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I was recently pampered with a two-night stay at luxurious Hastings House on Salt Spring Island. While I’ve been to Salt Spring several times, I had yet to enjoy this corner of the island, close enough to downtown Ganges yet far enough away to appreciate the solitude and nature that helps define this Relais & Chateaux property.

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The welcoming hotel grounds are filled with fragrant flowers and colourful birds, all with a view to Ganges Harbour. The rooms are quiet and warm, with a super comfy bed and lots of sitting space to relax and do nothing.

Hastings House Resident Hummingbird

Salt Spring Island is a place to escape from daily stress and the bustling city pace. The locals are super friendly and know how special this place is. The big ‘to-do’ list of daily life quickly gives way to where to go for a hike, enjoy a freshly-brewed organic coffee, check out one of the numerous studios on the island or simply breathe in the sea air.

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Hastings House is named after Barbara and Warren Hastings, owners of the Salt Spring Island property from 1939 to 1980. The newly-married couple from the UK lived in the original farmhouse and continued farming while planning their new home.

They’d decided to move their goods from England to Canada to settle permanently, however their timing was poor: England was preparing to go to war. They made a pact that if their belongings arrived safely, they’d build a home similar to the 11th century English manor home in Kent that they’d left behind.

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Luck was on their side; had their furnishings been lost at sea, a log home would be standing in the same spot as the beautiful country home is in today.

The history, recounted in a book inside the Manor House living room and lounge, tells of lost loves, horsemanship, and the house’s various periods of construction. The property was purchased by Donald Cross and Shan Cross in 1980, with the goal of creating a country-style resort. Former guests/current owners Bonny O’Connor and Jerry Parks later purchased the property in 1995 after learning that Donald and Shan were planning on selling it.

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[Post Cottage]

I was happily settled into the Post cottage, the property’s inaugural building. It also served as the first Hudson’s Bay Trading Post on Salt Spring Island!

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The Post was later finished in stucco to match the Manor House and Farmhouse, yet it retains its original floors from the 1800’s.

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Wood beams and fresh flowers greeted me at the Post cottage for my two night stay.

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Once the rain let up, I wandered around the garden, walking along the manicured veggie patch and into the moss-covered forest. Within moments, I’d landed in a lush forest solitude, the only sounds coming from the birds.

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[Yummy afternoon treats to go with the teas]

Completely enveloped in my own serene space, I joined a few fellow guests for afternoon tea, scones, and cookies by the wood-burning fireplace. The Manor House living room is stocked with books of local interest, the hotel’s history, and nature. On one afternoon, a couple was set up at the window table playing a game of Scrabble.

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A lovely trail on the property leads to a sculpture garden. Several locals artists have their works displayed around the property, including Robert Bateman, Michael Hames, Louise Woodward and Jill Louise Campbell. Many pieces are for sale.

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Days can be spent simply relaxing with a book or exploring Ganges town, a 10-minute easy walk down the road.

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[Hastings House is an enchanted place to hang out, but don’t just take my word for it!]

Warm muffins are brought to your door early in the morning, and coffee and tea are in the room to start the day prior to a fantastic full English breakfast served in the dining room.

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The breakfast menu also features a daily special. I’ll be posting a separate dining feature later today.

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[A great start to the morning: breakfast at Hastings House]

With three days filled with relaxing moments in the heart of nature, it was hard to tear myself away from the cozy Post cottage to head home to Vancouver. Everything about Hastings House is top-notch, from service to food.

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An experience on Salt Spring Island can be anything from being out for the day on hikes and studio tours to curling up with a book in one of Hasting House’s many cozy nook and garden spaces.

Salt Spring Island June 2012

I arrived by Salt Spring Air, an easy way to get to Salt Spring in 30 minutes, with a driver from the inn waiting for you on the other end. Returning to the Salt Spring Air terminal or to one of the ferry docks is also easily arranged.

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Whatever your chosen mode of transport, make sure to block off plenty of time to enjoy Hastings House.

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Guest Amenities

– 18 suites and rooms located in the main house or nearby historic outbuildings
– Guest parking
– Flatscreen TV equipped with lots of cable channels
Molton Brown skincare and bath products in bathroom
– Turndown service
– Wake-up morning hamper with baked goods at 7:30 am daily
– A full English breakfast served in the dining room from 8 to 10 am daily
– Picnic menus and lunch with advance notice can be accommodated.
– Afternoon tea from 3:30 to 4:30 daily in the Manor House living room
– Suites equipped with coffee machines, coffee pods, and tea
– Housekeeping begins when you ‘Put out the cat’, a fabric kitty with one side for ‘privacy’ and the other to ‘service the room’
– The Spa at Hastings House offers massage and body treatments, aromatic steam showers, body wraps, manis and pedis (with advance booking)

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My stay at the Hastings House was courtesy of the Hastings House Country House Hotel. My return flight to Salt Spring was graciously provided by Salt Spring Air, a friendly travel service I’ve used on previous trips to the island.


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