“We should do this when your parents visit,” is a phrase that I’ve said to John for the last six years, which is the amount of time it’s been since his mother and father traveled to Vancouver from Iowa. My in-laws are incredible people who just happened to be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this October so they planned a cross-continent journey to mark the occasion in style. They set out on Amtrak’s Empire Builder line from the Midwest, arriving in Washington state to have their own “2 Days in Seattle” experience before I picked them up.
While the list of restaurants and attractions for us to show them was seemingly endless, our overall goal for their visit was this: We wanted them to experience the West Coast in the most relaxing way possible, and we wanted to get them as close to the forest and ocean as we could. One place immediately came to mind: Tigh-Na-Mara.
The ferry across the Salish Sea/Strait of Georgia, the quick drive to Parksville from Nanaimo, the twisting arbutus trees, the rustic and modern amenities of the resort’s lodges, and the spectacular sunrise views over water made our decision to stay at the oceanside resort a no-brainer.
We were setup in two oceanview suites in the Texada building, on the very edge of the property that sat above the bay’s sand bars that disappeared and reappeared with every tidal shift. The post and beam lodges radiated a scent of warm cedar, which always evokes feelings of comfort, coziness, and being “home” for a born and raised Pacific Northwester like me.
Upon our arrival we discovered a bottle of BC wine and a cheese platter in their room, along with a 50th anniversary card that made my mother-in-law smile. In fact the pair was so giddy that they linked arms as they sipped their first glasses of wine. I knew our plan to help them relax and celebrate was already successful.
The first morning I set an early alarm so that I could catch the sunrise, which had already began illuminating our room through the skylight over the living room area. Within a few minutes we received an iMessage from John’s mom saying she was up to catch the sunrise as well.
We enjoyed two nights at Tigh-Na-Mara and each morning we would tip-toe over to John’s parent’s room in our pyjamas, like children on Christmas morning. We’d brew a pot of delicious in-room coffee and we’d all sit around on our MacBooks and get some work done for the day using the complimentary WiFi.
After everyone was fully awake and ready to take on the day, we planned some leisurely activities:
- From Tigh-Na-Mara we drove 29 minutes to Cathedral Grove to show our Midwest family some good old-fashioned ancient cedars. We did the trail loop on the south side of the highway, which was easy to navigate.
- On the way back from Cathedral Grove we stopped in at the Coombs Old Country Market (aka the Goats on Roof Market) to pick up some snacks and treats for our room. Maple salmon jerky, Raincoast crisps, Comox brie, fresh-baked buns, ham, and more.
- Later on we went for dinner at The Cedar Room at Tigh-Na-Mara where salmon entrées were savoured and followed up by a pumpkin-spice cheesecake for dessert which arrived on a special plate decorated with “Happy 50th Anniversary”.
The chef also sent over some pumpkin donut holes with crème anglaise for dipping. My mother-in-law is still talking about those sweet and spicy morsels to this day.
Other activities on the list that we just didn’t get to were to have tea at Milner Gardens or visit the award-winning Grotto Spa on site — where John and I have previously had some of the best massages, ever.
Having been there before on a girls spa getaway and also a romantic getaway with John during Parksville Uncorked, this was such a different experience at Tigh-Na-Mara for me. However, it was just as rejuvenating to be there with people we love and to give them that truly West Coast experience we wanted them to savour.
Tigh-Na-Mara also went out of their way to make some of the most important people in our lives feel welcome, refreshed, and celebrated, and for that I truly have to give them top marks — even higher than I have already scored them for years.