Revelling in a stunning ocean view—with my skin still tingling from last night’s eucalyptus steam—I feel like the busy world is, well, worlds away. I enjoy a refreshing glass of water infused with cucumber, strawberry and mint, and think of my only goal for the day: soaking in the outdoor mineral pools. Touted as a top luxury resort in the Pacific Northwest, and a destination known to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit, this is the Oak Bay Beach Hotel.
Oak Bay Beach: A Hotel with History
Located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in Oak Bay, BC, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel has been an integral part of the neighbourhood for more than 90 years. Built in 1927, the original structure was destroyed by fire a mere three years after opening. An exact replica was rebuilt and the Oak Bay Beach Hotel quickly became “the place to be” and a regular hang out for locals and guests alike.
In 1972, the hotel was bought by Winnipeg businessmen Bruce Walker and Glenn Anderson, who took the hotel through another two decades of success. Continuing the family business and legacy, Bruce’s son, Kevin Walker, and his wife Shawna, purchased it in 1995.
By 2006, the (now) 70-year-old building had reached its limit. Even with extensive renovations and upgrades it was evident that the aged building was failing and a rebuild was necessary to take the hotel to the next level. Careful to preserve the look and feel that so many had come to cherish, the owners were dedicated to preserving the key features of the hotel such as stained glass windows, old bricks and beams, classic furniture and the original entrance doors.
With a meticulous vision to reach, it took six years to complete and reopen. Designed as a modern take on the old Tudor-style manor, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel has been completely reconstructed, featuring highlights of the previous building throughout and remaining on the waterfront property, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where it all began. It is estimated that 95 per cent of the materials were reused and re-housed in the new building, and those original entrance doors now lead you to Kate’s Café, a quaint little coffee shop inside the hotel.
The Oak Bay Beach Hotel Feel
Tucked between the Oak Bay Marina and the Victoria Golf Club, a darling seaside drive or walk from the hotel will lead you through the community of Oak Bay where heritage homes line the streets and boutique shops, cafes and galleries give you all the local flavor you could want.
Maintaining the charm and history of its roots, reclaimed pieces of the old hotel are seen throughout. Some of the notable features include the original bricks, fireplace and hearth in the front room, stain glass windows at the Snug Pub and tasting room, and of course, the dark wooden beams that bring the English Manor style all together.
The iconic Snug Pub is a classic English pub that serves both local craft beer and traditional pub favourites while overlooking Oak Bay Islands Ecological Reserve. Seeing a lot of action over the years. this venue has been a neighbourhood staple since 1954, when it was one of the only pubs in the university district. The menu offers everything from seasonal fare, to good ol’ English fish and chips.
Next door, the Dining Room will seat a cozy 34 people, granting an intimate dining experience with personal attention. The cuisine here highlights regional specialties, and if you don’t finish your bottle of BC wine, you can take it back to your room to enjoy along with the views from your patio.
Original, unique pieces of art work from local galleries are on display throughout the entire hotel. Stunning pieces reflecting nature and beauty from artists all over the world. Little nooks are located around every corner, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee, quiet time or an intimate glass of wine.
And no matter how impressive the features are inside, it’s the view outside that is the real show stopper. From the Grand Lobby, you can take in a view of the seaside gardens and mineral pools with the stunning Haro Strait in the distance.
Boathouse Spa & Baths
The Boathouse Spa & Baths were created with the intention of renewing your body, relaxing your mind and refreshing your spirit in an environment inspired by the natural world.
“Travellers have a tendency to bring their stress with them,” says spa manager Tina Lyons. “We encourage practicing a ‘digital-detox’—leaving your phone, your emails, or any personal stressors behind and instead focusing on relaxing your mind. Our proximity to the ocean allows guests to experience a simply serene atmosphere.”
With wellness in mind, literally, the whole-body retreat is becoming more of a focal point than ever before. High season features yoga in the Seaside Garden, and coming soon, outdoor massage tables at the seaside. Menu options reflect more plant-based food options, fresh seasonal ingredients and low-proof cocktails.
This past February they hosted their first annual Wellness Weekend, a three-day retreat that lead participants through five in-depth modules on mindset, movement, nutrition, sleep and connection. Next year’s event is already planned for January 31 to Feb 2, 2020.
The mineral baths and restorative waters are set in the natural surroundings of open sky and coastal air to help renew balance and wellbeing. With stunning views of the Pacific Northwest and Mount Baker as a backdrop, indulge all your senses by enjoying a meal and a libation from the Boathouse Kitchen.
With a variety of meeting spaces suiting everything from cozy and quaint gatherings to red carpet soirées, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel hosts a series of annual events.
Upcoming this summer is the highly anticipated Wine Maker’s Long Table Dinner Series. Each evening begins with a reception in the Seaside Gardens, followed by a multi-course family style dinner inside the Grand Lobby. Each night a different BC wine is showcased by the guest winemaker or winery owner.
Find out more about the Winemaker’s Long Table Dinner Series and other exciting events hosted at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel here.
For more information on this special getaway visit: Oak Bay Beach Hotel 1175 Beach Dr. Victoria, BC.