry system is a signature of our city and region; you see it in almost every movie shot and photo op of Seattle. The ride provides amazing views of the skyline and stunning natural geography and is a cheap and easy way for locals and visitors alike to get out on the water. My favorite thing is to throw on a light jacket, grab a cup of coffee from the on-board snack bar, and park myself on the open air top deck. Fresh air, stunning views and seagulls gliding alongside the boat are just a few of the sensory treats. Once you arrive on the other side, you can re-board and head back—or better yet, stay awhile and explore the quaint town of Winslow, just a short walk from the ferry dock.

What recommendations do you have for guests wanting to unwind?

Well, this really depends on what the guest’s definition of unwinding is. For the more athletically inclined, I would suggest renting a kayak from the Agua Verde Paddle Club and heading toward Lake Union for city and houseboats views or to the Arboretum to paddle through serene water trails. Of course, one must follow-up with a refreshing margarita and some great Mexican cuisine at the Agua Verde Café! If lifting a finger is a stretch, then I suggest a visit to one of our many great day spas. My personal favorite is Banya 5, a Russian themed bathhouse and health spa. Begin with a sauna and a dip in their series of hot and cold pools. Follow up with a truly decadent salt scrub with sea salt and honey and a snooze in the nap room!

What do you like to experience when you travel?

Once the lodging is secured and bags unpacked, I like to get off the beaten path and have spontaneous adventures. Walking around a city, exploring its various nooks and crannies, and chatting up the locals for recommendations is a must. For the Seattle visitor, in addition to exploring our amazing downtown, I would highly suggest visiting some of our urban neighborhoods, each with its own distinct center and unique character.

What is your favorite convenience at the Mayflower Park Hotel’s location?

The Mayflower Park Hotel’s central location in the middle of all the downtown action! It is incredibly convenient to so many downtown attractions, including the Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Seattle waterfront and of course everything retail. (Hello, the Nordstrom flagship store is just around the corner!) We are also within a block (Seattle blocks are short, folks) of key public transportation options, including the Link Light Rail to the airport, Monorail to the Seattle Center campus, Seattle Streetcar to the shores of Lake Union and Seattle Metro bus corridor with stops for several neighborhood routes. In fact, the Mayflower is connected to the Westlake Center via tunnel, which means you don’t even need to step outside to get to the Monorail and Link Light Rail!

What dining experience is most unique to Seattle?

Arcade Lights, the bi-annual celebration of artisanal foods in the historic Pike Place Market arcade, is a unique and reasonably priced way to dine on an array of locally crafted food and libations while enjoying sunset views. Not only are you able to enjoy a progressive meal of sorts as you move from vendor to vendor, but you get an education on the breadth and importance of locally sourced and artisan fare in our city.

Do you have a Northwest tradition you would like to share with our readers?

While there are so many, the one that sticks out most is ringing in summer at the annual Fremont Solstice Fair and Parade. I have many fond memories of meeting up with friends and staking a spot in the crowd to check out the naked bike riders and sublime costumes. I love the youth and exuberance of the Fremont neighborhood year round, with its quirky public art, local pubs and restaurants, and great people watching.