Summer is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to emerge blinking and dazed out of hibernation, reacquaint yourself with the sun-washed outdoors, and start exploring our sprawling natural backyard (see you in a few months, Netflix). This year, start your adventures a bit further afield: Vancouver is ideally situated to embark on weekend trips into the wilds of B.C., and the perfect place to start is remote and oh-so-romantic luxury retreat Sonora Resort.
Hidden within the Discovery Islands, Sonora is the perfect sojourn for S.O.’s who – like my boyfriend and me – have wildly different tastes. I knew he would gravitate toward the rugged wilderness, hot tubs, and complimentary beer; I was sold on the forest-facing meditation, globally stocked wine cellar and wildlife excursions. His birthday was coming up, so I told him to pack a bag and ditch the phone – this weekend was all about connecting with nature, and each other.
Travelling to Sonora Resort is both straightforward and scenic. We take a 50-minute floatplane flight from Vancouver International Airport directly to the resort dock, and are immediately led into the elegant Tyee Dining Room for snacks, cocktails and a brief orientation. Sonora is built for the 21st-century jetsetter seeking a cozy island getaway with more than 30 hot tubs sprinkled throughout the property and mineral pools facing the ocean; a well-stocked games room offering virtual golf and video games, as well as shuffleboard and wall-mounted Scrabble; biking and hiking trails; excellent WiFi access; and more. The grounds feature 88 rooms and suites that can hold up to 130 people at a time, but during our early-season visit there were just 14 other guests. It was like our own private resort, and the extremely friendly and accommodating staff felt like our weekend family.
After a delicious breakfast facing the inlet – the eagles had retreated and the boulder was blanketed by dozens of seagulls – we stroll to Island Currents Spa for a couples’ West Coast Healing Massage. Like all treatments at Sonora Resort, the massage is inspired by the healing powers of surrounding nature, and incorporates aromatherapy to help draw out tension and promote feelings of calm and peace. Beneath my cocktail- and fashion-loving exterior beats the heart of an earthy hippie, so I embraced this concept with unbound enthusiasm, selecting a vanilla-and-citrus oil and diving eagerly into a state of utter zen. A few minutes in, I heard soft snoring beside me and knew my boyfriend was already submerged. Afterward, we lay on the massage tables like piles of jelly, too relaxed to even think about getting up.
That afternoon, we hopped aboard a zodiac boat for the exhilarating Adventure Eco-tour within Bute Inlet. My boyfriend isn’t big on guided tours, but even he enjoyed the adventure – it was intimate with just two others joining us, a lovely British couple celebrating their 30th anniversary (the man looked dazed as he relayed this fact, as if baffled as to how they had gotten there). Ryan, our excellent guide, led us on an exploration of the coastlines where we spotted colonies of harbor seals and sea lions, hundreds of bald eagles perched in the forest, and a black bear fishing along the coastline.
After dinner – an encore performance of gustatory delights featuring five courses with wine pairings – we rounded off the evening with a sultry hot tub soak, gazing up at millions of stars. Thanks to its remote location away from city lights, Sonora enjoys a glittering star show on clear nights, compliments of Mother Nature. The only sounds were ocean waves caressing shoreline and a chorus of frogs singing baritone.
After breakfast, we reconvened at the dock and hopped aboard a small boat for a leisurely cruise through the Gillard Islands. Kyle, our incredibly knowledgeable and personable guide, told us about the history of the local First Nations and their engagements with the first British and Spanish explorers to the area; he also relayed current local “culture”, including a particular tree decorated with bras and underpants gifted by a parade of women throughout the years. After the tour, we found a cozy inlet and lounged on the boat deck with sparkling wine and charcuterie, chatting lazily as time rolled along in tandem with the ocean currents.