Early evening glow from the pool deck at the Brentwood Bay Resort and Spa. Photo contributed

TESS VAN STRAATEN: Brentwood Bay bliss awaits

Saanich Inlet waterfront area offers a perfect opportunity for a staycation

By Tess van Straaten

Monday Magazine columnist

Sitting on the deck of our waterfront hotel room at the Brentwood Bay Resort, I’m watching little boats and the small Mill Bay ferry come and go. It’s an idyllic scene and I feel like I’m on one of the Gulf Islands instead of just 30 minutes from downtown Victoria.

“We’re not a million miles away – it only feels like it!” says Hunter Fraser, front office manager for the award-winning boutique hotel that’s known for its exceptional service. “It’s a great place for a staycation.”

That’s exactly what my boyfriend and I are doing. We’re taking a break from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives to experience this quaint part of the South Island and recharge our batteries. After a welcome glass of cider from a nearby cidery, we head out to explore the waterfront. A short walk along the boardwalk takes us to the docks where there’s an eclectic mix of boats. It’s low tide so we watch as shore birds scavenge for dinner.

Our dinner, in the resort’s modern West Coast-style dinner room, is much fancier. Overlooking the water, we sample the three-course tasting menu. A delicious mushroom and leek soup whets our appetite. For the main course, we choose the rainbow trout with apple relish and a tasty lamb sirloin with carrot puree, which are both resplendent. Desert is a mini crème brulée, perfectly crunchy and smooth and just the right size to satisfy our need for something sweet.

After dinner, we take a dip in the resort’s heated outdoor pool, which is open year-round, before a lovely soak in the hot tub with a glass of wine. As steam rises from the surface in the cool evening air, I’m totally relaxed and looking forward to a day of paddling in Saanich Inlet.

Fried green tomatoes served up Cajun style at the Blue Bayou Café in Brentwood Bay. Photo by Tess van Straaten

“There’s no better way to explore Saanich Inlet and it’s really cool because it gets deep very quickly so the water remains very calm,” Fraser explains. “You can paddle board or kayak to Butchart Gardens and Tod Inlet and the water is almost like a Norwegian fjord as it comes down into Goldstream.”

There are paddle board and kayak rentals at the docks or you can easily launch your own. I watch as a little boy deftly maneuvers his paddle board in the calm waters. A dad with a toddler sitting on his board paddles by next. We decide to kayak and as we explore the inlet, curious seals bob in the water, watching us on our marine adventure.

After working up an appetite on the water, we walk to Blues Bayou Café, a quirky, New Orleans-inspired Cajun and Creole restaurant right on the dock. We order fried green tomatoes, which are fantastic, a generous serving of jambalaya, and crab cakes. The crazy, Mardis Gras-themed space, fantastic food, and friendly, down-home service cap off a wonderful weekend getaway.

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The Blues Bayou Café in Brentwood Bay is filled with New Orleans and Mardi Gras memorabilia and features Cajun and Creole-style cooking. Photo by Tess van Straaten

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