Sunshine Coast, BC.

As summer sadly slips away...we decided to soak up the remaining rays with a perfect little getaway to Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.  As their website says, Sechelt is as laid-back as it is scenic, full of artists, and surrounded by mountains.  That it is!

Coming into Gibsons from the ferry.  A short drive to Sechelt from here.  Photo:  d. king

 September tries its best to have us forget summer. – Bernard Williams, Philosopher.

Layla and I were kindly invited by a Vancouver friend, who along with her husband, just finished building a second home in the area.

With Janice & Layla at Davis Bay where we walked along the shore.

It’s all scenic from here. Even though it’s a short drive from Vancouver to the ferry in Horseshoe Bay, then a short ferry ride over to the coast, it had been a long time since my last visit.  Long overdue actually.

Horseshoe Bay. Photo: d. king

Since covid it appears that many people are exploring regions closer to where they live and re-discovering places they’ve not visited for some time.

In British Columbia we’re surrounded by beauty with a surplus of outdoor activities to take advantage of.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

 In Sechelt we walked along the rugged coast, visited a sandy beach, did two hikes, went to a local pub on the water for dinner, met some artists, hung out at home and laughed a lot.  We also visited a longtime friend of mine who relocated there recently and lives with a talented artist.  The vibe they made in their home is splendid.

Watching the boats & float planes at Lighthouse Pub. Photo: d. king
All Decked Out. Photo: d. king

On the last day we drove to Pender Harbour and hiked Skookumchuck Narrows, a popular attraction where the powerful rapids and whirlpools of the changing tidal waters can be seen that flow between two inlets –  Jervis Inlet and Sechelt Inlet. Layla did the hike with us as it was not very hilly.The trail is about 8km roundtrip and passes through a scenic west coast rainforest before reaching the viewpoints at either North Point or Roland Point. These rapids are a fairly unique occurrence as the water flow can reach speeds of 30km/h as about 200 billion gallons of water passes through the narrows during a tide change.  

Sechelt Rapids – the reversing tidal rapids, famous for their spectacular whirlpools and whitewater, are considered among the fastest in the world.  Current speeds during large tidal exchanges can exceed 16 knots (30 kph).

On the advice of a friend/photographer we had to stop and eat a cinnamon bun from the local Skookumchuk Bakery & Café.  You cannot help but notice the bakery either at the beginning or end of your hike.  Everything at the bakery is made from scratch using fresh local ingredients.  The bun came fresh out of the oven and it was to die for.

Outside the Bakery. Photo: d. king
A stopover at Ruby Lake Resort , Madeira Park. Photo: d. king

If you want to know more, the following was taken from the Sunshine Coast official website:

Getting to Sechelt is just a 40-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver, followed by a 27km/17mi drive up Highway 101.  Sechelt is the name of a town, a peninsula, an inlet, and a people. The town is a small community sitting on a sandbar; the narrow Sechelt isthmus which separates Sechelt Inlet from the Salish Sea. Named after the original First Nations people of the region – the shíshálh.

This charming seaside town serves as a central hub for exploring the southern Sunshine Coast, where it’s easy to go sightseeing and take day trips to the neighboring communities of Halfmoon Bay, Roberts Creek, Pender Harbour, or Egmont.  It’s also the perfect launching point for boating & paddling excursions to the surrounding fjords, including Narrows, Salmon, and Sechelt Inlet.

If you want to visit a true water-centric community, Pender Harbour is a must.

This unique harbour community is all about the water. Experience the true Pender Harbour Spirit, or just enjoy the 5 freshwater lakes scattered around the ocean harbour.

One day you turn around and it’s summer
Next day you turn around and it’s fall
And all the winters and the springs of a lifetime
Whatever happened to them all? – Lyrics from “September of my Years” sung by Frank Sinatra

 

Palm Springs Places: Casa Cody

Casa Cody is the oldest operating hotel in Palm Springs. All of the buildings at Casa Cody tell a story.  I explored the now designated historic preservation site the other day.

On the grounds. Photo: d. king

The property was founded in the 1920’s by Hollywood pioneer, Harriet Cody, cousin to the legendary, Buffalo Bill. The hotel is nestled against the spectacular San Jacinto mountains, in the heart of Palm Springs.

