Perfection Made Even Better at this Sooke Seaside Escape
By Chris McBeath
How can you improve on perfection? For the past twenty years, Sinclair and Frederique Philip have wined, dined and offered world-acclaimed luxury lodging for getaway seekers. Many cuisine and accommodation experts have given it award-winning ratings, and with its recent expansion, we are sure it will receive even higher acclaim - if there is such!
Perched on a bluff, overlooking the Sooke Harbour Inlet, the inn's white clapboard exterior still beckons its traditional welcome. Tidal processions create an ever-changing backdrop to the magnificently manicured gardens that terrace down towards the water's edge. While meandering along the winding pathways, we admired the multitude of edible plants and flowers which, many thanks to our mild west-coast climate, appear to thrive throughout the year.
All twenty-eight guest rooms at Sooke Harbour House are unique in style and décor, and after chatting with Frederique we understood why. Radiating with warmth and genuine interest, she graciously shared how important it is for her to choose furnishings and accessories she loves and that her guests will appreciate too. It is obvious that each room has been given considerable thought in creating its unique theme. Luxurious perks, such as private hot tubs, wood-burning fireplaces, Jacuzzi tubs for two, and sensational ocean views are just a few that their guests will enjoy.
From our third floor 'Thunderbird Room', there is a bird's eye ocean view from every window. White with beige tones contrast warm fir wood furnishings and the contemporary feel of this split-level suite is accentuated by the brightness from skylights and its south-facing view. Carvings, masks and a unique collection of artwork celebrates the history of the First Nations people. The king bed is cozy with its down duvet and, from its upper level location, we were permitted sensational water and mountain views.
Through the rising steam of our private outdoor hot tub, we enjoyed the majestic view of the Olympic snow-capped peaks across the Juan de Fuca Strait. Waves lapped up onto the rocky shore directly below and blustery November winds made our hot tub retreat even more inviting. Unpredictable weather is a given at this time of year, and although preference for most travelers is during the dry months, an experience at The Sooke Harbour House will promise perfection in whatever month you visit.
A warming fire later crackled, while the Pacific Northwest rains pelted against the windows of our suite. Herbal tea blends and other beverage choices from our wet bar were soothing comforts to share. A soak in the claw foot tub and an experience in the unique two-person steam shower definitely reduced any of the week's remaining tension to a bare minimum.
It goes without saying that dining at Sooke Harbour House is an important part of the experience. Fine wines complimenting only the freshest, local ingredients are elements that give Sooke Harbour House the internationally acclaimed reputation it so well deserves.
A choice between a romantic picnic lunch or a dining room meal is included with each stay. As well, we enjoyed a full course breakfast accompanied by our suite's ocean view. The pre-ordered selection permitted us to laze about and enjoy the slower pace for just a little longer. A delectable poached egg enveloped in a velvet garden herb and fennel sauce followed fresh yogurt and granola which was topped with a delicious wild berry compote. Flaky croissants and Italian rich brewed coffee topped off our meal.
Although breakfast and lunch were both spectacular, our true gastronomical experience occurred the previous night when we sampled a variety of some of the finest creations that The Sooke Harbour House has to offer. Vol au vent pastry puffs filled with wild mushrooms and fresh garden leeks; an olfactory sensation of ginger roasted local side-striped shrimp; a sea of scallops which were grilled lightly and coupled with Jerusalem artichoke chips; pan seared, Port Renfrew lingcod topped with a flavourful pumpkin seed crusting and seasoned wonderfully with Sooke garden lovage and sage; roasted local Skate Wing prepared on a bed of brussel sprouts with braised marrow squash and Chinese artichokes; roasted Galiano Island venison doused with sour cherry gooseberry sauce was well presented with baby carrots and hollow crown parsnips; and a fresh strawberry-filled pastry topped with divine lemon custard and decorated with a colourful tuberous begonia was a delectable choice to complete this absolutely sensational parade of palate pleasers.
Bountiful seafood from the surrounding waters; a plethora of vegetables, berries, edible plants and flowers from Sooke Harbour House gardens; fresh local foul, game, rabbit and lamb; and a team of cuisine artisans to prepare and present the fresh ingredients. That's what helps make The Sooke Harbour House number one and, just as Frederique is master of the décor and design, Sinclair's expertise lies in the area of fine cuisine and wines. A perfect coupling to create a perfect getaway.
If You Go:
Sooke Harbour House
1528 Whiffen Spit Road
Sooke, BC Canada, V05 1N0
Web site: www.sookeharbourhouse.com
Wine Spectator Grand Award Winner - September 2000
Voted Second Best Country Inn in The World - Gourmet Magazine - May 2000
Travelers from Vancouver, Vancouver Island via BC Ferries - http://www.bcferries.bc.ca Within B.C. call 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779) Outside B.C. - 604-444-2890
Travellers from Washington state via - www.ferrytravel.com. Phone: 206-464-6400 Fly to Vancouver airport, or Victoria and rent a car Fly via Kenmore Air from Seattle 1-800-543-9595 / 206-486-1257 or Sea Air from Vancouver 1-800-447-3247 arriving in Victoria or Pat Bay
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