Checking In To Checking It Out

When you’re looking for a new community to call home, you want to spend time there first to get familiar with it, to see if it jibes with your lifestyle. Staying in singularly original, local hotels can provide a real feel for the place.

By Gail Johnson

Today more than ever, independently owned hotels in smaller cities and B.C. towns are finding ways to cater to locals and tourists. That makes them a great place to stay when you’re thinking of moving and checking our potential new communities. Here are a few such accommodations that are hotspots for visitors and residents alike. Always check hotel websites for any pandemic-related closure dates and times, travel restrictions or advisories.

You may not want to leave this luxury oceanfront boutique hotel, with its views of Juan de Fuca Strait and magnificent Mount Baker. Heated mineral pools look out to the Salish Sea, each room has a fireplace, galley kitchen, and floor-to-ceiling windows and in summer, seaside yoga classes take place on the terrace. FARO restaurant serves pizzas made in a Wood Stone pizza oven as well as seasonal share plates, creative cocktails, and local wines. There are suites for VIPs (Very Important Pets) and a B.C. Residents Rate.

A stay at this resort right on Osoyoos Lake is more like being in a condo than a hotel: rooms (from studio to three-bedroom size, plus town homes, some pet-friendly) have fully-equipped gourmet kitchens complete with china and stainless-steel cookware, plus a dining room and living room, private balcony, high-speed wireless, and more. Watermark offers extended stays and snowbird rentals, as well as preferred rates for golf, skiing, and wine-touring packages. After a full day exploring, you can relax in one of two hot tubs by the lakefront pool. Currently the restaurant is serving local farm-to-table fare Wednesday to Sunday, plus a Sunday brunch.

Situated in an old-growth forest on Vancouver Island’s eastern coast with sweeping views of the Strait of Georgia, the resort is renowned for the Pacific Mist Spa Hydropath. The guided experience draws on the ancient healing properties of water, taking you through sandstone sculpted caves, from a mineral pool to a waterfall massage to a tidal bath, as wafts of aromatic steam soothe and restore. The Serenity Gardens are a place to stroll or sit amid streams and greenery and through January, the Winter Light Display makes the lush grounds sparkle. Locals love the Starfish Studio yoga program, with sessions by candles and firelight in cooler weather. There are two restaurants to choose from: AQUA Bistro & Wine Bar and Ocean7.

Halfmoon Bay is the home of this peaceful getaway, which has accommodations ranging from sumptuous tent-house suites (think glamping with rainforest shower, hydrotherapy tub with an ocean view, fireplace and a comfy king size bed) to refurbished 1950s log cabins to lodge suites with views of Malaspina Strait. Yoga, hiking, and biking are all offered, as is daily access to Thormanby Island, where you’ll find a long stretch of sandy beach. The all-day restaurant has a daily happy hour.

With roots dating back to the 1920s, when the hotspot tucked within the Selkirk and Monashee mountain ranges was an integral railway hub, this heritage hotel is one of the oldest family-owned and operated hotels in Canada. Modern rooms retain historic charm, and no two are alike. A fully-equipped fitness centre, a hot tub and a steam room help you maintain your fitness routine while away from home, and breakfast is complimentary. Check out the B.C. wines and microbrews at the on-site 112 restaurant.

You can live large here: rooms range from 700 to 2,400 square feet. Featuring five-piece chef-style kitchens with wine fridges along with living and dining areas, large balconies and high-end furnishings, these accommodations also have garden, mountain or lake vistas. A package for B.C. residents comes with a complimentary view upgrade, so you can take in the scenery after a day of recharging with a deep-tissue massage at the spa, or in nice weather playing tennis, going out on a stand-up paddleboard on Okanagan Lake or hitting the lakeside putting green. While the onsite restaurant is temporarily closed, The Modest Butcher at nearby Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery in the new West Kelowna hotspot.

Posted in Winter 2020