Photo: d. king

History of the hotel: In the early 1900’s, Harriet and Harold Bryant Cody came by wagon from Hollywood to Palm Springs. They settled on land that was to become Casa Cody and built a home. By the 1920’s, Harriet established the property as a hotel and it became the stomping grounds for legends of the arts community, visiting the desert. Charlie Chaplin, American Opera Singer Lawrence Tibbett and AnaÏs Nin spent time here, particularly in the Adobe House, where a stage was built and Tibbett’s piano was kept below the House for performances and parties. Charlie Chaplin was rumored to have performed on the stage in the living room.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Outside the Adobe House

Inside the boudoir of the Adobe House where Charlie Chaplin resided.  Photo: d. king

Casa Cody combines glamour, history and just plain breathtaking beauty at every glance.

https://casacody.com/

 

Palm Springs Places: L’Horizon

In keeping with my desire to discover and explore the little hidden gems behind the hedges, I bring you L’Horizon Resort & Spa – a *Steve Hermann Hotel.  A place with a history and a glamorous past; basically everything I’m looking for.  The ultimate holiday escape.

To give you an idea of exactly how clandestine this place is, I’ve passed it on my bike countless times before I knew what was there. One day I spotted a little sign out front and out of curiosity I stopped in.  I liked what I saw on the inside so I contacted the person in charge of PR  to make an appointment to come back and find out more.  Which brings me to this:

Turns out I wasn’t the first one.

     A celebrity hotspot in its original incarnation more than 60 years ago—has been reborn, with three acres of desert land by designer- to-the-stars, Steve Hermann. – Travel and Leisure

     “As for the hotel’s cosseting comforts, there are even complimentary foot and back massages at the pool.” – Architectural Digest

 

Photo: d. king

A bit of history:

L’Horizon was originally designed in 1952 by renowned architect William F. Cody as a private family retreat for the television producer, oil tycoon, and legendary hotel owner Jack Wrather and his wife, Hollywood actress Bonita “Bunny” Granville.  Wrather was one of the most important California figures of the 1950’s, producing both “The Lone Ranger” and “Lassie”, building the Disneyland hotel, and opening the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose. He commissioned a residence with 20 guest houses be built in Palm Springs as a getaway for his Hollywood friends to come join him relaxing poolside.  He named it L’Horizon and the guests of the property included Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Presidents Reagan and Nixon, as well as countless other luminaries.

Now, redeveloped as a luxury resort, it boasts true exclusivity nestled within intimate spaces on 3 acres of gorgeous manicured desert grounds.  The 25 Bungalows are custom designed to emulate luxurious private residences with hand selected materials and finishes. The dramatic mountain backdrop frames the imaginatively designed landscapes to create a striking setting found only at L’Horizon Resort and Spa. L’Horizon Resort and Spa is an Adult only Resort, all guests must be 21 and over.

*STEVE HERMANN

Steve Hermann is a celebrated designer of high-end homes all over the world. As one of the most prolific designers within California, he is known as the design guru for the Hollywood elite, captains of industry, and foreign royalty. His innovative and imaginative homes are owned by A-list celebrities, entertainment executives and members of the Forbes top ten wealthiest list. His designs have been featured on Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, E!, MTV, ABC, as well as in hundreds of magazines and websites worldwide. One of his recent projects called The Glass Pavilion was published in over a hundred magazines and newspapers. It was featured on over 18 million websites and at one point was the 3rd most viewed house in the world.

Steve has now focused his attention on establishing a world recognized luxury hospitality company, Steve Hermann Hotels, of which L’Horizon Resort and Spa will serve as the initial flagship property.

About some of the private bungalows/suites:

the residence – formerly the home of Jack Wrather

the private pool – photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

The Residence is one of the most spectacular resort accommodations to be had worldwide. The original home of Hollywood mogul Jack Wrather, it boasts a secluded yard and full sized pool. Completely private, the living room and yard feature extraordinary unobstructed views of the mountains.

The pinnacle of desert luxury, the Fireplace suite

Marilyn’s room – The fireplace suite

features a wood burning, indoor copper clad fireplace for cool desert nights. Marilyn Monroe’s personal bungalow at the Wrather’s residence of the 50’s, this large and spacious bungalow is the ultimate way to experience the glamour of old Palm Springs. Featuring a private outdoor shower, you can shower al-fresco under the night desert stars as she was often fond of doing.

Weekend Brunch and nightly dinner is available to the outside public at SOPA

Visit: https://lhorizonpalmsprings.com/

 

 

Palm Springs Places: A Desert Oasis

avalon hotel and bungalows

Photo: d. king

Beyond the yellow door lies a little haven.  I remember when this remarkable little refuge used to be called the Viceroy.  My friend Colleen took me here for a drink one evening about four years ago.  I have her to thank for introducing me to an abundance of chic little retreats that I may have otherwise not known about.  Places I’m now sharing with you.

