Emerald Bay completes $500k renovation of former Breakwater space

Emerald Bay Events employees Anna Schiessl and Micah LaNasa show off the renovated Sapphire Cove venue.

J.J.Jensen
   A major remodel of Sapphire Cove, Emerald Bay Events’ waterfront venue for receptions, banquets and galas, was completed last week, just in time for the busy holiday party season.
   The $500,000 makeover of the facility at 2625 S. Harbor Loop Dr., now being called Emerald Bay at the Bellingham Yacht Club, is one of several recent changes new owner Kim Alfreds has asked for recently in an attempt to further upgrade the well-established company.
   “When (Alfreds) took over ownership of Emerald Bay Events in January, he had visions of renovating the space and making it a more upscale facility for the county,” said Emerald Bay’s marketing director Micah LaNasa, as he gave a tour of the location.
   Upon entering the site, the former location of the Breakwater restaurant, visitors are no longer greeted by a check-out counter. Now in the entryway is an art glass replica waterfall, complete with audio effects of falling water, and seating area. Also noticeably absent from the location is its old stage.
   Other changes include:
   • New vinyl wall covers.
   • New carpet.
   • Marble stairs in the middle of the 3,200-square-foot facility, providing a sunken dining area.
   • Granite columns.
   • New light fixtures.
   • Nana walls — fully collapsible doors that allow for an open-air experience in the spring and summer.
   Also, the location’s outdoor deck, which overlooks the marina, South Hill and San Juan islands, has been raised so it is now level with the dining area.
   “We wanted it to be a higher-end facility with a homey feel,” said Anna Schiessl, Emerald Bay’s facilities coordinator. “We didn’t want people to feel like they were in a hotel. There’s going to be some people who will get here and not recognize it.”
   Schiessl said Faber Brothers Construction, the general contractor, completed the project on a tight, seven-week deadline, as some groups and organizations had booked reservations at the location for November and December more than a year ago.
   Fridays and Saturdays at the venue are nearly all reserved through the end of the year, Schiessl said. On average, some 75 to 100 events are held at the location annually, with the banquet room capable of accommodating 250 people and the deck an additional 50.
   Among the first events held last week were a silent auction for Planned Parenthood and the Bellingham Yacht Club’s Commodore’s Ball.
Schiessl said Emerald Bay has at least 10 years left on its lease of the space with the yacht club.
   In addition to sprucing up the old Sapphire Cove, Emerald Bay, the largest catering business in Bellingham, is also looking for property in Whatcom or Skagit county to build a conference center, she said.
   The company, which has around 50 employees, wants to grow its work force to 150 within the next three years.

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