I wasn’t going to write about Vancouver Island. This was a family trip, and I was off the clock. But as anyone who’s visited the area can attest, the island makes plans of its own. The mountains and all their majesty and the sea with its cerulean sprawl, it’s hard to not wonder if we’ve stepped inside some National Geographic photo, the kind you never really believe is real. Arriving at Villa Eyrie Resort, on British Columbia’s famed Vancouver Island, the vistas are so captivating and the experience so elevating, their escape to the sky invite feels like a woeful undersell.
Tucked up in the halcyon clouds above the Pacific and the Finlayson Arm Inlet, Villa Eyrie Resort perches proudly atop the mountain, saturating your senses with panoramas so stunning, it’s impossible to absorb them all at once. Graduations of green define the Vancouver Island skyline, where from up on the mountainside, it feels like an enclave exclusively intended for you and the eagles within eyeshot. Frequent fliers that they are.
Stylistically, it is airy, earthy, contemporary and clean. Interiors emanate something Tuscan inspired; modern, stark, and simplified. French doors and bordello arches frame the non-stop scenery: interiors deliberately designed to downplay their presence, with the clear visual winner out the wide, wrap around windows. So much space. Up on those balconies, looking down upon all that green grandeur, one might easily believe they have booked a suite on Cosette’s castle on a cloud.
Though I’d have to say the castle’s exteriors could do with a refresh. A little stonework and they’d be lining up down the mountain.
Meanwhile, the island’s invitation for adventure is rampant. Hiking on and around the Kinsol Trestle, one of the highest of its kind in the world, is the fantastical actualization of walking on a roller coaster. It isn’t one, of course, but it is the largest wooden railway trestle in the Commonwealth of Nations. And exploring it, up it, around it, and down it, is a self-guided thrill ride by foot, compliments of masterful engineers, farmers, loggers, and Mother Nature’s luscious free-falling landscapes.
While you’re free falling, the zip lining at Adrena LINE is an outrageous good time. The course covers stunning terrain, the elevations, epic, and the flight, well, that’s all you and the air beneath. For literally, thousands of feet, you fly (in a harness, but still, flying). The island’s only canopy zipline tour, and they own the title well. Carve out a few hours and make this happen, it is more than worth the price of admission.
Ropes coursing on the island is excellent too, if that’s your thing. We took our crave to climb over to WildPlay Element Parks, where parents can participate on the kids course (with their kids, they’ll scoot you over to the adult course without them), which by no means, is unchallenging. Tightrope walking up there in trees, swinging between the vines, one rickety ladder walk unto the next, it’s one more vantage point over Vancouver Island that makes it feel less precious, more like your private playground.
The time we spent exploring the island was completely insufficient, we could have done with a good few more days to take in all its bounty. I recommend a week at minimum, if you can swing it. The days fly by, particularly when you’re flying over them, leaving way too much beauty unexplored. The good news is, coming from the west coast, it’s a quick trip involving relatively easy international travel. A theory I hope to retest sooner than later.
Villa Eyrie Resort, 600 Ebadora Lane, Malahat, BC, V0R 2L0, Canada.
Adrena LINE, 5128C Sooke Rd, Sooke, BC, V9Z 0E2, Canada.
WildPlay Element Parks, 15-1767 Island Highway, Victoria, BC, V9B 1J1, Canada.
Insider Tip: Make some dinner reservations or do your research before you arrive. If you’re staying at Villa Eyrie, there is one restaurant and the menu does not reflect much change.
Jolie Loeb is a Luxury Lifestyle columnist based in Los Angeles.
Photos by Jolie Loeb