Saturday, April 30, 2011

A very sophisticated overnight stay on the Sunshine Coast

I am a sucker for silent auctions, especially at worthwhile charity events. And so, while attending a wine-tasting fundraiser for a Cambodian hospital, when I noticed that no one was bidding on an overnight stay at a Sunshine Coast Inn, I bid on it. Two bids later, I was successful.

The Inn was the Bonniebrook Lodge on the ocean in Gibsons. A night's stay and gift coupon for the restaurant had been donated by Lina Jakobs and Mark Darlington, the current owners of a facility that is billed as the oldest continuously operating accommodation on the Sunshine Coast. A large, four storey heritage house, it has been extensively renovated. Our third storey view suite, dubbed the East Penthouse, was extremely well fitted out with everything one could ask for, including dressing gowns, a high quality High Definition TV/Video system, very good linens, and corner jacuzzi tub.

A surprising highlight of our stay was dinner in Chasters, their restaurant, which is apparently well known on the Sunshine Coast for the quality of the chef. While not inexpensive, it truly was a gourmet restaurant. We were out of season, and the dining room was by no means full. However, we did get into a chat with some people at the next table, one of whom, a charming older Englishman, we were told had been the director of the well known English movie, The Dambusters. His friends told us he also directed Around the World in 80 Days. So we googled him. If we're correct, he was Michael Anderson, and at the age of 90, lives nearby and is a frequent diner in the restaurant. (It was once one of Sally's favourite movies.)

The next day we explored the region, checking out properties and trying to guess real estate prices. There are a lot of properties for sale, and prices are quite high, especially for waterfront. A number of new condominium projects have been built or are being planned, no doubt catering to people from across Canada and elsewhere, who are attracted to a place called The Sunshine Coast!After checking out Sechelt this morning, we returned to Gibsons for lunch, since we were told there was a very good oyster restaurant. We found it, just below Molly's Reach, at the bottom of a wooden staircase overlooking the Marina. It's called Smitty's Oyster House, and like Chasters, serves astonishingly good foodl. It was a very sophisticated operation....the sort of place we expect to find in California, not BC. The proprietor told us that his business, and that of other good restaurants like Chasters, has been seriously affected by the new provincial drinking regulations. In fact, he indicated that he will likely close down this coming winter, since it is too hard to cover costs.As we now head back to Vancouver on the 50 minute ferry trip, I would urge those of you who haven't been to the Sunshine Coast for a while to do what we did....book a night inBonniebrook Lodge (with or without a coupon from a charity auction), have dinner in Chasters and then lunch the next day at Smitty's. But don't wait for summer, do it now, while prices are a bit lower, and the establishments need your business. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find, just like we were!

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