Most of us get to take advantage of a 3 day weekend over Labor Day. If you’re like me and have put off getting out of town all summer (other than business), then why not consider hopping on up to Vancouver Island, home to Victoria, for a little R&R?
Victoria is quickly becoming one of my favorite local destinations. It’s close and has a ton of activities to take advantage of, including outdoor and indoor fun.
On my most recent excursion, Jon and I took B.C. Ferries from Vancouver to the island. This being my first time on a Canadian ship, I couldn’t get over the difference between the quality and number of amenities offered compared with those of the Washington State Ferries: a wide number of seating options and configurations; a gift shop; and a fully stocked self-service café. On the return trip we took advantage of the quiet in the Seawest Lounge ($10 Canadian/person) where cell phones are restricted, and the food at the Pacific Buffet that includes a 180 degree view of the water with the mountains as a backdrop.
The folks up at the Aerie Resort & Spa had just remodeled and reopened (earlier this year) and invited us as their guests. The resort is located about 30 minutes from Victoria. Though there was a bit of traffic (due to construction) heading out of Victoria on a Friday afternoon, it was a beautiful drive up through the mountains to get there.
On Saturday, we joined another couple at the Villa Cielo, a fully furnished residence which sits atop a hill just a short walk or drive up a private road from the Aerie. We spent the afternoon under the instruction of Chef Castro with a full-on nearly three-hour cooking class. I’m one with limited (but growing) cooking skills and was astonished that after this short amount of time, we were able to whip up a menu of appetizers that was more beautiful and tasty than anything I’ve ever prepared after a FULL DAY of cooking. We were even provided with the recipes!
After honing our culinary skills, Jon and I relaxed for nearly two hours with a couple’s massage class where we each took turns learning how to best massage each other. Our petite instructor, Chloe, was well up to the challenge of providing (and instructing us in) a strong and deep massage.
The food, which we enjoyed both in the dining room and as room service, was no less than spectacular. Seriously. Five star.
Chef Castro, as we learned during the cooking class, is extremely selective when it comes to his ingredients. Whenever possible, local items are chosen over imported. Fresh vegetables from local gardens and fish from B.C. waters are incorporated into his tasty meals.
Buddha adds to the peacefulness
Before returning to the ferry on Sunday afternoon, we enjoyed High Tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
With the economy in the state that it is, there are deals to be had everywhere. Whether you choose a getaway that’s close to home or one that’s a plane ride away, do treat yourself to a much needed break over the upcoming holiday weekend!
Where ever your travels take you, ENJOY!
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