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Now Accepting Applications
for 2024 Apprentice Start Dates


Does the idea of living on a remote island in the Salish Sea—surrounded by parks, farms and coastal beauty—inspire you? 

Do you want to work with a group of like-minded people and continue your own personal and professional development? 

Do you want to be a part of living history and help revitalize an iconic landmark that has been serving guests for over 100 years?

Are you tired of working in restaurants and hotels where the chef and general manager barely know your name and could care less where your career takes you?

If you are tired of just having a job; and are ready to embark on an educational adventure, then The Orcas Hotel apprenticeship might be for you. 

Our Model

The Orcas Hotel is a business model unlike any you have experienced. We pride ourselves in having a very small, tight-knit team that takes part in all aspects of the operation. From turning rooms and creating fresh floral arrangements, to participating in menu development and cleaning the grease trap, we all participate in every element of the business. Each and every member of our team—including the chef and owners—wash dishes, clean bathrooms, tend to the grounds and assist with every detail of the operation. Because we work together so closely, we also take great interest and personal responsibility in the success of each member of our team, both here on Orcas and throughout their career. 

Our Education and Professional Development 

We strongly encourage all of our team members to actively pursue their goals and to develop the skills that will best serve them in the future.  We provide a private library with hundreds of cookbooks, hospitality management books and resources on everything from foraging to farm poetry to sustainability. We encourage our team to pursue stages, classes and other forms of continuing education. Once you are ready, we are happy to arrange stages at Michelin rated restaurants and Relais Chateaux resorts using our industry network. As part of your education we will create a personalized development program to help you focus and improve. An example of a grid for an aspiring chef can be found here:

Collaborative Management and Mentorship- 

Some people thrive in  rigid environments where there are strict rules and and standards for all operations.  This is not that kind of environment.  The hotel operates a collaborative management style where all team members contribute to running the operation and there is rarely a single way to do something.   For example, there is a common team goal of making a great latte, but one team member might focus on pouring beautiful latte art while another simply makes sure the milk is the right temperature and consistency.  By giving team members the autonomy to self manage their own performance and initiatives, they are given insights in to how they might perform as an owner-operator.  Many team members bring areas of expertise that they enjoy sharing with other members of the crew.  It is not uncommon for someone to become an expert/mentor in a certain area and share information and training with other people on the team throughout the course of their experience.  Everyone on the team is given the opportunity to contribute to the development of the hotel; whether it be designing a new cocktail program or revising the guest check-in process, we encourage our team to help evolve the business and take ownership over what they are passionate about.


One of the biggest obstacles for people who want to work on the island is housing. Just as with vacation destinations around the world, many of the rentals on the island have been converted to vacation rentals, making it almost impossible for hospitality staff to find reasonably priced housing. We understand that our team is the heart and soul of our operation, that's why we have created a living space that helps keep our team inspired. The property is a National Historic Landmark with  barn and farmhouse along with a couple of tiny homes and geodesic dome tent. The farmstead was once the center of an 180-acre apple orchard and a dozen heirloom apple trees—which represent one of each of the island's original varietals—still produce fruit we use in our kitchens.
Today the farmstead is our own home as well as a primary home for our team. We have five individual units that share a common bathhouse, a hot tub, sauna, outdoor kitchen, firepit, lawns and a recreation room appointed with a billiards table, musical instruments and (almost always) great late night junk food. It's a creative space for our team to relax and be inspired. The property is conveniently located just a few minutes walk from North Beach and the town of Eastsound, and is a short 15-minute drive to the hotel. Each member of the community pays a well-below-market rent and contributes to the upkeep of the grounds and facilities. 

At this time our on-site housing options cannot accommodate additional family members or pets. 

Compensation and Benefits 

Our goal is to provide a sustainable employment opportunity so that each team member can live and work on Orcas Island. The base hourly rate and housing assistance allow most individuals to pay for essential living costs and enjoy a good quality of life on the island. Currently our apprentices make between $22-28/hr inclusive of base hourly rate and service fees. Most positions at The Orcas Hotel are designed for people looking for an educational adventure and a stepping stone for career advancement. We believe that our 18-month experience working at the hotel will provide a practical level of education that surpasses most culinary and hospitality schools, as well as professional connections, without incurring student debt. We offer a daily family meal for each employee as well as family discounts on rooms and dining. We are currently unable to provide insurance, but aspire to offer it in the future. 

Application Process

We are actively accepting applications for our 18 month apprenticeships. Please keep in mind that due to the nature of our business and small team that all positions will participate in all departments, even if they have a specific base position.  The program is demanding and will often push you out of your comfort zone.  The work is physically and mentally challenging.  One day you might be creating beautiful specials for the cafe, the next you will be stocking hundreds of pounds of ingredients and mopping floors.  One morning you will be perfecting your latte pour and that afternoon you might be learning to clear drain lines and painting fences.  We believe that no task is beyond your skillset, or beneath your abilities. The apprenticeship is far from glamorous, but reflective of the realities of running a small family business. 
Our current team plays an active role in interviewing and reviewing all candidates. The first step in the application process is to fill out the online application. Once we review the application and determine that you are a good fit, we will schedule a phone or video interview.  We do our very best to carefully review and respond to each application.  This year we will be hiring only two apprentices - Last year we received over 500 applications. 

The Fine Print

We ask that each candidate to our apprenticeship commit to an 18-month agreement and that interns commit to completing the summer season. This timeline enables each team member to learn and contribute in a meaningful way, and for us to benefit from the training we invest in you. The Orcas Hotel and Donohue House are quite literally our family home; as such, we ask that each of our team members demonstrate exemplary behavior both at work and as they interact with the Orcas community. Each successful candidate will be asked to authorize a background check. Limited housing is available, but we are unable to accommodate pets or additional family members in staff housing. 

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