By Julia Babkina
Kennedy aims to be ‘friendly to everybody’
River Run Inn is under new ownership following the sale of the inn in November.
New owner Michael Kennedy says the 16-room facility is “just enough to keep me super busy but not completely overwhelming.”
Kennedy said the inn is everything he was looking for when he set out to buy a property.
“It just fit all of our criteria — lodge, up in the mountains, fishing nearby and some kind of water feature that was close by,” he said. “When we saw this one and the water feature is that far from it, it was just like wow, this is better than we could have imagined, so let’s try to get it.”
Kennedy grew up in Yakima and California before moving to Hawaii, where her lived for 36 years and worked as a CAT scan tech. In 2019 he was diagnosed with cancer. Not long after came the COVID pandemic.
“I needed a change in my life,” recounted Kennedy. He told himself, “if I live through this, I’m going to do something different.”
“I always thought this would be a really cool job because my whole career is working with people on the worst day of their life, in a lot of cases, and now I get to serve people having the best day of their life, so it’s a big positive change for me,” he added.
Kennedy purchased the property with the help of his brother, a commercial real estate broker based in Vancouver, Washington, who had visited the property and remarked how beautiful it is.
“We began talking about it and by chance, it came onto the market and it was one of those decisions — either you jump or you don’t. So I did and I sold my house in Hawaii and bought this,” said Kennedy.
The sale came at a good time for del Siena Lints, previously Craig Lints, who was managing the property for his ex-wife, who could no longer care for the property due to her declining health.
Lints and his ex-wife Olivia Rose, formerly Carol Lints, purchased the property in 1996 after another property they drove from Bothell to see in Klamath Falls, Oregon, turned out to be a huge disappointment. That weekend, they drove north to Winthrop to look at River Run Inn.
“We didn’t know what a motel was,” said Lints, recounting the learning curve that came with purchasing the business. Before the Lints bought the inn, the inn’s reservation system included a sign on Friday nights that read, “If you need a room, call Three Fingered Jack’s,” which would then contact the inn manager.
Over the years, Lints, who had worked in construction in Seattle, built five cabins, added four motel rooms, and changed a portion of the inn into a house rental. The house was owned by Jack Rader before being converted into a bed and breakfast and then an inn.
New owner Kennedy said he doesn’t want to define the inn by a single type of customer.
“If you say it’s family friendly, are you alienating somebody who doesn’t have a family? We get a lot of single people with pets coming over and I want them to feel just as comfortable as anybody here so I hate to say I’m family friendly or I’m this friendly or I’m that friendly because I just want to be friendly to everybody,” Kennedy said. “Everybody that wants to come and hear a river across from their room should be able to do it.”
Lints described himself as being in a happy place following the sale. He has moved to Bellingham to study jazz at Western Washington University. Lints plays the trombone and composes music.
“I’m self-taught in a lot of ways and I want to go back and learn a lot of the basics that I missed,” he said.
As for the inn, Lints said it holds a special place for him.
“I describe myself as a devout atheist, and yet, there is something about River Run that is spiritual,” said Lints. “I used to tell my employees, if you have a bad day, you have my permission to walk out back and sit by the river for half an hour because that’s all you have to do is sit by the river and everything kind of solves itself.”
“I’ve often felt like I was just a caretaker there,” he added. “There’s something about it that’s magical that’s hard to explain. It has a life of its own. It’ll survive any set of owners or problems. There’s something alive there that’s special.”