This review has me thinking back about three months. First of all, I really love the Honeymoon Bay - Lake Cowichan area for its undeveloped natural beauty, friendly people, and remote location. The Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat purports to offer an unpretentious, personable, spiritual wellness retreat experience to all of their guests. My experience was mixed. I had some very enjoyable moments, and some very off-putting experiences as well. Starting with all things delightful...when I and my loved one wanted to sample some of the spa services offered, the retreat staff made sure to organize the sessions according to our needs. I found there was ample private time for my meanders through the labyrinth, and was delighted to practice yoga every morning under the covered garden gazebo. At first I had some concerns regarding this non-profit retreat's Christian mission statement, but while I was there I noticed that there was no feeling of judgement or pressure to take part in any Christian motivated or themed activities. I think that the Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat is well-designed and very well renovated (it used to be an elementary school). The grounds are well maintained and private. The rooms are lovely, decorated with local art and photography, with lovely modern fixtures in the washrooms, and much attention paid to the finishing. The beds are very comfortable, and each room comes with an air conditioner which was much appreciated. The meals (when available) are quite frankly divine. The chef is a culinary artist, and the service at mealtime was very pleasant. The staff are friendly and helpful...sometimes difficult to locate though. Now for the off-putting experiences... I had been a guest at the Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat in the past, so I had been looking forward to the salt water hot tub, but it had been filled with soap products (by the other guests I presume) and was simply not hot enough. Night staff was quite grumpy one night and in a hurry to get myself and loved one out of the tub, so that he could close up for the night 15 minutes early it turned out. (He apologized later, indirectly.) My biggest issue with my stay was that there was a Christian prayer group staying at the lodge. This is not a problem in itself, but unfortunately the presence of the Christian group was overwhelming and impacted my retreat experience negatively in a number of ways. Firstly, they fully occupied a public space each evening with their loud hymn singing etc. It seemed to me that this activity could be carried out in one of the many conference rooms offered by the retreat. My partner and I had wanted to watch the Olympics on the only television available. Secondly, there were the unattended screaming and yelling kids (attached to the group) that ran up and down the hallways constantly while the adults met. This was not relaxing and at one point I had to ask them to please keep the noise down (in French as they did not understand English apparently after which I ran out of languages, although I think they got my tone). When I retired to my room in order to some peaceful reading, there would be "the group", yelling on the lawn in front of my window apparently oblivious to anyone else's needs but their own. There seemed to be no escape from their intrusive presence, and I have to say I was very relieved when they left. Unfortunately there was no resolution from the retreat for the problems attached to this group except that I should have mentioned it sooner and we (my spouse and I) could have been moved to a conference room where there was a television - as a paying guest I felt somewhat stressed and second-class. I think that ultimately the issue for me in this situation is that all guests deserve an equally respectful retreat environment, but in this case I feel that the needs of this Christian group took precedence. As it was the dining room was only open on certain evenings (which the group had booked), which had its obvious drawbacks - although the staff was very accommodating in organizing in advance a couple more evenings for the dining room to be open. Continental breakfasts were served in the common area and I believe that they could be much improved by serving actual home baked muffins, and a hot entree. The coffee was extremely poor, so I went to the local cafe to have my coffee needs met. All in all, a mixed experience, perhaps why I left this review so long! Would I go back? Possibly, because I have family in the area but not for a week. Thinking about my stay though, even after a couple of months I honestly feel that I wouldn't trust my needs as a paying guest to be given equal respect and treatment to any Christian group that is visiting, and this is quite frankly, a shame.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat is a Christian Not-For-Profit Retreat Centre. The Retreat is a ministry of Youth For Christ Canada, an organization that ministers to at risk youth across Canada. The Retreat will be used in the training and care of Youth For Christ leaders. The location is nestled in the beautiful Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Our mandate is to provide a place for rest, renewal and growth. When the Retreat is not in use by Youth For Christ staff it will be available as a restorative setting ideal for personal and group retreats, workshops, conferences, intimate weddings and events requiring accommodation as well as for individuals seeking a place for personal renewal and restoration.The Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat is wheelchair accessible and has 17 beautifully appointed suites, full dining experience and versatile meeting spaces. The facilities include a saltwater hot tub, infrared sauna, fitness room, library, gardens, local artisans gallery, and a labyrinth to walk through. The Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat is a Christian Not-For-Profit Retreat Centre, a ministry of Youth For Christ Canada. When the Retreat is not in use by YFC staff it will be available to the community for personal and small group retreats. The Retreat is wheelchair accessible and has 17 beautifully appointed suites, full dining experience and versatile meeting spaces. The facilities include a saltwater hot tub, infrared sauna, fitness room, library, gardens, and more. ... more less