Galiano – Spanish for Magnificent
(Not really, but it should be!)
Dionisio Galiano was the commander of the Spanish schooner, 'Sutil's', exploring the Strait of Georgia in 1792. He gave his name to the Island and to the beautiful Park on the North end of the Island. The Coast Salish people know how special Galiano Island is as they have had summer camps on the Island for the past 3000 years or so.
Ferry schedules vary from "direct routes from Vancouver and Victoria" to "milk runs" that can take a few hours. My wife Linda and I choose a "milk run". It offers time to relax and enjoy the incredible scenery from Victoria through the Gulf Islands and Active Pass to Galiano. The weather is superb. The view is phenomenal. We're in awe of the beauty of the land we have called home for 20 years. We feel so lucky to live here.
When we arrive we go directly to our home for the next two days, the Galiano Oceanfront Inn and Spa, a premier resort retreat. Its Madrona del Mar Spa / Wellness Retreat offers a holistic approach to health. The Atrevida Restaurant provides guests with high quality delicious food. The Inn is styled in a Spanish motif with a decidedly west coast influence.
Our hostess, Conny Nordin gives us a tour of the resort. The 10-Room Inn has so much to offer guests. The owners had the vision of creating a Spa Resort, one that extended to every guest room, so they developed a host of special features for guests. In each room, a "Madrona" massage table comes out of the wall at the touch of a button. You can have a massage in your room, fall sleep, and be left to rest. I have not seen this feature in some of the world's best accommodations.
All of the electronics in our room are hidden from view, but readily available: everything from a flat screen LCD TV to an Internet connection. We're in the lap of luxury: silk duvet, cozy bed, beautiful art work, a wood-burning fireplace, the ocean at our feet, beautiful gardens to relax in … What on earth could be missing? Darned if I know!
Our dinner in the Atrevida Restaurant is delicious. The view from the dining room is spectacular. In the distance, we see Mount Baker rising majestically from the Mainland of Washington State. Two hours slip by before we finally finish our three courses.
That evening at the Spa, I spend an hour in the Mediterranean Sea Flotation Bath. A sea-green room holds a large slate and marble bath where I float effortlessly. My mood at the end of the hour is mellow and my body feels very relaxed.
Back in our room, we can see the silvery full moon shining across the water from the west. Marine traffic quietly passes through the darkened Active Pass. BC Ferries look like cruise ships as they go by. We leave our balcony window open so the gently lapping waves caress us to sleep.
Our first morning, we wake to the Eastern Sun turning the water into shimmering gold and sit down to a scrumptious breakfast of fresh croissants and muffins, tea and orange juice. Linda enjoys a frittata and I have crepes with a light curry sauce. Both are delicious.
First, we're off to play a round of Golf at the Galiano Golf and Country Club. Our hostess, club manager Halii Raines, cheerfully signs us in. The course is somewhat challenging but not too tough – just right for my novice partner, Linda. The 9-hole course is 1,936 yards long and has modifications if you play 18 holes. The greens are well-manicured. There are unique sandstone tee marks with birds and animals carved in them. After golf, we enjoy our lunch in the Club House.
Next, we're off to meet David Burchall, owner of the Bellhouse Inn and skipper of the Odyssey II. He takes us for a sail in the waters near Montegue Harbor on the West side of Galiano Island. The weather is perfect, warm and sunny. Just enough wind to bring the Odyssey to "warp" speed. David is an excellent sailor and congenial host. The views out here are sensational. Whale-watching boats from Vancouver zoom by. We see lots of seals and eagles. It's hard not to sit back and soak up the environment when you're on a sailboat.
The next morning at breakfast we meet Sharon, a nursing professor from Vancouver. She's come over as a Ferry walk-on passenger and tells us all about her hiking and moped experiences on Galiano. The Galiano Inn is so close to the Ferry Terminal that this becomes a viable alternative to driving.
I return to the Spa for an hour of relaxing massage. Sherri is my spa technician. She listens to my needs, finds my trouble spots and achieves her goal. In the end, all my tension is gone. Well done Sherri!
Back in my room, I stand on the balcony overlooking the lush grounds and the sparkling sea. I wonder if it can get any better. This is really a great place to come and relax. We've thoroughly enjoyed our stay on Galiano Island. It's one of our favorite Gulf Islands.