Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Gorgeous Gulf Island Retreats Soothe your Body and Soul
by Nancy Snipper
Ever feel the need to heal in a tranquil place where the ocean is before you and the forest surrounds you? I recently traveled to two islands in British Columbia to stay in two extraordinary bed and breakfasts. Rooms were remarkable, and breakfasts went beyond the standard of eggs, toast and jam. Their hosts have talents that help you unwind while cocooning you in comfort and serenity - not to mention the spectacular views you get to enjoy from your own big balcony every day.
Serenity by the Sea
Last year, I suffered a back operation with an unfortunate painful outcome. I needed a retreat where I could self-reflect, distress and reset. The first place I headed for was Serenity by the Sea on Galiano Island. Luannah Livermore, its owner, is an internationally trained healer, who also happens to be a marvelous baker – among other things.
Cottages with rustic charm
Knowing I like view variation, Luannah offered me the chance to stay in two different fully equipped deluxe cottage-like cabins that nestle in the forest. Lush views greeted me every day until I moved into the main building. Perched high on a rock, this reception area has a stunning upstairs room with floor to ceiling windows and a huge balcony overlooking the sea. I could hear the lapping of waves hitting the rocks. I slept like a babe.
I looked forward to receiving her healing therapies held in her spacious studio. After talking about her plan for me, she led me to a bed made off amethyst crystals. Using an ancient Hawaiian method of treatment and combining it with others. She also uses sound and laser therapies on your body that give off vibration frequencies that actually heal pain. Indeed, every time, she applied them, my pain diminished. While massaging me for three hours, she continuously sang in the Hawaiian language to a CD playing in the background. Her 25 years of studying (five with an Elder in Hawaii) includes Lomi Lomi Temple Style. This incorporates traditional Hawaiian prayer, song, life coaching, energy release and deep joint massage and deep breathing. Body, mind and soul become integrated in her approach. Her hands were remarkably strong; her angelic voice and her directions to breathe deeply at certain key moments during her treatments deepened my relaxation and eradicated kinks. When it was over, I felt an incredible surge of energy; my body felt renewed. My spirit picked up.
Having traveled all over the world, Luannah has acquired a vast knowledge of healing therapies which she is eager to share with you. Personally, I found her guidance to be beneficial. She helps us locate in ourselves a way to accept and actually love ourselves. Esoteric as it sounds, she revealed that cells respond to good “frequencies” - that the messages we send them profoundly affect our emotions, bodily feelings – and this in turn affects how we relate to others. She also spoke about embracing both the shade and light parts along with the incongruities that we have in ourselves, and that we can learn to harmonize. She guided me in strategic ways to do this, emphasizing aloha (love). Luannah aims to bring our lives into goodness and love. “The world needs to be lovingly corrected,” she said, smiling.
I came away from the retreat looking ten years younger. Most importantly, I learned more about myself - how I was hurting myself by focusing on that which is not productive to my well-being. Certainly, my pain had greatly diminished; my ankle was stronger, and my walking was steadier. Yes, I still use my cane but not all the time now. Most of all, Luannah gave me a spiritual strategy to deal with pain, and that alone has helped me when a setback arises.
I wanted to linger longer at Serenity by the sea, not just because of her remarkable gifts, but her breakfasts were great! Those raspberry, strawberry crepes and delicate pancakes soaked in home-made caramel and chocolate sauce were out of this world. I also joined her family for a home-made Peruvian-style barbecue chicken dinner, made by her husband, Juan Carlos.
Salt Spring Island and Armand Heights B and B
Leaving Galiano, I took the two-hour ferry ride to Salt Spring Island. Here the harbor and Ganges town were buzzing with people. Still seeking solitude, I traveled further north to stay at Armand Heights – a B and B located 1000 metres above sea level. My luxurious room gave a panoramic tree-high view of mountain and ocean. I loved it. The grounds comprised almost six acres of gardens with a flourish of over 160 hybrid roses and dozens of fruit trees and herbs that Irina, the Russian owner uses in her breakfast dishes and every meal she loves to cook.
Irina Floreke, owner of this exquisite property wears many hats: she makes baroque style cakes and raises chickens whose eggs she sells at the Tuesday and Saturday Ganges markets. She also makes dozens of different flavored fruit wine, using the fruit that grows on her property. Every guest gets a complimentary bottle in their room. A home-made gourmet breakfast is delivered to each of the four rooms by Irina herself. She’ll even cook dinner for you if you ask her in advance. Her borscht was brilliant!
I came to know just how caring Irina is when on my last day I was determined to visit Truckle Park – at least a 30-minute drive from her place. But I had not rented a car. This park is reputed to be the most beautiful of all the parks on the Gulf Islands. Irina went right to work; she arranged for me to get a ride there with a couple staying in one of the rooms who also wanted to explore this park.
It was beautiful indeed with its coves and groves of trees that offered a solitary bench for gazing out to the endless blue of sea. She even wanted to know how I would get back and to call her.
Irina even drove me me to the market in Ganges, the main town, and it was here that she dragged me to her hairdresser, insisting that my hair definitely needed cutting. I appreciated Irina’s authenticity and frankness, but her hairdresser was too busy. I think she was more disappointed that I was. Clearly, Irina always puts her guests first. “I love working, but the most important thing for me is my guests. I want them to be very happy here.” I certainly was.
Salt Spring is beautiful and welcoming. Musician, Randy Bachman homes here as do many artists and creative if not maverick innovators. Parks, lakes, kayaking and festivals abound. This scintillating island has its own healing magic, and Armand Heights is part of it.