For getting away from it all, few retreats
in North America can match Hastings House Country House Hotel on
Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. The hotel is a 22-acre
paradise of Tudor cottages and California-style hillside suites
tucked away among sprawling, manicured lawns; carefully attended
flower gardens; rolling meadows; and splendid sheltering trees.
Island is a dot of pine forests and lakes off the west coast
shoreline of British Columbia that is home to a unique community of
organic farmers, artists and craftsmen, including a daunting woman
who awakens before dawn to bake artisan breads in a 12,000-pound
brick oven fired by fir, cedar, alder or maple.
Set high above
picturesque Ganges Harbour, where graceful sailboats share the
littoral with single-engine float planes and lumbering ferries from
the nearby mainland and Vancouver Island, Hastings House is at once
within easy reach of the mainland yet a world away from the
workaday hustle of everyday life.
The property is
owned by the energetic Bonny O'Connor and her enterprising husband,
Jerry Parks, who see themselves as proprietors rather than
landlords. They purchased the place in 1995 after enjoying
countless stays here as dedicated and appreciative paying
which was built in 1939 to replicate an 11th century manor house in
Sussex, England, comprises 18 luxury suites, many of which are in
restored, historical structures.
One of them, the
Farmhouse, is a two-story, harborfront affair built around the turn
of the 20th century. Another, the Post, was Salt Spring Island's
first Hudson's Bay trading post, which now, in its present
incarnation, features French doors that open on a vista of the
I stayed in the
Manor West, a spacious, two-bedroom suite on the second floor of
the Manor House, whose attributes included an unusually comfortable
queen bed, leaded-glass windows whose iron frames were fashioned by
a local blacksmith (as were the door hinges), an
alcove with room to sit three persons before a stone fireplace,
fresh-cut flowers, a walk-in closet with mini-fridge, a large bath
and random-width fir flooring secured by black boat
accommodations include six, new Hillside suites, the
wheelchair-accessible Meadow two-room suite and the three-bedroom
Churchill Cottage, which offers one queen, one twin/king and a
single twin bedroom as well as a kitchen.
access throughout the property is in the offing, I was told. There
is a system in place now, but it is all but ineffective except in a
cozy, common lounge/entertainment space called the Snug. In-room TV
is available only in the Meadow and the Churchill
All stays at
Hastings House include the delivery of a morning wake-up hamper
containing fresh-baked muffins, coffee or tea and amenities such as
plush robes, a full English breakfast, mountain bikes if desired,
firewood for in-room fireplaces and stoves and transportation to
and from the ferry or float plane.
is to opt for the float plane: It is loads of fun, and the trip
from Vancouver only takes about 20 minutes.
Dinner is not
included in the tariff for accommodations, which ranges from $455
for a standard room to $800 for a top-of-the-line Premier unit
(single or double occupancy). But Hastings House offers a number of
packages that feature gourmet feasts in the property's wonderful
Manor dining room.
Swiss-trained executive chef Marcel Kauer creates menus that vary
daily depending upon the best available local produce, including
tender Salt Spring Island lamb, locally caught seafood and organic
fruits and vegetables grown on island farms.
called the Bundle of Romance, can be added to any three-night stay
and includes chocolates and champagne on arrival, a three-course
dinner for two, a picnic lunch, breakfast and afternoon tea each
In addition, the
plan features two one-hour massages at the property's spa and a
copy of the new Hastings House cookbook.
The Bundle of
Romance package costs about $425 and is available from March 16,
when Hastings House reopens from its winter break, to Nov.
Hastings House is
a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
information on Hastings House, visit www.hastingshouse.com or www.slh.com.
To contact reporter Joe Rosen, send e-mail to [email protected].