Where can you get picturesque island charm with moderate year-round climates (and have no chance of ever seeing a hurricane)? Where are nights filled with concerts of sound and light, days full of sights and attractions, and nature meets cosmopolitan city life in a harmonious blend? Just a quick hop from Vancouver, British Columbia, the provincial capital, Victoria, offers a refreshing palette of attractions complemented by local hospitality that is both old-fashioned yet warm and accepting of diversity. It’s no surprise that many same-sex couples come here to exchange vows, and come back for the relaxing pace.
An excellent backdrop for any ceremony, the Inn at Laurel Point sits perched overlooking the bay and inner harbor with virtually 360-degree panoramic views from the grounds. This charming yet modern independent gem has quietly played host to famous celebrities and down to earth individuals with equal hospitality and grace. Unique in its class, staff here can count their tenure in years and decades, compared to the months or few years that is typical of many comparable world class hotels.
There’s a shocking amount of art on display around the lobby and halls. We discover that it all belonged to the late owners of the hotel. Imagine our surprise when we left the elevator on our floor as we headed to our room and found a huge hallway with museum quality cases displaying beautiful artifacts including wedding kimonos, sake fermentation barrels and an authentic samurai helmet.
Designer touches blend modern Pacific Rim style with Zen flavours to deliver a decidedly understated elegance throughout the property. Rooms are available to suit a range of tastes from modest to grand, but the highlight here is the Erickson wing of suites; we stayed in a studio suite with stunning views of the inner harbour. The room welcomed us to a large and comfortable space with contemporary Asian-inspired décor. Warm colors are melded with natural woods and high quality textiles, reminiscent of the newest and chic boutique hotels around the world. Our large balcony faced west and the entrance of the inner harbor, with a view of the Japanese style gardens and the floatplanes and ships passing through the marina.
For truly momentous occasions, consider reserving an entire floor of suites, and turn the elevator lobby into your own function space. Alternatively, two grand specialty suites will build memories for a lifetime in their lavishly appointed and expansive rooms spread across a floor, or over several.
Even if you’re not staying with the Inn at Laurel Point, try a meal at Aura with its glass walls that bring Victoria’s charm to dine right along with you. The menu features Pacific coastal cuisine, a mélange of contemporary recipes using seafood and clean, fresh ingredients. The selections are diverse, to tempt a wide variety of palettes, but somehow work well together. Pan-Asian flavours are offered alongside western classics. My Crab Benny at breakfast is a perfect example of how Aura marries classic Eggs Benedict in a new interpretation featuring crab. And did I mention the food was delish?
This hotel is passionate about its commitment to Gay and Lesbian diversity, hiring openly LGBT executives, and is also a member of IGLTA. But we wanted to know how truly dedicated the property is to Gay travelers, so we grilled one of the sales managers to find out that not only does the hotel offer Gay and Lesbian weddings and the event space to hold them, but has a standing arrangement with the local marriage commissioner. Weddings here have the potential to be absolutely fabulous with multiple venues: as an example, the Terrace ballroom and patio is an all-glass space overlooking the harbour. And who wouldn’t want one or both of the palatial suites this gem has to offer?
The Inn at Laurel Point has been a fixture on the Victoria waterfront since the 1970’s with extensive recent renovations and upgrades to its modern elegance. The dedicated team of staff has been caring for this property with affection for years, and it shows. It’s gardens, for instance, have been hand tended by the same full time gardener for decades.
As guests, we didn’t just feel like we were staying in a hotel room, but rather experiencing something unique and inviting, creating lifelong memories.