Are you craving a vacation away, but don’t want to venture too far from home? I’ve got the perfect place for you and it’s just a quick ferry ride away.
Set in 22-acres of arbutus and fir forest nestled beside the ocean; Tigh-Na-Mara is a little slice of Vancouver Island paradise. This picturesque rustic resort with direct access to three kilometers of sandy Rathtrevor Beach will recharge your batteries, help you connect with nature and spark up a little romance.
Last weekend, Jason and I had the pleasure of spending two whole blissful, relaxing days at Tigh-Na-Mara — a getaway we dubbed our second honeymoon.
With a 2.5 year old and a 4.5 year old at home, it can be difficult to go on a kid-free vacation; especially one that involves leaving the girls for an extensive period of time or draining our limited bank account. However, it’s so important to invest that one-on-one time with your spouse — time that doesn’t involve diaper duty, toddler tantrums or meltdowns over who gets to go first, press the button, play with the ‘prettier Barbie,’ etc.
We both felt a little giddy and a little guilty as we boarded the ferry to Nanaimo to take refuge for the weekend from our parental duties. However, the latter faded as soon as we opened the door to our new temporary abode.
I just had one word — wow! Followed by a ”I’m never going home!!!” Topped off by a full-on dive into the king-size bed –one I wouldn’t have to share with two pint-sized princesses for an entire weekend.
Situated in a three-story log-style condominium, our Deluxe Studio Suite featured the most incredible ocean view from our private patio overlooking the Georgia Strait and distant Coast Mountains. There was also a Jacuzzi tub with jets in the room, sky-high ceilings, a full kitchen, a gas fireplace and some very delicious treats waiting for us in the fridge. How did they know I LOVE brie? The cheese platter paired perfectly with the bottle of Gold Proscco we enjoyed on our patio while watching the sun set. And did I mention the king-sized bed? You can actually see how comfortable it is before you even lay down.
After settling into our suite, we headed over to resort’s famous spa — the Grotto Spa. Voted #1 in Western Canada, this oasis is like no other spa we’ve ever been to. Jason and I indulged in the Winter Escape package, which included a one-hour treatment of our choice, a dip in the detoxifying Mineral Pool, a hot paraffin treatment for our feet, the chance to unwind in the Relaxation Lounge and the ultimate dining experience — Endless Tapas at the Treetop Tapas & Grill.
Designed to emulate a natural stone grotto, this 2,500 square foot warm water pool is infused with natural minerals and trace elements which help to detoxify the body. It’s so quiet and peaceful, I had a hard time leaving.
Fortunately, all that floating around and my incredible facial had helped me to work up quite the appetite. Next it was time for our Endless Tapas experience. While our waitress informed us that not everyone is able to make it through the 13 courses, we were up for the challenge.
The Treetop Tapas & Grill is reserved exclusively for robed spa guests, which certainly takes the guess-work out of wondering what to wear. We were served the most amazing seasonal tapas menu, which focuses on West Coast inspired cuisine designed by the expert culinary team. With fresh local seafood, spa-inspired anti-oxidant cuisine and delectable desserts, the Endless Tapas dining was like nothing we’ve ever experienced before.
Speaking of dining, the Cedar’s Restaurant & Lounge is where we enjoyed another amazing meal on our second night at the resort. First, we visited the newly renovated lounge that seamlessly blends a modern upscale environment with that cozy, rustic signature style that puts Tigh-Na-Mara on the map and in the hearts of everyone who stays there. Both of us tried their salted rosemary gin & tonic cocktail — it was a truly delicious way to unwind after a day of sight-seeing.
After finishing a cocktail or two, we headed over the restaurant and were seated right by the window. A thick fog had begun to roll in and surround the lush green foliage– it created an ethereal and dreamy view that was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. I seriously felt like I was in a dream — one I never wanted to wake up from.
It was going to be tough to impress us after the wonderful dining experience from the night before, but the award-winning culinary team didn’t disappoint. The menu offers plenty of new twists on your old favourites, guaranteeing freshness and using local whenever possible.
To start, we shared the Sweet Onion & Ale Soup with balsamic Cipollini onions, Vancouver Island Brewery Honey Ale and smoked Boerenkaas cheese crouton. It was so aromatic and flavourful — the perfect way to tease our taste buds for what was to come.
Jason enjoyed the Cedars Pepper Steak with buttermilk smashed potatoes, crispy onions and green peppercorn cream, while I feasted on Braised Boneless Short Ribs with confit shallots, buttermilk smashed potatoes and green peppercorn cream. Every dish that made its way to our table was piping hot, complex in flavour and absolutely amazing.
In addition to all the dining and relaxing, we also had a chance to spend some time outdoors in the sunshine discovering Parksville and the rest of the amenities that Tigh-Na-Mara has to offer. All-in-all, I’d say that our trip was one incredible second honeymoon. I can definitely see why so many couples tie the knot on this picture-perfect property.
For more information, visit www.tigh-na-mara.com