The avalon is one of those unassuming from the outside places that I love…because when you walk in you immediately feel like you’re on holiday.  And being on holiday or at least feeling like you are, is an escape.

THE ART OF THE GETAWAY

A quick spin from L.A., Palm Springs was truly born as a weekender getaway for industry players, movie stars, mafia and moguls.  But us regular who are you calling regular folk can also revel in the desert hideaway.

Even so, this unassuming sanctuary is only one block from the downtown design district – an easy walk or bike ride with a choice of casual or chic dining, shopping, and entertainment.

The property, known as a Hollywood playground since the 30’s, was common for faces like Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Errol Flynn. (Crawford famously demanded french bread and 7 packs of cigarettes–3 opened–in hers.)

Enjoy a flowing series of courtyards, lawns, gardens and grounds that reveal romantic pools and cabanas, a hidden spa, studios and suites, and historic bungalows.

Photo: d. king

Private Bungalow Patio.  Photo: d. king

The Estrella Spa can suit whatever mood you happen to be in or want to be in.  Pamper and heal with a natural menu of options.  Try the Milky Way experience which can be made vegan with coconut or almond milk.

Oh yeah, the restaurant…

At Chi Chi restaurant, Jason Moffitt’s fresh, balanced California menu matches your desert mood, be it health or indulgence or somewhere in between.  They’re known for adding rum to their coconuts.

Photo: d. king

That’s simply how we lunch.

I think I can handle this.

To book:  https://www.avalon-hotel.com/palm-springs/

Palm Springs Places: La Sarena Villas

The Getaway.  A serene escape in the center of town with a stunning mountain backdrop.  C’mon…can it get much better?

Photo: d. king

This is the second in my series of desirable places to stay, eat, drink and unwind in and around the Palm Springs area.

La Sarena Villas is an adult only, dog friendly, luxury boutique resort smack in the heart of Palm Springs. With only 18 secluded guest villas each with their own private patio, complete with a romantic claw foot tub, fire pit, and built in benches…it’s pretty much perfect.

Photo: d. king

Redeveloped as a luxury hotel in 2016 by award winning architect, May Sung, with all the modern amenities of a 5 star hotel.   Each piece of furniture, all materials and finishes have been carefully hand picked by interior design group, Avenue Interior Design.

I really love the Happy Hour at Sugar High, a special root top deck.  The bartenders know what they’re doing mixing up amazing cocktails.  Appies are good too.

Then there’s the restaurant Azucar which is dedicated to excellence, serving up modern contemporary cuisine with local ingredients.

Photo: d. king

Unique finds in the fetching little boutique. I can endure this. Photo: d.king

Let’s not forget Whispers Spa: A place of tranquil serenity to unwind and let go of the pressures from everyday life!  There’s also a lovely boutique with great finds.

They have bikes too. Photo: d. king

Yup; I’m hooked!

Available for private parties.  Check them out at:

https://laserenavillas.com/

 

Ahhhhh the life!  If you go please mention where you heard of this little gem.

Palm Springs Places: The Sands Hotel & Spa

So I called up the Captain, ‘Please bring me my wine’
He said, ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine’

Lisa King in front of The Sands Spa.  Photo: d. king

This is the beginning of a series of desirable places to stay, eat, drink and unwind in and around the Palm Springs area.

Photo: Lisa King

As many of you know, I’ve been coming to this desirable desert destination for many years.  Two years ago I purchased a place to escape the rainy Vancouver winters and I love it.  I’ve become somewhat of a homebody preferring to cook meals at home, hang with my dogs and read or watch a movie.  But I also like going out to restaurants and listening to live music.  I especially love to discover the little hidden gems.  Places and spaces that take you away and really make you feel like you’re somewhere special.   Places like this:

Entrance to The Sands Hotel.  Photo:  d. king

So this is what I’ve been doing…in between cooking at home, walking the dogs, exploring new hiking areas, cruising on my bike and watching movies.  Luckily I also found an amazing tango instructor and a place to go dancing swing.  So I’m set.  However I’m still curious and I look forward to exploring the remarkable sprinkling of interesting and exotic places to enjoy.

Photo: d. king

There are so many noteworthy boutique style hotels where you can just stay put.  They’re not only places to spend the night when you come home from late night partying.  They make it hard to want to go elsewhere.  Which brings me to my recent weekend stay at The Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells, CA.  A special birthday weekend with my sister and two longtime girlfriends. We were greeted upon check-in with Moroccan mint tea and pink champagne on ice in a pineapple ice bucket no less, in our gorgeous suite with large outdoor seating area including an outdoor bathtub.  Acqua di Parma bath products – noted.  And if you happened to forgot to pack your sunscreen, no need to worry – they supply “Sun Bum” by the pool.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Light fare courtesy the Pink Cabana restaurant.  Photo: d. king  fyi: they make excellent cocktails.

