Thinking of taking a wellness Fall/Winter retreat to The Southern Gulf Islands, in B.C.? Before visiting one of the islands on the Salish Sea; Galiano, Mayne, Pender, Salt Spring and Saturna, careful planning is the key to a safe and healthy trip during the pandemic.
In an interview, Jacqueline East, general manager of the Southern Gulf Islands Tourism Partnership Society describes her vision by sharing five “know before you go” tips inspired by doing a bit of research in advance. The Southern Gulf Islands, tucked between the mainland coast of British Columbia and Vancouver Island, is known for its unique ecosystems and also known for their wineries, local artists, farm stands, and popular outdoor activities.
During the pandemic, Jacqueline noted, “Well, it’s been interesting, lots of our local small businesses have had to innovate and adapt. They don’t see themselves as a typical tourist destination. In some ways the pandemic has heightened attention to the need for these islands to seek better ways to present themselves one that fits with the health of the whole ecosystem. And since Islanders take health and safety very seriously, they’re great role models. We encourage visitors to come prepared and also understand the importance of sustaining the delicate ecosystems that we always talk about on the Island.”
She continues, “And it reminded us, Hey, don’t forget the people who live here. It’s a very rural and remote area. So the pandemic has made us very aware that these islands deserve special care as places where you can also embrace the balance of living in nature with preserving and protecting this desired destination.”
While being mindful of the natural environment and the locals who live there and their community, their initiative “own your experience” offers the urban traveler a transformative and renewing adventure that includes things like forest bathing, hiking, beach walks, healing treatments, journaling, incredible views, and farm to plate dining.
“And so there is a wellness element on these remote Islands, and at the same time, I think there’s a trend in society with a focus on a return to wellbeing. That seems to be something that matched really well with this idea of retreating to the Southern Gulf Islands, and also connecting with the land and with island culture. There’s a culture shift that people are going to experience when they step off that ferry or, or pull up to the dock. And I think knowing that ahead of time will help people feel more at home if they plan ahead. We like to think of it as island time, not so much being pampered as enjoying a respite in nature and returning home ready to take on what’s next.
Here are the five tips visitors can do to “own your experience”:
- Come prepared to tread lightly, know before you go that when you arrive on-island you become part of a delicate ecosystem. The human element is particularly fragile during COVID-19 and you can pre-plan here.
- Book your stay here, and click on Retreat
- Carve out an experience that speaks to your sensibilities, whether active and busy or more laid back and quiet
- Ask your host to provide you with a tailored ‘own your experience’ list of activities that fit with island possibilities and your expectations
- Be open to learning about your surroundings and your self. Take the new you home
Here’s a sample of activities found on the Southern Gulf Islands with a complete range of self-discovery options. Visitors can book a fully furnished cottage or villa for a pack-it-in and take-it-out adventure. Or plan an exclusive, upscale experience at a country-house hotel or resort, complemented with fine dining and relaxing spa treatments. Or those who prefer to work by day and enjoy the stars at night, can take advantage with a longer visit and take your ‘home work” with you. Many accommodations offer high speed Internet and courier services so the transition to working at home, but on the Southern Gulf Islands, is seamless. Coming to this bastion of tranquility, where seclusion is abundant, visitors will find their place on the raw edge of the world, and we can take care of the REST.
Jacqueline says, “Every place is going to be different with a pet policy, but lots of them are pet friendly. That’s going to be part of that owning your experience.”
Visitors are encouraged to go to the website to learn more and book a stay.
More Inspiration: Check out this article on Nordic Walking, which you may want to try if you head to B.C. this fall!
Author: Christine Blanchette is a freelance writer for Optimyz Magazine print and digital issues and sometimes helps with editing.
Feature Photo Credit: Hastings House