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 Islands Information

Vancouver Island:
Five Fabulous BC Island Retreats
That Promise to Rekindle Romance

By Jane Cassie
Photos by Brent Cassie

When the warm weather fades and cool breezes kiss the night air, we're reminded that winter is just around the corner. Thoughts conjure up of sipping cider next to a flickering fire, curling up with a good book and snuggling under goose down with your significant other. Blend it with a candlelight dinner and a pampering spa, and you've created the perfect recipe for a romance. These are just a few of the ingredients in store when you escape the mundane and head to any one of these five fabulous BC Island retreats.

The Aerie
While perched on the Malahat's summit, just thirty minutes from Victoria, The Aerie lives up to its name by sharing sensational views with soaring eagles. From high above Finlayson Arm, the uninterrupted vista stretches over unfolding mountains and beyond to snow-capped Olympic peaks.

Embraced by gnarled arbutus trees and rock-hugging firs, the eighty-five acre world-renowned resort is picturesque to a fault. Mediterranean-style villas terrace its wooded hillside and meld harmoniously with their northwest surroundings. Breathtaking outlooks from private decks make their way into sumptuous interiors where every nuance of romance has been considered, from goose down duvets that drape canopy kings, to elevated window seats boasting oversize Jacuzzis.

Boardwalks lead from these heavenly havens past cascading waterfalls to other opportunities for togetherness. A luxurious indoor pool, sauna and hot tub offer ways to unwind, and for total rejuvenation and ultimate indulgence, the Wellness Centre is just steps away.

The palatial grounds host a fiesta of blooms and abundant vegetation that find their way into fresh cut bouquets and an awe-inspiring menu. By infusing French techniques with the local abundance of produce, game, and seafood, talented Executive Chef, Christophe Letard, and his team of culinary experts create award-winning gastronomical selections. As well as the well-acclaimed formal dining option, the recently opened Bonelli entices guests with its simpler fare during both lunch and dinner.

It's easy to see why The Aerie has been ranked "Best North American Resort" for the 2002 Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Award, and number one for food and overall resort in Canada on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List.

In addition to being a popular spot for soaring eagles, The Aerie is indeed a sanctuary for lovebirds as well!

P.O. Box 108 Malahat, British Columbia CANADA V0R 2L0
Tel: (250) 743-7115 TOLL FREE 1 800 518 1933
Fax: (250) 743-4766

Galiano Inn and Spa
This precious Galiano gem, just a stone's throw from the ferry terminal, sparkles in splendor from its shoreline home. West Coast cedar shingles cloak the cozy exterior and internal touches of terra cotta, wrought iron, and hand-trowelled walls imbibe a European feel throughout. Anchored at one end, adjacent to an ocean-facing conference hall, is The Madrona del Mar Spa, where sun-drenched treatment rooms boast an array of sensory pleasures that gently lull spa denizens into Zen-like bliss. Directly beneath, are luxury steam rooms, Vichy showers, a soothing outdoor hot tub and a unique sea mineral bath that provides the ultimate in relaxation.

Ten lavishly appointed suites share the same Active Pass vista and, if not for their West Coast titles and outlooks, they could pass as Riviera villas. Their sumptuous baths, ensconced in Italian-tile, host jet or soaker tubs, glass block showers, and twenty-four karate gold fixtures that gleam in polished decadence. Couples rediscover intimacy while being blissfully freed from television, and sweet dreams are assured, whether snuggling under down duvets that drape sleigh beds, French Provincial kings, or comfy canopied queens.

Bountiful breakfasts are included with each night's stay and, like other meals, are served in the oceanfront Atrevida Restaurant. Windowed walls wrap the view-boasting atrium to provide a perfect panorama for all fifty-six patrons. Beyond the grassy knoll, where a scenic promenade outlines the driftwood shore, nature provides the finest in entertainment. Dolphins and seals break the surface of sun-glinted waves. Eagles soar above and pods of whales spout from the deep. And when the sun rises from behind the silhouette of Mayne Island, guests enjoy one of the finest silent symphonies of color.

134 Madrona Drive Box S24-C47
Galiano Island, British Columbia V0N 1P0
Tel: 250.539.3388 Fax: 250.539.3338 Toll Free: 877.530.3939

Shoal Harbour Inn
Some getaways promise Old World elegance, while others entice with modern day comforts. At this seaside wonder in the quaint town of Sidney, BC, you have the choice of either.