The Moroccan-themed property was designed by legendary interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 designers in the world.  And it is simply put; stunning!  I mean these photos do not really do it complete justice.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

A combination of Bullard’s Moroccan-inspired influence and a mid-century vibe that is synonymous with the desert’s everlasting allure, the Sands Hotel & Spa is an exotic, luxurious and personalized take on hospitality. It caters to an adult only environment, therefore all registered guests must be over the age of 18.  I like that too.

Located in close proximity to the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens and glamorous El Paseo Shopping District as well as a short drive to Coachella Polo Grounds,  it features 46 guest rooms, the Pink Cabana restaurant and bar and a full-service spa.  It’s Fabulous darling!

And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’  Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

You can check out any time you like, But you don’t want to leave!

We were well taken care of.  Special thanks to Adam Ramirez; Guest Services Manager and Olivia Prescott; Director of Sales + Public Relations for making our stay extra special.  See you next time! XO

Visit: http://sandshotelandspa.com/

quotes: lyrics from Hotel California

Selfie at the Spa : d. king

EVEN in Eugene

A Happy Hotel

EVEN is the name of a new hotel concept by InterContinental Hotels Group which is marketed to travelers’ holistic wellness needs. It’s a hotel with a conscience. It was the first overnight stay on my drive from Vancouver to Palm Springs.  And it will be the last on my return.

My very first thought when I walked through the reception area was “they’re onto something.”

For a reasonably priced hotel they offer a lot.  Others should follow suit.  They set out to defy that travel needs to be a total disruption to your routine.  They give you choices designed to help you stay on track. You can rest easy, keep active, eat well all under one very well designed roof.

Photo: d. king

The rooms not only have natural eucalyptus fiber bedding which create a cooling effect to promote deeper sleep, they also have workout equipment inside each room.  Aside from a co-ed gym with cork flooring and fitness videos.  Bonus: you can also get Netflix in your room.

Photo: d. king

The room:

Photo: d. king

The restaurant offers delicious healthy calorie-counting options. You can count on it whether you want to or not.  Great cocktails too. Fresh squeezed orange juice and local organic coffee roasters make for a perfect morning start.

Photo: d. king

Stay hydrated with fill your bottle water options like lime/ginger + lemon/mint.

Photo: d. king

Did I mention the friendly, savvy hotel staff?

Not bad right?

Locations to date: New York, Washington, Miami, Sarasota, Fl., Eugene, Or., Seattle (new).  More to follow.

The writing’s on the wall.
Photo: d. king

Visit: https://www.ihg.com/evenhotels/hotels/us/en/reservation

 

 

 

Destination: Galiano

I can now cross Galiano Island off my places to go to list.  It was the only remaining one of all the gulf islands in British Columbia left for me to visit, and luckily the dogs and I were recently and happily invited to spend three nights at a beautiful ocean front home belonging to friends Joanne & Geoff who also happen to be our neighbours. They’ve been going for a number of years and now I understand why.  Their location is unrivaled but Galiano in general has such natural rocky beauty and there’s even a white sandy beach. It is referred to as the untamed Gulf Island and the wildest due to its mountainous geography, rare plant population and generous forest reserves. Plenty of wildlife too. It’s the closest to Vancouver of the southern group of Gulf Islands. Much of it is protected from development thanks to community initiatives from a tight knit group of concerned property owners.

Lunch and Dinner served outdoors with a view you can never tire of.

Galiano is also the driest in the gulf, getting more sunshine than the mainland and most of coastal B.C.  It comes with peaceful beaches, wooded trails, a nine-hole golf course, artists’ studios & galleries, marina and a world class restaurant in the forest. Oh the restaurant by the way deserves a separate mention. It was that good.  But unfortunately I cannot give you the secret recipe for Geoff’s special gin martinis on the rocks…..literally. We were sipping them on the rocks.

I had to take a photo of my bedroom. A little too hazy because of the wildfires to see the water, but the ocean is right outside the window.

And I will soon tell you about an upcoming workshop offered by Joanne, a life coach and our hostess with the mostest who makes a mean everything salad with goddess dressing.  With a background in the arts, Joanne is a founder of The Gulf Islands Film and Television School.  Her upcoming workshop along with co-facilitator Wendy Sidwell is not only very interesting but will prove to be very helpful to most individuals so stay tuned…