I recently had the opportunity to escape the city for 24 hours to Harrison Hot Springs. Now, you, like me, might associate Harrison with summer: the lake is great for boating and swimming, and it’s a popular camping destination for families.
But what about when the colder weather comes and it’s no longer practical to sleep out in a tent? Or maybe you weren’t the camping type to start with. Maybe spas, dinner and dancing and hot tubs are more your style? Well, either way, you want The Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. The original hotel was built in 1886, as a kind of ‘healing spa’ for those who wanted to benefit from the natural hot springs. That hotel was destroyed by fire, but the one that stands there now was built in 1925. While it’s been updated and modernized, it still has much of the charm of that heritage building, especially in the original parts of the hotel. It’s a common sight to see guests of the hotel wandering the halls in white bathrobes heading to and from the on-site hot springs.
I had a beautiful room overlooking the lake, with all the amenities: huge, comfy beds, a gorgeous rain-showerhead, spa-quality toiletries, a mini-bar to keep my drinks cool, flat screen TV with movies and video games and free wifi.
Next, it was off to The Healing Springs Spa for a relaxing massage. I was no sooner in the door, than I was handed a glass of wine and some lemon water and encouraged to relax by the fire in a chaise lounge. My masseuse, Deborah, was a wonderful, warm woman, who had recently left her career as a nurse to become an RMT. She was clearly in love with her job and I felt amazing after she was done. The spa also offers a full range of aesthetic services and has one room with its own private hot tub and a starry ceiling for couples’ services.
The Resort offers five different pools, all fed by the mineral hot springs. It is the only hotel in Harrison that has access to the hot springs on site. There’s something here for everyone: a longer, cooler pool for swimming laps, and warmer, outdoor pools for lounging and splashing with the kids. There’s even a hot tub inside, although there is something magical about being in a warm pool in the dark while it’s raining with mist coming up, and fairy lights in the trees all around.
My night ended at The Copper Room. Now, I have to confess, when I walked in the door, my jaw dropped. The Copper Room is like walking back in time about 50 years. It was like being on the set of Mad Men. There is a huge, beautiful, lit-up dance floor, surrounded in a semi-circle by tables dressed with crisp, white tablecloths and sparkling cutlery. There is a huge bandshell, and a live band playing all night long. Dinner is a minimum of three courses, and dancing is encouraged. I kept expecting to glance over at the next table and see my parents on their first date. I couldn’t stop smiling all night long; this was a place for celebration – anniversaries, weddings and life.
After a great sleep, I headed to The Lakeside Cafe for breakfast. It may have been the most awe-inspiring breakfast buffet I’ve ever seen (or maybe I haven’t seen enough breakfast buffets?). There was everything your heart could possibly desire: breads and pastries, cereal, yogourt, fruit. Then hot entrees: two different types of potatoes, ham, sausage, bacon, pancakes, two different kinds of eggs. And finally, there was a made-to-order omelette station, where a chef in a tall white hat would whip you up a fluffy omelette with your choice of ingredients.
I ended my one-day getaway with an Eco Tour on the Harrison River. My guide took me by boat down the Harrison River into the Fraser River, where we attempted to fish for Sturgeon (Salmon are also plentiful this time of the year). We didn’t have any luck, but we did watch another guy catch (and then release) a 7.5 ft sturgeon. It was a pretty fantastic experience!
All in all, it was an exciting, adventure-packed, relaxing twenty-four hours. The great thing about Harrison is that it’s only a 90-minute drive from the city. It’s so close by, but when you get there, it’s like being on vacation. I’d highly recommend it for families, or for a romantic getaway for you and your partner. I could also see myself coming here and doing a girl’s spa weekend. It has something to make everyone happy.
The surroundings, the history, the staff – there really is something magical about Harrison Hot Springs Resort.
Disclaimer: the author stayed as a guest of the Harrison Hot Springs Resort.