As the weeks went by, our excitement was rising. I couldn’t wait to pack my bags and head to Cowichan for four whole nights of fun and romance with Jason.
I packed a juicy novel, an assortment of outfits that would take me from daytime adventure to cozy candlelit evenings and a jam-packed itinerary with all the hidden gems and hot spots we would go. This was our chance to really slow down and savour life.
Two things I wouldn’t be taking on this getaway: our darling daughters, Molly, 8, and Zoe, 6. Did I feel guilty?
Nana graciously offered to watch them and our two dogs so that we could indulge in a luxurious much-need four-day break A.L.O.N.E.
And just like that, the big day was upon us. We kissed our babies goodbye at school drop-off and ran away from our responsibilities to Cowichan one frosty Friday morning back in December. It was our first time stepping foot on this part of the island… would it be our last?
Goodbye ‘Rain-Couver,’ Hello Sunshine
With just a 35-minute drive from Langley to the Helijet terminal in Vancouver and an 18- minute flight, we arrived in Naniamo in well under an hour. (READ ABOUT OUR FLIGHT).
Unlike our depature city – ‘Raincouver’—Cowichan boasts the warmest year-round temperatures in Canada.
In fact it is dubbed ‘the warm land’ from the First Nations Coast Salish, who named the area Quw’utsun’ or Cowichan, meaning “land warmed by the sun.”
Aside from the mild weather, Winter and early Spring are quiet seasons on the island, which means no crowds and big savings on accommodations.
A car was conveniently waiting for us from National Car Rental upon arrival so we wouldn’t have to waste a single second of fleeting freedom.
“Let’s get this road trip started,” said Jason, turning the ignition to our new fully loaded sporty red Mazda.
I sunk into the sleek leather seat, pulled out our map and cranked the tunes.
There would be no Wiggles or Mini Pops playing on this road trip for two.
A Community Steeped in Artisan Pride
Stop one was for a Tim Horton’s drive-thru run (obviously), followed by a visit to the Chemainus, where we’d spend the night.
Located on Vancouver Island’s east shore (just one hour north of Victoria or ½ hour south of Nanaimo), Chemainus is a charming little seaside town in Cowichan with a thriving arts community that’s snuggled in between a mountain range and the ocean.
After parking in their downtown district, we decided to stretch our legs and take a little stroll through the downtown core and Old Town quarters.
Jason and I rarely shop together, unless on holidays, so I wasn’t about to pass up this opportunity. Holiday Jason didn’t seem to mind checking out all the shops — many of which hold unique handmade treasures, housed by unique architecture.
We made sure to visit the town’s famous Christmas store called ‘Christmas in Chemainus (it’s open year-round), pick up some sugar-laden treats from Hansel & Gretel’s Candy Co., and take in all the gorgeous 40 plus murals scattered around the town that depict its culture and vibrant history.
“Ooh, snap a pic this one!” I said to Jason, excitedly pointing to a life-size illustration of the Chemainus’ first telephone company, which was located in a private house on Maple Street but moved seven years later to larger premises.
An Appetite for Theatre
The combination of fresh island air, all the walk walking and excitement had made us both famished.
That evening we had a reservation for a quintessential Chemainus dining and entertainment experience – dinner at the newly renovated Playbill Dining Room, followed by a show in the Chemainus Theatre.
Playbill prepares an original buffet-style menu for every single show – each notoriously as creative as the productions themselves.
On this particular evening, we had tickets to the ‘Cornwalls’ All-Inclusive Cancun Christmas.’ As you can probably guess, our feast had a festive Mexican flare.
As we stepped into the foyer of the restaurant, it became clear that the Playbill is a popular dining hot spot –one that attracts men and women of all ages from all over Vancouver Island.
Retirees, young couples and families filled the tables – their laughter and spirited chatter was muted by the live pianist.
Many seemed to be in celebration mode and were dressed up for the occasion.
Even though we were first-timers to this unique dining experience, I had a strong feeling we were in for a real treat.
Shortly after devouring the world’s most incredible cream of mushroom soup – full disclosure, I had two bowls—it was time to line up for the buffet.
First off, this was not your typical bland buffet offerings.
We filled our plates with all kinds of festive homemade fare, such as roast turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, roasted veggies, etc. But the highlight was the steak flambé – a treat for all the senses.
Oh wait, maybe it was their famous sticky toffee pudding or strawberry cheesecake? Honestly, it was all Heaven.
With satisfied bellies, it was time to wander over to the theatre to find our seats.
*Lights, camera, action*
Let me just start by saying, Jason and I are both avid theatregoers. Usually, the productions we see are at the QE or Surrey Arts Centre, so this was a fun treat to try something new. I love how theatre can bridge gaps between different places,cultures, generations and backgrounds –The Chemainus Theatre Festival is no exception.
This vibrant, established and fully professional theatre features some of the finest performers and performances in Canada, Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
From romance and drama, to music and comedy, this venue has it all.
Cornwall’s All-Inclusive Cancun Christmas was all about shaking up traditions as this loveable family embarks on a surprise trip to Mexico. We were transported on a magical journey to the mid-1980s with fun festive and retro tunes along with a whimsical story of a family doing their very best to create a memorable Christmas holiday vacation.
Our hotel – the Best Western PLUS Chemainus Inn – was just minutes away from the theatre. It was nice not having to drive far after a busy day of of travel and site-seeing.
This smoke-free hotel features an indoor pool, a fitness centre and a spa tub. Perks include free WiFi, free self-parking, free breakfast buffet and spacious tastefully decorated rooms. All 75 rooms contain refrigeratiors, coffee makers and flat-screen TVs with satellite channels.
We were impressed with how clean, comfortable and spacious our suite was – oh and it had one heck of a comfortable king-sized bed!
If you’re looking for practical accommodations in the heart of Chemainus—one that is convienelty close to shops, the theatre and the marina, this hotel is a great value.
WANT TO WIN A ROMANTIC ESCAPE FOR 2 TO COWICHAN? THIS VIDEO WILL SHOW YOU HOW!
What is your favourite place on Vancouver Island to visit?
Disclaimer: While I wasn’t compensated for this post, all accommodations, meals and attractions were complimentary. All opinions expressed are my own.