Friday, April 8, 2016

Harrison Hot Springs Getaway - April 6 & 7, 2016

I like Harrison.  When my son was little, I took him here to get away.  He also camped with Scouts here when he was young.  It's a beautiful spot about a two hour drive away from my home in Vancouver.  Since it had been so long (14 years?), we decided it was time for a return visit.  We decided to splurge and get the best room and stay at the nicest hotel in Harrison.  I sure couldn't afford to take my son here when I was a single mom, raising him.  So, now we could do that!


These two nights wouldn't be cheap as after tax it came to $650.  However, that did include a lake view room, dinner in their fine dining restaurant one evening, and a breakfast buffet in their casual restaurant for our stay.  The resort also has five natural mineral hot spring pools which we would have access to.  We were both looking forward to this.

Wednesday, April 6th:

I woke up tired and really didn't feel like going, to be honest.  The sun wasn't shining as was forecasted either, it seemed cold and gray.  I absolutely detest driving, so trips like this are rare and not high on my list.  My car, which I bought brand new in 2002, at time of writing this, has just over 38,000 kilometers on it, which tells you how much I like driving...  I drove choosing Highway 1 the entire way to the Aggasiz exit, leaving my house around noon.  The drive was simple all the way to the exit.  We used his iPhone for the directions to the hotel with only one wrong turn, one time.  It took about an hour and 45 minutes total.  They let us check in right away so by 2pm, we were in the room and settled.  My son didn't have his iPhone charger though, so it was lucky the hotel offered to charge it for him.  They wouldn't let you borrow the cable, but they would charge it, so that was fine.

I'll start with my East Tower, room view "money" shot, below...yes, I zoomed in for it, but that was the centerpiece of looking over the balcony.  Gorgeous!


Panoramic view from our balcony

Let's be honest, I wasn't thrilled with the room.  For the price, I just expected a little more.  The t.v. wasn't even HD.  The carpet had stains and lots of other wear and tear throughout the room.  The staff was friendly though the friendliness seemed forced and indifferent, and other little minor things... normally I don't even look at things like this or CARE, but it was because of the price that I did.  The view was amazing though and I got what I asked for in that respect.


We were pretty hungry so decided to grab a bite somewhere.  I remember going to this pub with my friend last time and it was nice and was like a log cabin.  We found it pretty easily walking around, and it was called the Old Settler Pub.


It was very quiet in there, only a couple of people.  In fact, the whole town seemed like a ghost town right now.  Staff was friendly and we ordered an appy platter for two for $15.


Unfortunately the food was packaged frozen crap and very pedestrian.  We bought some water for the room at a convenience store and dropped it off.

We decided to take a walk around the lake and go look at the cabins we used to stay at.  They were still there.  The walk felt good and there was a nice breeze and scenery that was very relaxing and calming.





We walked for just about an hour and then went to the hotel for a drink.  We found the "Island Bar" and went in for a cocktail.


Staff was genuinely nice and friendly and we enjoyed our drinks.

It was about 8pm now so we decided to head out to dinner.  I looked online at reviews and realized that Harrison was not going to be a "foodie" town by any means.  We elected to go to the #1 rated place on ALL of the food sites like Yelp.  That happened to be Village Pizzeria.  All the restaurants we walked by were empty, but at least this pizza place had people in it.  That was encouraging.  Staff seemed family run and were very nice.  No alcohol served here.  This was a small little place, like a coffee shop.  We started with a Caesar salad for two and that was ok.  At least the lettuce was fresh and crisp.


#7 - Teriyaki Chicken (medium)

#11 - Chef's Special (small)

The pizza was good.  We both enjoyed it.  It certainly wasn't the best we've ever had, but there was nothing to complain about.  If this was the highest rated #1 place in Harrison, then I knew there wasn't anymore looking to do, for other places...

We went back to the hotel and went to the pools.  I took the shots below before it was dark.






Now this is what you get for your money! The pools are so soothing & almost as hot as a bath.  Totally comforting.  Plus, they are open late.  The indoor ones are open until 1am and the outdoor until 11pm.  We really enjoyed this, it was like huge hot tubs in the dark. We stayed right until 11, showered and went to bed (comfy beds!), both falling asleep while watching Stephen Colbert bash Donald Trump on the non-HD t.v.  ;)

Thursday, April 7th:

I awoke to see a beautiful day on the horizon.  I got out of bed at 8:30 and headed for the shower shortly after.  We picked up my son's phone at the front desk.  It was 100% charged. We then went to the Lakeside Cafe for our breakfast buffet.


