To celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary, we decided to get away from the city but stay somewhat close to home. Last year, we spent a weekend celebrating at Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa in Courtenay. We heard great things about Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina from friends who had either stayed there or visited their spa for treatments, so we decided that it would be a great destination to explore. Last summer, we also stayed on the Sunshine Coast for a few days (read the post here). There are so many great spots for mini getaways, but the one thing I like about the Sunshine Coast is its close proximity to Vancouver. It’s only a 40-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, and it costs much less than commuting along the more travelled routes (eg. Nanaimo or Victoria) as it includes a return trip back home as well.
We stopped by the Gibsons Visitor Centre for a little tour on our way to Madeira Park, The original plan was to go for a light hike, but the weather was less than accommodating. So we went for a short drive instead along the southern most point of the Sunshine Coast. During the drier and warmer months, there are small farmers market and outdoor music concerts that attract locals and visitors alike. It’s a great alternative if you’re not interested in driving a little further out to Pender Harbour.
Nestled in a five-acre glade of Douglas Fir, Red Cedar and Arbutus trees, the villas at Painted Boat Resort Spa & Marina are carefully designed to take full advantage of the extraordinary geography of BC’s Sunshine Coast. It offers great facilities like an infinity pool, hot tub with a harbour view, fitness facility, access to a deep water marina, luxury spa and their fine dining restaurant called The Restaurant.
Their Spa Garden includes a sauna cave, outdoor glacial rain showers, a multi-jet hot pool with massaging waterfall, and a cool saltwater floatation pool. It was a nice way to start our weekend here, as moving through the hot and cold temperatures throughout the stations really help to detoxify the body. We also got to experience their steam shower room, which comes with a glacial clay cleanser treatment sourced from North Vancouver. This is usually only included with a spa treatment, so we were fortunate to experience such a luxurious product.
Spa treatments with knowledgeable and trained spa practitioners can be booked in advance if you’re in need of some pampering and TLC. After enjoying some tea in their spa lounge, we were then served our bento box lunches. For entrées, you can choose between Albacore Tuna with fresh tomato and cilantro, smoked salmon with asparagus, or poached hen Egg with grilled vegetables. The rest of the bento contains an organic greens salad topped with some fruit, cheese and nuts, drizzled with house vinaigrette, and there’s fresh fruit, vegetables, and yogurt for dessert. These are nice and light lunchtime options, especially after spending some time in their spa.
We left the spa and checked into our suite, which was a gorgeous 2-level, 1,700 square foot villa with two bedrooms and two full baths. We immediately fell in love with the layout and the vaulted ceilings. There is a full kitchen with modern stainless steel appliances, and a spacious living room that opens up to a large balcony which overlooks the harbour. The master bedroom also boasts a nice view of the harbour, and it comes with a large ensuite bathroom.
The Restaurant is only open from Wednesday to Sunday during the shoulder season, so we were thrilled to be able to drop by for dinner on our first night. Their menu features fresh ingredients and seafood from around the Sunshine Coast and BC. For those with seafood allergies, they also have a variety of meat dishes. With a stunning view of the harbour and a decent wine selection, you can see why this restaurant is a popular dining spot with locals and tourists.For our appetizers, we indulged in a prosciutto plate (below left), and mussels and clams with some white wine. The saltiness of the prosciutto was balanced out by the fruit compression, pickled shallots and parmesan crisps. The mussels and clams (below right) were small yet meaty, served in a coconut, coriander, and tomato broth. We also had some bread, which was toasted and buttered and was perfect for soaking up the delicious broth.
For entrées, we ordered the scallops and crisp pork belly with savoy cabbage, ginger rice croquette and hoisin sauce (below left), and the Haida Gwaii halibut with ricotta gnocchi, spinach, and beet emulsion (below right). The scallops were perfectly pan seared and packed tons of flavour, and the pork belly was very tender. It was a nice land and sea pairing. I really enjoyed the ricotta gnocchi, and although there wasn’t very much of it, it was quite buttery and rich in flavour. It was also pan seared so it had a nice, yet subtle bite. The halibut was well-seasoned and cooked to perfection.
For dessert, we ordered the chocolate ganache with pecan crumble, aerated chocolate, and peanut butter ice cream (below left). We also couldn’t resist trying their lime curd mousse (below right) with almond and coconut genoise, sesame caramel, and pearls, which tasted like whipped cream. As expected, the chocolate ganache was decadent and rich, and paired well with coffee. The fresh sliced strawberries and cherry fluid gel were a nice touch as well. The lime curd mousse was a pleasant surprise. It was light and airy, sat on top of a soft European sponge cake, and was covered by a layer of white milk chocolate.
Because dining options are fairly limited in the area, breakfast baskets are available for a fee. They are a great option for those who don’t want to go far to grab a morning bite. Our breakfast baskets included eggs, veggies for an omelette (mushrooms, asparagus, green onions), brie cheese, cereal, milk, orange juice, bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon lox, and yogurt.
Since it was a nice and sunny morning, we decided to rent kayaks to take advantage of the nice weather. Kayaks and paddle board rentals can be booked through the resort in advance (this is encouraged just to ensure that they are available when you want them). It was a gorgeous day to go out exploring, and we chose a tandem kayak. I kayaked many years ago and one of our training exercises was to perform a wet exit. Luckily for us, the harbour is quite sheltered from strong currents, so it made for easy and stress-free kayaking. From the water, you definitely get a different vantage point of the small surrounding marina communities than you would from driving.
We made smoked salmon and cream cheese croissantwiches for lunch, and decided to head to Madeira Park to shop for dinner since the restaurant is closed on Monday during the shoulder season. With a fully equipped kitchen in our villa and a BBQ on our balcony, cooking seemed like a great idea. We learned that the Oaktree Market, which is a quick 5 minute drive away, is a popular place to shop for meats and seafood, local and organic produce, and convenience items. We picked up a ribeye steak and lobster to BBQ, and also a zucchini from the IGA around the corner. The villa’s kitchen is stocked with minimal condiments, so you should either bring your own or pick some up at the store.
We slept in the next morning to catch the afternoon ferry back to Vancouver. Although we only stayed 2 nights, we both felt rejuvenated and excited to return home. On our way to the Langdale Ferry Terminal, we experienced the many micro climates of the Sunshine Coast as we drove through heavy rainfall, flooded streets in Halfmoon Bay, some small snowfall in Sechelt, and a mix of sun and cloud in Gibsons. Don’t be fooled by its name, as there’s more than just sunshine on the Sunshine Coast. But if you’re looking for a place to relax that’s close by, then you should definitely give this place a shot.
Where should we go for our next anniversary? Leave your comments below, we’d love to read them!