Left Coast Luxury

By: Ron Kirstein

Left Coast Luxury

After a 45-min boat ride, our BC Ferry docks at Otter Bay on Pender Island, or the "Penders," as the locals say.  The two Penders (north and south islands) were once joined by a wide neck of land known as the Indian Portage. A narrow canal was dredged in 1903 to benefit steamship travel through the Gulf Islands. The islands remained separated until a one-lane bridge was built in 1955.

The Penders have a mild climate, lots of parks and hiking trails, and almost forty beach access points. South Pender has about 10% of the population, has fewer roads and lots of natural unspoiled vegetation. North Pender has most of the population. There is no town center, but there is a small shopping area (Driftwood Centre) with a gas station, restaurants, grocery store, drug store, liquor store, bank, and bakery.

We drive the 15 km from Hope Bay to the Poet's Cove Resort and Spa. We meet the super-friendly staff at the reception desk. "Why is the resort called Poet's Cove?" I ask.  Over the next two days, no one can give me an answer, but the stunning architecture, interior design, and the serenity of the resort make it easy to understand.

As we explore the resort, we find solid wood, granite, and soft colours blended together perfectly, making for an overall feeling of warmth and comfort. There are three types of accommodation at the resort: Villas, cottages, and Lodge rooms. Each of these is tastefully decorated with a view of the Marina and Bedwell Harbour. It's easy to see why any poet worth her weight in salt would find this beautiful, romantic, and comfortable resort truly inspirational.

Going the extra mile is evident in every detail, from heated bathroom floors, solid wood doors, bedside fireplaces, granite counter tops, and private hot tubs, to welcome cards, chocolate truffles, bathroom toiletries, and folded towels. Our cottage has a deck heater, barbeque, and hot tub.

It feels like someone really cares.

Our resort stay would not be a resort stay without a treatment at the Susurrus ("whispering sound") Spa, so we book ourselves in for a massage and a pedicure. The Spa is spacious with six treatment rooms. Outside on the deck is a sandstone steam cave complete with a large waterfall and a Jacuzzi at the bottom. Service choices include facials, body wraps, manicures, pedicures, massage, and beauty treatments. When we emerge afterwards, we can see the contentment on each other's face.

After a dip in our private hot tub, we spend a restful night in our cottage overlooking the marina. We awake the next morning and head for breakfast at the Aurora Restaurant, a luxurious dining room with an attentive staff. The breakfast is excellent, serving some of the best "bennies" on the west coast! Later that night we return for dinner. We follow our waiter Andres' suggestions and are greatly rewarded. As we sit in front of a warm fire sipping red wine with Andres serving us excellent food, it's easy to tell we were at a first class resort! Everything about Poets Cove is first class.

A visit to the activity centre surprises us with what is available. Whale watching, eco-tours, vineyard tours, fishing, sailing, scuba diving and kayaking. The resort has two swimming pools and a well-equipped fitness centre as well.

To complete our visit to the Penders, we visit a number of local businesses. The first is Blood Star Gallery. We'd noticed Susan Taylor's artwork in the dining lounge at Poet's Cove. Her gallery is on the south end of Pender Island and has incredible views of Mount Baker. Paintings, drawings, and folk art by Susan Taylor and Frank Ducote are inspired by the sea and island surroundings.

We check out Sahhali Oceanfront Luxury Bed and Breakfast and meet new owners Frank and Michelle Hiebert. They show us their newest renovations to their spectacular accommodations high on Oak Bluff!

Carol Hoffmann at Ferndale B&B is most gracious to show us her place even though she has a full house of guests. Spacious bedrooms and a comfy guest lounge are the highlights of this B&B. 

A Place of Your Own B&B is operated by Ken and Jean Daley, very friendly hosts. They offer a private suite on the lower floor with a private entrance overlooking Navy Channel. It has a deck near the water for kayak or canoe storage. It's a great place to kayak as it faces a protected channel where Mayne Island. 

At Renaissance Gallery you can buy unique homemade jewelry and search for unusual antiques. Peter & Tessa Emmings' Arcadia by the Sea has a heated pool, hot tub, tennis court, and a few small cabins. A great place for a family vacation. At Hope Bay Marina we find Pender Island Kayak. This is a great little protected spot to launch a kayak adventure. 

After our day of exploring the Penders, we dine at the Islander Restaurant on North Pender near the Ferry Dock. This elegant restaurant is in a renovated house on the water and it serves exceptional food. Georgina, the owner, is a first-rate chef and superb hostess. During the off-season she makes a real effort to bring the community together. Some of her events include a "guest chef" night, "starving artist's night", and a pajama party. Visiting tourists are always welcome. Our meal is delicious and the deserts are divine. 

The next day we head for the ferry dock to go back to Victoria. For years I've been hearing about the hamburgers served at "The Stand," at the Ferry Dock. I try one. Believe me, I am not disappointed. 

P.S. In case you don't knowFree Reprint Articles, the west coast of Canada is often referred to (in jest) as the "left coast."

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