Gourmet Luxury Havens on the Edge of North America
With its stunning diversity of Pacific seafood, high annual rainfall, and mild coastal climate that produces some of the best growing conditions in North America, Vancouver Island was a culinary revolution waiting to happen.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that two now internationally known restaurant/inns should have opened their doors only a short and scenic drive from Victoria, BC’s intimate and very British capital.
On a lonely wooded promontory overlooking a cozy cove and the Strait of Juan de Fuca beyond, Sinclair and Fredrica Philips’s neat white clapboard Sooke Harbour House has long been acclaimed as one of North America’s foremost hotel-restaurants for authentic regional cuisine.
Served amid panoramic views and lit by candle chandeliers, delicious repasts are complemented by an award-winning list of more than 2,000 wines, 40 of them served by the glass. Lovingly tended gardens reach down to the water’s edge, with 400 varieties of rare and unusual herbs, edible flowers, and organic vegetables that are used liberally and innovatively in the menu’s ever-changing, one-of-a-kind dishes.
All of the rooms have fireplaces and most have whirlpools for two positioned to enjoy the gorgeous views. Delicious packed lunches encourage guests to explore the area’s natural attractions.
Less homelike and more formal (and thus the special-occasion destination of many couples), the Aerie Resort offers stiff competition with its premium-quality kitchen and jaw-dropping setting, high atop Mallahat Summit at 1,200 feet, overlooking Finlayson Arm and southern Vancouver Island.
Austrian-born Maria Schuster and her house-proud staff make sure that any stay is a special occasion, offering old-world hospitality, meticulous attention to detail, and a wonderful mix of comfort and elegance. Meals combine elements of classic French cuisine with a cornucopia of Pacific Northwest possibilities, flavored with a dash of decadence to match the setting.