Following a quick pit-stop at home to sleep and re-pack after a trip to the Cariboo, John and I were off to Salt Spring Island for the weekend. This member of the Gulf Island chain in the Georgia Strait, between Vancouver Island and the mainland of BC, is a favourite destination of ours (that we fell in love with years ago).
Salt Spring has rolling hills, lush meadows, evergreen forests, groves of Arbutus trees, rocky seaside cliffs, and more artisans, artists, and farmers than you can count (among a full-time population of about 10,500). From Tourism BC: “Artists and young neo-hippies, retired millionaires and restaurateurs, trades people and boot-clad farmers, writers and musicians all happily co-exist on what the Washington Post once called ‘the coolest island in Canada.'”
While we usually take the ferry over to the Island (departing from Tsawwassen) we hitched a ride with Saltspring Air from Coal Harbour, just outside the Westin Bayshore. After a quick 30-minute flight, we were already landing on the water in Salt Spring’s Ganges Harbour.
We were invited out to Hastings House a few times last summer for their Chefs Across the Water series and were never able to make it. They were kind enough to host us this time around and a staff member met us at the float plane dock to drive us up to the inn, which is just a few minutes away.
Hastings House was originally built by English Navel officer Warren Hastings in 1940. His family owned the estate until 1980 when he sold it to a couple from Alberta to turned it into the resort we see today, perched on top of a hill overlooking Ganges.
The estate currently consists of several buildings, from green houses, cottages, farmhouse, and a barn to the Manor House (where the famous dining room is located), and several hillside suites where ours was located.
On our second day, we borrowed two bikes from Hastings House (they have half a dozen for guest use, including helmets) and we set out for Vesuvius Bay where we got our fill of our favourite fish and chips at Seaside Restaurant.
Braving the non-stop hills and inclines, we ended up cycling 28 kilometers that day, returning the bikes about 4 hours later. Well sunned and sore, we walked down to the Salt Spring Saturday Market the following day to pick up a selection of bath bombs from Saltspring Soapworks. We then promptly put them to use in our suite’s large soaker tub.
On our last morning, we took to the gravel and bark mulch path that circles the property, which follows a trail of public art on display.
Aside from the hillside meadow dotted with sheep, the edible flower gardens, the sculptures, and the unobstructed harbour views, our favourite part of Hastings House was meal time. After a morning hamper was delivered to our suite each day including fresh-baked muffins and coffee, we could then head down for breakfast (included with your stay) which was served with farm-fresh eggs.
The three-course dinner was perfectly paired with local Island and BC wines thanks to Executive Marcel Kauer and Maitre’d Michael Coughlin.
If you have the opportunity to visit Salt Spring Island one day, take a walk around the harbour, visit the market, do a studio tour, go for a hike and explore hidden coves, visit one of the many farms, or snuggle up and enjoy the scenery. You can determine your level of activity and we made sure to take advantage of the great outdoors as well as the comforts of our hillside suite. Whether you get to the Island by float plane, boat, or ferry, it’s an experience that is not to be missed.