Harrison Hot Springs

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Photo by Allan Kissam

Bike. Hike. Dine. Soak. Sip.  That pretty much sums up one of Canada’s most frequented vacation spots.  Beloved by both locals and visitors Harrison Hot Springs can be found surrounded by Southwestern British Columbia’s glorious mountains. The sandy beaches of Harrison Lake ripple to the edge of the town and tiny Harrison Village finishes the picture with small tourist-related businesses. It is destination filled with rich agriculture and natural wonders you won’t see elsewhere in the world. The world-famous BC hot springs is the preverbal icing on the cake.

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Photo by Allan Kissam

Harrison Hot Springs is a mix of adventures. I remember it (from 20 years ago) as a high end getaway where adults could renew, relax and reboot in a quiet private setting.  It has changed quite a bit to a place where kids rule the morning to late afternoon and an adult romantic getaway or fun-filled trip with 25+ year old friends begins after dark.  In general it has what you are after if you enjoy watersports, boat tours, wildlife viewing, hiking, golfing, spas, agricultural-tours, fishing, festivals and events, waterfront accommodations and dining. It is also extremely crowded during peak tines of the year. Just saying.

It is a wandering 3 hour drive from Seattle and a short 90 minute drive east of Vancouver.  Crossing the border from or into the US is iffy at best.  Sometimes you will sail right through, other times you will be subjected to a full car search that can take up to an hour once they pull you out of line. You will need your passport.

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Photo by Allan Kissam

Harrison Hot Springs has hotels, motels. B&B’s and accommodations to suit every budget.  As we did over 20 years ago, we stayed at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa.  My recollection of this property was upscale all the way.  What I found with this visit was not quite what I remember.

For the best value, buy one of their packages that include your room, dinner and pool privileges. At check in you will be treated to a brilliant smile and warm smile. The rooms are aging unfortunately.  Our bathroom door was broken, the wall sockets were loose and one of the pillows had a blood stain. Not exactly upscale. On the plus side,the internet did work well. Our view was magnificent and the room was large and comfortable, but not as I had hoped for.

dreamstime_xs_38674323Breakfast is plentiful and served as a buffet with most of the packages.  It is a noisy affair with families getting themselves prepared for the day.  You will be well fed, but your ears are likely to hurt from all the noise and excess activity.

 

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Photo by Allan Kissam

The dinner was quite interesting.  Our package included a “chefs dinner” coupon.  My seafood dinner was lovely, my husband couldn’t chew his steak.  The waitress was understanding, but the “moment” was ruined for us. Lots of good menu and wine choices. Expect a lively band throughout dinner.  Dancing is encouraged and quite entertaining.  Since the price point was fairly high, the crowd was mostly adults.  That being said, there were several grandparents with children in tow dancing to the tunes along with the fancy adult dancers.

dreamstime_xs_64656568There are several pools on the property.  The warm springs make for a wonderful relaxing experience.  Just note that families take over the pools during the days.  Dedicated “adult” soaks occur from 10-11 pm. There is one pool dedicated to adults.  I had a very hard time finding anyplace to “soak.” Once in, I had my “ahhh” moment and stayed over an hour.  Frankly there were just too many people enjoying the facilities.

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Photo by Allan Kissam

A walk in the small town was fun and a drive to experience the Circle Farm Tour was a particular highlight.  A Circle Farm Tour is a road map that directs you to a variety of specialty farm vendors, open air markets, eateries, heritage sites, fairs, and other special events. There’s a brochure and map for each participating community.  Just ask for it at the desk of the hotel. The tours are self-guided, meaning that you travel in your own car, at your own pace, when it suits you. The map directs you from 10 to 20 venues. All are related in some way to agriculture and the area’s farming heritage. Got to love the cheese, artesian goods and just beautiful scenery.  Highly recommended.

dreamstime_xs_57488956Our two-night stay on a value added package was about $500 US.  A two night stay is recommended on shoulder seasons. Ask for one of the refurbished rooms. Going on a holiday or during peak travel times is not recommended unless you love lots of people and excited children. In my opinion I did not get the full value for the dollars I spent…but was that the hotels fault or mine for choosing the wrong time of year for the way I like to experience a destination?