By Ilona Kauremszky
If there could be whale whisperers on site, why not head to Oak Bay Beach Hotel in Victoria to seek them.
The posh property on Vancouver Island overlooks one of Victoria’s most prized secluded bays on Canada’s dramatic Pacific Coast that has been attracting locals and those with a penchant for Old Brit Victoria charm ever since the historic hotel first opened in 1927.
Nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean near Victoria, British Columbia, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel overlooks the Juan de Fuca Strait with ocean views of snow-capped Mount Baker seen in the distance. Only minutes from quaint boutique shops, cafes, and galleries of Oak Bay Village, which is a charming bedroom community of the provincial capital, this hotel is a worthy legacy to its renowned predecessor.
The original Oak Bay Beach Hotel underwent a few reincarnations with a major $52CDN-million revamp that saw each brick, beam and leaded window labeled and stored during a 6 year refurbishment that restored and expanded the hotel’s footprint to what you see today.
These days those seeking wellness arrive to soak in the scenery and if you’re super lucky you just might catch views of whales slapping their back fins. It’s not unusual to see whales in summer months. Failing that the outdoor wellness heated pool’s stylized mosaic tile depicts a ring of Orcas embedded on the pool floor.
Is it any wonder then that maestro extraordinaire, the one and only 16 time Grammy-award-winning composer David Foster has ties to this Grande Dame? Foster who hails from Victoria is the quintessential local boy done good. At the hotel see a Wall of Fame, pictures of celebrities whose star-studded career he has fostered (no pun intended) from the likes of Michael Buble, Celine Dion to the late great Whitney Houston. Their images in most cases hugging a Grammy standing beside Foster hang outside the meeting room aptly named after him.
Drop by the dinner theater named after Foster’s Foundation, an event venue that can host up to 250 guests. The hotel has a “Give Back” element partnering with the David Foster Foundation charity. Proceeds from ticket sales and event room rentals go back to his foundation. Don’t be surprised to see David Foster drop by unexpectedly either. He’d known to tickle the ivories of the lobby’s grand piano. The hotel has also been a backdrop for an annual vintage car rally known as the Oak Bay Collector Car Festival. Car buffs like the owner who is an avid car collector take to the streets of Oak Bay Village in fine retro style.
Now why should you stay?
Oak Bay Beach Hotel Highlights
The luxury hotel has been rated Victoria’s best hotel by a local publisher Black Press Media, beating out the other Grande Dame, the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
The Boathouse Spa has been voted one of Canada’s Top 25 Spas by Spa Inc. Located at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Strait, this opened year-round venue which closes nightly at midnight gets spa goers to enjoy a nice soak day or night.
The hotel has a changing art exhibit of original Canadian artists, a partnership with Winchester Galleries, a local art gallery. Each hotel room also features an original Canadian artist.
The wellness heated pools with mineral-rich waters are for adults-only.
This 100-room luxe property boasts four room categories with your choice of views, be it views of the seaside community of Oak Bay, the Oak Bay Marina, or the dramatic Pacific Ocean. Standard guest rooms are spacious from 375 to 500 square feet with marina, ocean, or courtyard/city views. Each room has a custom pillow-top mattress, spa-inspired bathrooms with heated tile floors, HDTV, a fireplace, and galley kitchen. If it feels like a home away from home – that’s the ambiance with the winning touch. Guests will easily feel like extending a stay once they unpack.
The larger one-bedroom suites which come in 600-760 square feet have a separate bedroom with a king bed and have a few additional bells and whistles added like a pair of fireplaces and HDTVs as well as a dining area. The living room has a pull-out sofa too.
Chauffeur service offers complimentary rides to the neighborhood of Oak Bay which has a shopping area lined with restaurants. All hotel guests have full access to the heated seaside mineral pools. You get luxurious amenities without the resort fees, such as complimentary parking and high-speed Wi-Fi everything to make your stay stress-free.
On Sunday mornings hotel guests can inhale and exhale by the seaside gardens in a fabulous alfresco yoga class.
Away from the downtown the big selling feature goes back to the spa. Spend a day switching beach blanket locations. Oak Bay Beach Hotel partners with Les Clefs d’Or Concierge Services that accentuates “Your Key to Everything” to ensure the very best guest experience.
In February try out the Wellness retreats.
Three restaurants are available. Head to the anchor restaurant The Dining Room open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and reserve a window seat. Dining is its own sumptuous affair. Reservations are compulsory as the intimate venue seats 34 patrons who enjoy stunning ocean views. It’s also ‘the’ place in Victoria.
For more low-key, grab and go style Kate’s Cafe sets this mood.
Don’t be surprised to spot locals at The Snug Pub lingering for hours on end with their favorite bevvie as the interiors evoke a time of yesteryear. The iconic pub dates back to 1954 and was Victoria’s first neighborhood pub. It’s a place you could find British staples like the classic fish and chips to more coastal cuisine. Seating comes at a premium. No reservations so it’s best to get here early.
A Grand Dame for the Modern Ages, the renovated hotel showcases wellness and offers well-healed travelers the perfect respite. It’s a vacay from the vacay.
You can make your booking at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel website. Room rates are seasonal. Summer rates start from $450 CDN and winter rates star from $250 CDN. Guests are encouraged to sign up for an online hotel newsletter for latest promotions.
You can also check rates at Expedia, Hotels.com or other OTAs.
Photography by Stephen Smith + supplied.
Ilona Kauremszky was a guest of Oak Bay Beach Hotel which did not approve this editorial.