From the outside it looked like a Scandinavian Motel 6, all low-slung, buckwheat-colored cedar and wrap-around parking lot. But any semblance to a budget chain disappeared when I walked into the lobby of Vancouver Island’s five-star Brentwood Bay Lodge & Spa
“Would you care for a welcome flute of sparkling wine?” queried the front desk clerk as I plopped down my bags and stood gawking at the soaring ceilings, sleek paneled walls, lush oil paintings and picture perfect bay view.
The wine was cool, locally crafted (Zannatta Winery) and delicious, as was just about everything else at this year-and-a-half old Small Luxury Hotel of the World. Offering a total of 33 spacious suites, there’s a romantic intimacy about the place. Generous, double-jetted bathtubs, private balconies, stone hearths, DVD entertainment units, complimentary high-speed Internet access, free phone calls across North America and a mini-bar stocked with local wines and beers made me feel as pampered as an heiress.
My Essence of Life Spa experience completed the fantasy. I opted for the seaweed pedicure, starting with a soak of sea lettuce, sea salt and micronized seaweed. Then came a slather of Pacific Ocean mud and laminaria lotion. “We embrace our backyard here,” said my esthetician, explaining that all the products were Outer Coast Seaweed, using the mineral-rich harvest scooped from the waters of nearby town Sooke. My feet were dipped in paraffin and after a few minutes the hot wax came off like socks. Toes tender and soft as pansy petals, I was ready for a little pearly pink polish.
With shimmering tootsies peeking from a pair of strappy sandals, I was ready for dinner in the lodge’s elegant Arbutus Grille. Sticking to the locally grown theme, I ordered Executive Chef Alain Léger’s latest creation, the Haida Feast Dish. Served on a red cedar platter, it consisted of sumptuous BC spot prawns, Quadra Island mussels, melt-in-your-mouth candied salmon, snowy-white Dungeness crab, sushi-quality BC smoked Albacore tuna, succulent wild smoked spring salmon, BC harvested oysters and delicious, chewy Manila clams. Dessert was a heart-stopping banana cream pie.
Who cares if I wasn’t really a poor little rich girl? I sure felt like one by the time I left.