In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re shining a spotlight on the inspiring journey of Janene Varden, the Director of Sales & Marketing at Willows Lodge. With over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Janene’s story is one of resilience, leadership, and unwavering dedication.

Janene’s journey into hospitality began during her time at Washington State University, where she was drawn to the prestigious hospitality school, ranked among the top 5 in the country. “Knowing the school of hospitality management was so highly regarded helped to steer me in the direction of hotels, and I have never looked back!” Janene reminisces.

One defining moment in Janene’s career occurred during the aftermath of 9/11 while she was working for Kimpton hotels. Amidst the uncertainty, she was appointed as the Director of Sales for the Alexis Hotel. This pivotal experience taught her invaluable lessons in adaptability and leadership, under the guidance of an inspiring female General Manager.

Reflecting on the challenges posed by the pandemic, Janene emphasizes the importance of staying level-headed and positive while navigating through crises. “In times like this, take risks and try different things—you have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” she advises aspiring women in similar roles.

Innovation is key in today’s evolving hospitality sector, and Janene underscores the significance of collaboration and leveraging expertise in digital marketing. “Social media is ever-changing, and women are leading the charge when it comes to how to best use these important marketing tools,” she notes.

Beyond her professional endeavors, Janene is passionate about mentorship, actively engaging with students and young professionals to provide guidance and support. “It is great to see so many women working in the hospitality industry and being promoted to management and director level positions,” she remarks.

When asked about a playful scenario of hotel hide and seek, Janene shares a whimsical insight, “The area of our hotel where it would be most challenging to find me would be tucked in a massage bed in one of our spa treatment rooms.”

As for the theme song of Willows Lodge? Janene suggests “Red Wine & Roses,” capturing the essence of the establishment nestled in Woodinville Wine Country, where guests come to celebrate special occasions surrounded by luxury and indulgence. Plus, “We use red rose petals for our famous Do Not Disturb package!”, Janene adds.

Janene Varden’s story is a testament to the strength and resilience of women in the hospitality industry. As we honor Women’s History Month, let’s continue to uplift and support women like Janene, whose contributions shape the landscape of hospitality for generations to come.