The sun is just breaking through the clouds over Kootenay Lake when I tiptoe out of my room and down to the waterside yoga studio. On a road trip through British Columbia’s West Kootenays region, en route from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies, I’ve stopped overnight at The Sentinel, a lakeside wellness retreat outside the town of Kaslo, and I’m hoping that some gentle early-morning stretches and downward dogs will loosen up my limbs before I get back in the car.
Looking at the lake as I limber up, I’m already regretting that my stay in this lovely lakeview setting has been just one night. Here’s the scoop:
About The Sentinel
Husband-and-wife owners Richard Kay and Gillian Maxwell opened The Sentinel in the spring of 2018, as a destination for both organized and self-guided wellness retreats and as a relaxing lodging for travelers passing through the region or wanting a quiet getaway. Overlooking Kootenay Lake, the property is about a 10-minute drive south of Kaslo, and an hour northeast of the mountain town of Nelson.
A timber-framed, window-lined roundhouse houses the yoga studio, which individual guests can use — as I did — for their own yoga, exercise, or other practice, unless a group has reserved the space for a retreat (which are scheduled periodically throughout the year).
The main “house,” located between the yoga studio and the guest room building, houses common space, including the dining area where breakfast is served. On the lower level is a modern guest lounge, lined with windows facing the lake, where guests can hang out, make themselves a cup of tea, or store their drinks or snacks in the guest fridge.
If you’re desperate to get online, plan to access the complimentary wi-fi in the lounge; the signal doesn’t necessarily reach all the guest rooms.
Guest Rooms and Amenities
Two of The Sentinel’s 10 Zen-like guest rooms are located in the yoga building, while the rest are set in a contemporary two-story block overlooking the lake.
Simple and comfortable, the rooms are furnished with blond woods, braided rugs, puffy white duvets, and colorful pillows.
Decorated with lovely tile work, the bathrooms have rain showers and welcome heated floors.
Co-owner Richard, who was born in New Zealand and trained as a chef, oversees the ample breakfasts, served in the living-dining room area of the main house, which looks out over the lake. Guests can make themselves an espresso or cappuccino or choose from a selection of teas to accompany their morning meals.
During my stay, the breakfast offerings included a hearty oatmeal with hemp, goji berries, and banana, served with a berry compote, thick Greek yogurt paired with fresh blueberries and homemade granola, and a vegetable frittata served with sautéed greens from the property’s garden.
There was a delicious coffee cake for dessert, because even when you’re focusing on wellness, dessert brings pleasure, right?
Outdoor Sauna and Hot Tub
One of the loveliest spots on The Sentinel’s grounds is the lakeview deck, surrounded by evergreens, where guests can enjoy the wood-fueled sauna and a soak in the hot tub.
The property has a small pebbly beach on Kootenay Lake, below the deck. You can borrow a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to explore the water, and Gillian suggested taking a quick swim in the always-chilly lake, then sprinting up the hill and into the hot tub.
Alas, on my all-too-short visit, I wasn’t able to try out her recommendation, but I’m already working on a plan for a more extended wellness escape. And if your New Year’s goals include a wellness getaway in western Canada’s mountains, consider adding The Sentinel to your itinerary.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, in partnership with The Sentinel, arranged my stay for review purposes.