– Story by Lauren Kramer Photography by Don Denton
From West Shore Life + Style magazine
Winter can feel endless in the Pacific Northwest, where rainfall is an almost constant companion and the cold weather is relentless. But there are lots of options that will help take the grey out of your day, warming your body and soul with fun experiences. From nourishing spa treatments to art classes, invigorating forest forays to social gatherings with fine Vancouver Island spirits, there are many opportunities to explore a wealth of wintry fun.
Spa Solace: If your tired muscles need some relief and indulgence this winter, consider booking a Rejuvenating Arbutus Wrap at Bear Mountain’s Sante Spa.
Similar to the arbutus trees that shed their skin-like bark each year, this wrap includes a full body exfoliation to remove dry skin. A slathering of therapeutic clay over the body follows, with a wrap that gives the clay time to do its magical healing. A scalp and face massage will leave you in a state of bliss, while the 45-minute soothing cocoa butter cream body massage delivers a heavenly finale.
Relax before and after your treatment in the cedar sauna and steam room, and take time to enjoy Sante Spa’s Forest Lounge and Terrace on the Mountain. The spa’s indoor and outdoor relaxation areas boast intoxicating mountain and forest views, offering the serenity you need to unwind.
|Sarah Wilford pours a tasting sample of Akvavit at the Sheringham Distillery’s tasting room in Sooke. Photography by Don Denton|
Spirits that Shine: There’s no question that Sheringham Distillery’s akvavit is a star on the aquavit horizon.
The Sooke-based distillery’s akvavit spirit won a gold medal and was named Best in Class and Canadian Artisan Spirit of the Year at the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition last February. That’s despite the distillery’s relative newness to the scene.
Sheringham joined the distilling industry in 2015, and has distinguished itself for complex flavours that deliver a fabulous taste of the region in which they are crafted. The company’s akvavit is made by allowing Sheringham vodka to mix with caraway, dill, star anise, angelica, orris root, lemon and winged kelp.
|Sarah A gin still at the Sheringham Distillery’s tasting room in Sooke. Photography by Don Denton|
Art Smart: Winter is a great time to warm up to your creative side and the Coast Collective Gallery & Arts Centre is the place to do it. The centre showcases fine art and craft, offers art educational programs and acts as a venue for public performances and community cultural events.
Peruse the rotating artwork in the gallery, where the work of emerging and established Canadian artists and artisans is exhibited.
Keen to create your own art? Book a class in one of the artistic mediums that interests and inspires you. The broad range of educational programs includes fibre arts and fashion, jewellery design, painting, printmaking, sculpture and ceramics, and drawing and pastels.
|Sarah Looking at the art in the Coast Collective Arts Centre in Colwood. Photography by Don Denton|
Forest Forays: If you’re looking for an energizing hike with spectacular views, Gowland Todd Provincial Park is a great destination for an invigorating warm-up.
Mark, owner of Hike Victoria, is a great guide to enlist for this route; he’s a longtime hiker who knows the mountain like the back of his hand. Mark leads groups up an escarpment adorned with the dramatic, orange-brown trunks of arbutus trees that lean at precarious angles off the slope.
At 1,350 feet, hikers are rewarded with spectacular views of Finlayson Arm, a winding glacial fjord carved millions of years ago that cuts deep into Vancouver Island.
An expert at taking city folk and sharing with them his love for and deep respect of nature, Mark is also an accomplished photographer known for taking memorable photographs of hikers enjoying the great outdoors.
|A wooden bowl by Mike Ready in the Coast Collective Arts Centre in Colwood. Photography by Don Denton|