Senior and Assisted Living Feels More Like Home at Tacoma’s Weatherly Inn

Weatherly Inn
Weatherly Inn greets visitors and residents with beautiful foliage.

Weatherly Inn is one of several assisted living facilities in the Tacoma area, but there are a few things that set this facility apart from others. Owned and operated by the Bunn family since 1989, Weatherly Inn puts a focus on stellar customer service, customization for their residents, and going above and beyond in all things, from staffing to décor to care. The result is a truly unique place — one that feels like a home, yet offers all the nursing care its residents need. It’s a place with aesthetic appeal around every corner and kindness at its very core.

Driving up to Weatherly Inn, the building does not look as large as it really is — it appears to be two stories, but there’s a garden level tucked into a hillside that isn’t visible from the front. There’s room for about 140 residents and just about as many staff members that rotate in and out 24 hours a day. Upon arrival, what you will notice are rhododendrons and other foliage and the quiet atmosphere. As you walk inside the front door, you’ll be greeted by friendly desk staff in a lobby that feels more like a cozy hotel than an assisted living facility. There’s no medical equipment. No antiseptic scent. Instead, there’s a chandelier, a bookshelf with sofas, and carpeted floors.

Weatherly Inn
General manager, Alex Bunn, with his family.

“We want people to feel like this is their home,” said General Manager, Alex Bunn. “We think we do this differently. We’re a close-knit community. We make it a family.”

With just two locations — one in Kent and one in Tacoma — the business has not expanded far, staying local and within the family. Alex’s parents, Larry R. Bunn and Nancy Bunn Munro, founded Weatherly Inn with a hands-on approach. Larry served as the general contractor and operations manager for more than 15 years, while Nancy served as interior designer — a role she continues to be involved in to this day. Alex took the reins of the Tacoma location in 1999, and has served as president and CEO over both locations since 2012.

“My family got into this in the late 1950s,” said Alex. “My grandparents ran nursing homes. And then in the early 80s, they sold out of the nursing homes and got into retirement living. When we built the Weatherly Inn in the late 80s, it was bridging the gap between nursing homes and retirement communities. We had a lot of people who couldn’t stay in that retirement setting any longer, and didn’t want to live in a nursing home. That’s where assisted living sprang out of. Now I think assisted living is well understood, but it was a brand new thing in the late 80s.”

Weatherly Inn
The Weatherly Inn’s dining room feels like a restaurant, complete with centerpieces and menus.

Weatherly Inn continues to offer a broad range of services to bridge that gap — there are many independent living residents who come and go with their own cars, there are assisted living residents, and there’s also memory care. Independent and assisted living residents live in one area of the building, while memory care residents live in a secured area on the garden level. Weatherly Inn also provides day and respite care for up to 30 days.

All residents enjoy three meals a day in the dining area as well as access to a café, housekeeping, laundry, included utilities, and contracted services right in the same building. These include a massage therapist and two beauty salons — one for the independent and assisted living area as well as one exclusively for memory care residents. Medical transportation is offered five days a week so residents can get to their medical appointments, and there are also nurses and doctors who come in to see residents, though, most continue to go see their own doctors offsite.

A special perk is the food served in the dining room. The Weatherly Inn aims to use the freshest ingredients, rather than canned or processed foods. The wait staff comes in to serve meals rather than residents waiting in a line. The dining room itself feels like a restaurant with menus and centerpieces on the tables and a warm atmosphere. There’s a piano at its center where there’s often live entertainment.

Weatherly Inn
There are photos of residents on the walls throughout hallways and public spaces.

Residents can also expect a full activities and events schedule, including both on and offsite activities. On any given day, anyone interested can join in a scenic drive, a shopping trip, venturing up to Seattle for a play or a jaunt off to a casino. There’s plenty going on right in the building, too, with rounds of Jeopardy, Wii bowling nights, and themed meals for special occasions and holidays. Each year, Easter brunch is always a big deal, but hotdogs and popcorn for sports games, barbecue for Memorial Day or other themed meals are all in the lineup too.

Many people looking to figure out if Weatherly Inn is a good fit turn to day and respite care, which allows a sort of trial run for the potential resident. Day and respite care residents can stay anywhere between one and 30 days (or even more — Weatherly Inn is all about customization), for the opportunity to try out the rooms, services and other amenities.

Floor plans range from 350-square-foot studios to one-bedrooms to two-bedroom units. Many residents live alone, while others come with their significant other. Some couples live together, but it’s also an option to live apart if one has memory care needs and the other wants to be just an elevator ride away. A special bonus — the Weatherly Inn often has empty rooms for visiting family members, too, so they can also stay close by.

Weatherly Inn
On left, Alex’s mother, Nancy Bunn Munro, and her husband. On right, Alex’s father, Larry R. Bunn, and his wife. Nancy and Larry founded Weatherly Inn together in 1989. Photo courtesy: Weatherly Inn.

“We’re small and we’re in this for the long run,” said Alex. “We work with people. We treat people individually and really focus on complete customization. We have policies absolutely, but it’s about the person. We have people who have failed in other communities, but they can live here because we work very hard to make their stay successful and accommodate them. We have the staffing to meet their needs.”

For more information, visit Weatherly Inn’s website or call 253-752-8550 (Tacoma) or 253-630-7496 (Kent).