A piece of heaven on Haro Strait

With its three outdoor mineral pools and sweeping views, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s Boathouse Spa & Baths sets a high bar

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VICTORIA, BC Aug 25, 2015/ Troy Media/ – As I bike up to Oak Bay Beach Hotel, a deer is wandering out of the courtyard.

The luxury boutique hotel is just a 20-minute bike ride from downtown Victoria, but its leafy oceanfront location makes it feel more like a secluded retreat.

I once saw a picture of the hotel’s seaside hot mineral pools and have been itching to visit ever since. As a spa-lover, I’ve been treating it as my personal mission to find the best spa on southern Vancouver Island (tough life, I know!).

With its three outdoor mineral pools and sweeping views of Haro Strait and Mount Baker, the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s Boathouse Spa & Baths sets the bar high.

The five-star hotel has been around since 1928 but recently went through a six-year re-building process, which finished in December 2012. Styled after an English country manor house, the hotel houses a pub, café and formal dining room and hosts dinner theatres and movie nights in a custom-built theatre.

But back to the point: the spa. Hot pools on the Haro Strait? Yes, please! Nowhere else in the Victoria area offers such an indulgent oceanfront experience.

We arrived an hour early and headed down the trail behind the hotel to the extra-secluded spa facilities, where we slipped into soft robes and headed straight to the hot pools. We had one of the pools all to ourselves and luxuriated in the views. Just as we began to think life couldn’t get any better, a waiter arrived and took our wine order.

Lounging on the pool deck, wine in hand, ocean lapping just beneath us, we soaked up some early summer sunshine. Only the promise of someone kneading our bodies for an hour could lure us away from this scene.

My friend headed off for her one-hour sport massage ($130), while I slipped into a treatment room in yet another secluded building for an organic seaweed facial ($120). The treatment uses mild exfoliation and a treatment mask, which combines a gel enzyme mask with a seaweed concentrate designed to offer a “detox boost to your skin.”

My skin specialist was excellent and gave me a divine scalp and foot massage on top of all the magic she worked on my skin. I emerged with a sublime glow to find my friend in a similar state from a massage she described as divine.

All of this lying around being pampered made us hungry so, on our way for a second round in the hot pools, we ordered sushi and a prawn salad. This is the one area in which the Oak Bay Beach Hotel let us down – the food selection poolside came pre-packaged from a fridge. That would be OK if it was made clear on the menu, but it wasn’t, so our expectations exceeded the delivery.

Still, it would have taken more than pre-packed sushi to dampen our spirits at this point. After our snack we made a stop in the eucalyptus steam room before deciding we’re thoroughly pampered out – for this trip at least. We’re already plotting to come back.

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