View from our table - a little warmer outside and to sit out there, the view would be incredible

We saw that the credit on our receipt was worth $44.  The price of two buffets.  It was actually pretty good.  It's hard to screw up breakfast and they didn't.  They had an omelette station, the usual bacon, sausages, hash browns, scrambled eggs, pastries/muffins, fruit, toast station, cereals - hot & cold, yogurts, waffles, and lox/cream cheese.  All juices as well.  Coffee was served in a pot to your table.


We didn't have cash on us and asked our server how the gratuities worked.  My concern was with the guy making the omelettes.  I usually tip them cash.  She said he was not included in the gratuities and worked for tips.  I was disappointed but without cash, there wasn't much I could do now.  :(  I hoped he would be back tomorrow so I could make it up.

We went for another walk, this time starting to the left of our hotel.





This brought us to a place called "The Source" which is what feeds the hot springs pools at our hotel.



We went as far as we could walk and then turned around and did the walk we did yesterday and back.




It turns out, this wasn't that far. My son's iPhone app said it was only 4 kilometers - our whole walk.  Oh well, it was better than no walk.  Below, the hotel told me is an "Ornamental Cherry Blossom Tree".  These were all over Harrison, though the hotel we stayed at seemed to have the most on their property.


My son was feeling "under the weather" since yesterday - sore throat and minor cough.  We went to the Island Bar and he had tea with honey.  I had an Irish coffee.  We sat there until it was time for him to get his massage.  A 55 minute massage was $120 pre-tax and gratuity.



I left him there and went back down the strip to get a fridge magnet from one of the shops.


Once I got back to the room, he showed up shortly after.  We decided to go down to the pools for a while.  He swam, I just lounged enjoying the fresh air.



We decided we were peckish so went back to the lounge and sat on the outside patio.  My son had more tea & honey and I had a "Manhattan".


We ordered dry ribs and wings.  These were ok, about what we expected.  The ribs were above average though they didn't look like they would be.



It started to get chillier as evening approached so we went back to the room to relax and chill until our dinner reservation at 8pm for the Copper Room.



There was a live band with a dance floor.  This dining room was HUGE!  I asked the waiter if it ever got full and he said every Saturday night.  The band played old time hits - I'm not sure my son knew any of the songs, if he did, it wasn't by the original singers.  The emptiness of such a large room kind of made me feel like I was at the "Overlook Hotel" from the Stephen King novel, "The Shining".  It felt like a setting from long, long ago...

Our set menu included 3 courses, as below.  We were given a choice of this menu or a $42 credit each to the main menu choices.  We ordered an appy from the main menu of Scallops and Pork Belly for $20.  I chose the trout as my entree and my son picked the filet mignon.







My trout portion was humongous!  I wasn't expecting that.  Everything up to this point was very good.  I wouldn't say it was great and it wasn't "Nouvelle Cuisine", but there was nothing to complain about.  It was well done with good flavours (son didn't like the gratin potatoes but I did) and service was very good.  I gave my son my dessert after a bite.  It really did nothing for me at all, but he did a good job at almost finishing both!


This took us till about 10:30pm.  We were soooo stuffed, and now tired.  Our hopes of going back to the pools for one more evening swim did not happen.  We dropped his iPhone off at the front desk again for charging.  We went back to the room and slept almost immediately.  We woke early at 7am.  We had a Bailey's coffee.

We decided to shower, pack and go for breakfast at the buffet (I tipped the omelette guy).  We left the hotel at 8:45am.  Thanks to google maps navigation on the iPhone, we were home an hour and forty minutes later.  It was nice to go back to Harrison.  We discussed it, and both agreed that if we do another "local getaway" it will be Whistler.  There is more to do and the scenery is just as beautiful, if not more so.  Harrison was expensive and comparable to Whistler prices.  A great destination for families with young kids.  There isn't a lot for adults in the evenings, unfortunately.  However, if you just wanted to relax and do nothing, this would be a great place for that.  The hot springs pools are incredible!  Below is another shot of "The Source" hot springs and then Harrison lake (again) in the picture under that.