British Columbia’s Harrison Hot Springs: The Perfect Girlfriend Getaway
By Jane Cassie
Today is the birth of a new resolution – a truce to myself. I’m going to shift my lifestyle and start to simplify. As well as substituting some heart-loving calisthenics for computer time, I’ll be burning that obsessive ‘things to do’ list.
My aching shoulders, stiff neck and strained eyeballs will be grateful – so will my devoted counterparts – kids, companion, coworkers and those long-forgotten girlfriends. And that’s how I’ll begin to repair. That’s how I’ll start this new lease on life.
A Zen-Filled Experience
British Columbia’s Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa is the perfect nosh spot to do just that. Not only do they offer family-fun packages and getaways to generate romance, but there’s a blissful retreat to lure us ladies.
The sweet two-night deal includes some gourmand grazing – at both the highfalutin Copper Room and Lakeside’s breakfast buffet, a Zen-filled experience in the Healing Springs Spa and use of the resort’s five mineral pools. What a sure-fire cure for any frenzied female!
I immediately call up two of my nursing cohorts who could also benefit from a break. It doesn’t take much convincing to pry them away from their care-giving careers. Before long, our swim suits are packed and dancing shoes are polished.
We’re off to taste a slice of sisterhood-style serenity and nothing’s going to spoil our ravenous appetites!
This sanctuary hugs up to the southern shoreline of Harrison Lake and is divinely removed from anything urban. Although it’s now just a short ninety-minute drive from Vancouver, access to this property was not always this easy.
Back in 1886, when it was the St. Alice Hotel and Bath House, luxury-loving travelers would arrive either by riverboat or train and coach.
Florence Nightingale Types
The original hotel burned to the ground in 1920, another one was resurrected five years later, and ever since it’s been a temporary refuge for getaway seekers.
I discover that, for a short time in the 1940s, it also served as sanitarium for women who had participated in the war. “If it did the trick for Florence Nightingale-types back then,” I comment to my two traveling companions, “just think what it will do for three overworked nurses today!”
We’re led beyond a lobby, sporting west coast décor, to intimate sitting areas and a communal room hosting a cozy hearth. Corridors trail away to varied accommodations, one being our chic suite in the resort’s West Tower.
Over the next two days in this contemporary gem, we catch up on lost zzz’s, sip too much wine, and yak, yak, yak. And yes, shop talk does get in the way once or twice.
In between our gabfests we “find nature… just up the road.” It’s a befitting community catchphrase that ties in with a cornucopia of activities.
Hawks and herons pose stoically on the sidelines of three nearby golf courses, second-growth forests shade interpretive trails and hiking routes, and from October to January migrating bald eagles arrive at Harrison River in droves.
Bordered by sandy shores and backed by coastal peaks, it’s a postcard setting that typifies the axiom, beautiful British Columbia.
We stroll along the beachfront promenade, where autumn gardens are shaded by stately willows. During warmer weather, this entire lakeshore is a playground for master castle carvers and aquatic neurotics.
But we don’t need to stray that far to take a plunge. At the hub of our getaway, the steam rises from five mineral-infused pools. We perfect our backstroke in the lap pool, get pulsated by jetted hot tubs and immerse into the mineral pool, an oasis that welcomes ‘adults only.’
As well as hosting newlyweds and other couples, there are women, just like us, partaking in some diva downtime. We learn that one has come all the way from Toronto.
“My business takes me frequently to Vancouver,” she shares, as we soothe and soak. “And every year, I make sure to book a weekend here, just for some personal pampering.” This is one gal who knows her priorities!
No Basic Facial
The whole meal deal wouldn’t be complete without a treatment or two and just beyond the covered boardwalk is a tantalizing lineup at the Healing Springs Spa. Heady fragrances waft from eight pleasure providing rooms where everything from basic pedicures to amazing massages heightens the senses.
With the effects of age creeping in at full tilt, we all decide to go for the area that’s most visible and vulnerable these days. The anti-aging Ogenage Replenishing facial should do the trick.
Rich in minerals and elements, it promises to preserve our youth and reduce a few wrinkles. What more could three fifty-something-year-old faces ask for?
My esthetician, Beth, is blessed with hands that are softer that silk and unless my upper body has somehow melded with my double chin, this is no basic facial!
She begins with a relaxing back rub, easing every bit of tension out of my scrunched up shoulders and rigid scapula. After eventually placing a self-heating mud pack beneath my tired torso, she goes for the pores.And over the next seventy-five minutes, they’re revived like they’ve never been charged up before.
The Grand Finale
Cleansed, toned, exfoliated, oh my! She smoothes on the glorious face goop like a master mason and in seconds every ounce of stress washes away with the background sounds of surf. I’m pretty sure I start to snore.
And then there’s the grand finale – the youth-making mask.
“This product tightens and temporarily lifts facial skin,” Beth comments, while applying the spackle-like spread.
“Well, bring it on!” I mumble, drugged with euphoria. She fills every one of my cavernous imperfections more competently than any drywaller could, and when the egg shell seal is ready to crack, it’s pealed away to unveil a brand new me. What an awesome way to ‘face’ my new reality!
On the final night, we celebrate our camaraderie with a Copper Room experience. The Art-Deco inspired venue is reminiscent of a bygone era and under the team of culinary experts, we dine on artistically-crafted courses.
Pacific poached halibut, sensuously coupled with shellfish, swims in a saffron-infused bouillabaisse, spicy Malaysian-style puri puri prawns are complimented by sweet coconut milk, and succulent oven-roasted rack of lamb is done to perfection.
Martinis are precursors, fine wine is paired up, and decadent deserts follow this parade of palate pleasers.
The feast is accompanied by the crooning Jones Boys who perform everything from Big Band to Bublé and as the dance floor fills up with mambo movers and salsa shakers, we raise our glasses for one final toast.
“Here’s to new resolutions and great restorations.” They’ve been the key watchwords for this weekend retreat. Not only do they pertain to our physical and emotional well being, but also to the nurturing of friendship.
And in the soft glow of candlelight our three gleaming, taut and toned faces reveal that it’s true.
Where to go:
You’ll “Find nature…just up the road” at
Harrison Hot Springs Visitor information
499 Hot Springs Road, Harrison Hot Springs,
Where to Stay:
Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa
100 Esplanade Avenue, Harrison Hot Springs,
British Columbia, VOM 1KO, Canada,
Reservations 866-638-5075 or 800-663-2266
Since beginning her freelancing career in 1996, Jane Cassie’s articles have appeared in more over 2,000 newspapers and magazines. She is the co-owner / editor of Travel Writers’ Tales and a member of Society of American Travel Writers, TMAC and past President of BC Association of Travel Writers. See more of her work at janecassie.com.
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