Swathed with enchanting memorabilia, the Latch Heritage Mansion transports guests back to yesteryear's tranquil pace. The timber lodge, originally a retreat for BC's Lieutenant-Governor, has been lovingly restored to preserve its 1920's charm. Six affectionate guestrooms generate romantic aspirations with elegant linens, down duvets and impressive bathrooms, and paneled walls that warm their interiors extend to two cozy dining rooms on the main floor. Accented by candlelight, the inviting décor unites with classic country cuisine that has a sensational European influence. Created with fresh ingredients and locally harvested produce, the gastronomic options range from intimate dining to wine maker's dinners and six course meals.

Sharing this pristine piece of property and bridged by a canopy of Douglas firs is the adjacent Shoal Harbour Inn that emits a modern West Coast feel. Waves lap onto its front yard and skylights brighten the three-story atrium lobby where a grand staircase is a popular posing spot for many wedding parties. Hand-crafted interiors extend to twenty-two palatial suites offering fireplaces, Canadiana pine furnishings, soaker tubs and view-boasting balconies. All are equipped with kitchenettes, although breakfast is included with the stay at both hideaways.

Shoal Harbour Inn feels a world away from the busyness of nearby Victoria, and whether choosing to take a step back in time or to be surrounded by present day creature comforts, you won't be disappointed in either.

2328, Harbour Road, Sidney, B.C. V8L-2P8
Phone: 250-656-6622, Toll Free: 1-877-956-6622
Fax: 250-656-6212,


Sooke Harbour House
This world-acclaimed Inn beckons an inviting welcome from its ocean bluff Sooke lookout, just forty-five minutes outside of Victoria. Distinction flows from manicured grounds to the twenty-eight regionally inspired suites that pamper with private hot tubs, crackling fireplaces, exquisite artwork, sexy Jacuzzi tubs and two-person steam showers. Fresh cookies, fruit, and a flask of port wait to be shared. Serenity spa services, imbibing the elements of beach stone, garden herbs and the sea, can be relished in the comfort and privacy of the guest's havens. And as waves slap the rocky shore below, a picture postcard view stretches beyond Juan de Fuca Strait to the distant snow-topped Olympics.

While tidal processions create an ever-changing backdrop, the embracing gardens host over four hundred varieties of edible vegetation that inevitably find their way into delectable creations. It goes without saying that dining at Sooke Harbour House is an important part of the experience. Fine wines complimenting only the freshest, local ingredients are elements that give Sooke Harbour House the award-winning reputation it so well deserves. For those intrigued by the innovative offerings and in search of a culinary adventure, the Multicourse Tasting Menu promises to gratify even the most discerning palate. Fabulous full-course breakfasts, discreetly delivered to your door, and basket lunches to entice romantic picnics, are included during weekend and high season stays.

Sooke Harbour House has been a labor of love for passionate owners Frederique and Sinclair Philip. Their presence is evident, although unobtrusive, and their gracious hospitality is yet another fine quality that contributes to this getaway's consistent top honor rating.

1528 Whiffen Spit Road,
Sooke, British Columbia, Canada, V0S 1N0
Telephone: (250) 642-3421 Toll Free: 1-800-889-9688
Fax: (250) 642-6988 | Email:

The Wickaninnish
This exquisite West Coast retreat, just minutes from Tofino, is idyllically backed by evergreens and embraced by the untamed surf. As well as enticing sea buffs and nature lovers, it also mesmerizes storm-watching aficionados from November to March. During these months, blustery gales blow in from the north and churn up the angry sea to create record high rollers. They crash in turbulent descent against craggy rocks, driftwood clad shores and the outreaching jetty on Chesterman Beach where 'The Wick' is perfectly poised.

Windowed walls grace the inn's captivating lobby and invite this splendid panorama indoors. The elements of nature unite with elegance in custom designed furnishings, and attention to detail flows through to forty-six sumptuous guestrooms. While fireplaces flicker and deep soaker tubs soothe, their floor to ceiling windows, once again, frame Mother Nature in her making.

The Ancient Cedars Spa also pampers with heavenly offerings that are drawn from the ocean and earth. From massages to signature treatments like thalassotherapy and Soak-By-The-Sea hydrotherapy, they magically nourish the mind, body and soul.

Although this West Coast favorite has been honored with a wealth of past accolades, its most recent claims to fame include: top Canadian resort by both Conde Naste and the highly respected Zagat Survey, and North America's number one resort by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

While maintaining the Northwest elegance, delicious creations are presented at The Wick's award-winning Pointe Restaurant. Cantilevering beyond the shoreline, the post and beam treasure zooms in on golden sunsets while being kissed by ocean spray. And once again, the glory of nature embracing this seascape setting fuses with elegant surroundings and superb service. But then, what else would you expect while staying at The Wickaninnish!

Box 250
Tofino BC Canada V0R 2Z0
Toll Free: 1-800-333-4604

Jane and Brent Cassie are a travel writer/photographer team. Follow their other adventures on their website -