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“very mixed feeling on the retreat experience”

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Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat
Reviewed November 30, 2012

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.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Rowen W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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28 - 34 of 39 reviews

Reviewed October 10, 2012

Once a month, in the summer, the Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat hold an international dinner. My husband and I decided to eat there as we had not tried their food and a Caribbean dinner sounded interesting. A buffet had been laid out in the dining room. There was a plentiful supply of wholesome food. I would call the meal comfort food. It was an interesting meal in a pleasant atmosphere. The lodge's staff was most courteous and attentive. We will certainly attend another dinner there.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank m_diane_p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 23, 2012

If you are looking for a peaceful and romantic get-away for renewal of spirit and vitality, Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat is the place to go. It is less than an hour's drive from Duncan and en route you might even see Roosevelt elk. The staff are very accommodating and their friendly and helpful manner along with delicious meals add to the pleasure of one's stay. Having the tax and gratuities included in the packet price is a bonus. A variety of spa treatments are to be enjoyed along with the salt water hot tub, infra-red sauna, and attractive grounds. From the moment we arrived a feeling of tranquility and peace prevailed and we are determined to return in the near future.

Room Tip: If mobility is a problem, you might want to be closer to the entrance, the dining room, and the beau...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank Val D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 12, 2012

Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat Centre is a gem of a place to stay for many good reasons. Having spent many weekends there on retreats, my fiancée and I decided to use the resort for our June 2012 wedding. Right from the beginning stages of planning the food, the reception and the ceremony itself, Honeymoon Bay staff were helpful, flexible, and consistently cheerful about everything. The resort also orchestrated up to a three day stay for many of our out of town guests. I’m delighted to say: the food for both the rehearsal dinner and the reception the following day was spectacular(thanks to chef Kevin and staff!), the logistics of the ceremony, refreshments to follow and of course, the dinner and dancing afterwards, all worked smoothly. Kudos to all the staff at Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat!
Somae Claire O, Duncan, BC.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Somae O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 13, 2012

I attended a retreat weekend here, and I have already booked for next year! I can't wait to come back and be pampered in such a beautiful place. I felt completely catered to by the small staff, whom I got to know by name during my stay. The relaxed, holistic atmosphere inspired my creative juices, which was the purpose of my retreat. The space was intimate and very adequate, both the event room and the accommodations. My room included a microwave, fridge and sink. The bathtub was deep and roomy. The view from my room was a grassy field on the edge of a forest with misty clouds above the treetops, mostly obscuring the hills surrounding the valley in which we were nestled. The hills must obscure cell signals, as I had sporadic ability to send and receive calls or texts. (Not a bad feature for a retreat, however.) I was never able to get an Internet connection on my mobile phone or laptop, though I had been provided access to the free Wi-fi. Again, this wasn't essential for me this time and likely would have distracted me from my purpose for being there.

Amidst the natural beauty of the lodge's setting, there is a gift shop with a variety of offerings and price ranges, many by local artisans. The hallways are lined with local framed artwork and photography suited to many tastes and all available for sale. Like a gallery, the collections include the artists' bios, adding to the intimacy the resort invites. I resisted buying anything, but I plan to return with my husband for a weekend getaway in the near future and plan to choose a few pieces together to enjoy in our home and to remind us of this uplifting little piece of paradise.

It appears that the lodge is designed mostly for group events and is not available without prior booking. Solos and couples could attend only when another group is already booked. Otherwise, the place is not operating. While I was there, we shared the place with one other small group, and we rarely interacted. The grounds are extensive, including a charming labyrinth for a personal spiritual walk, though signs indoors warn of wildlife in the area, so I didn't stroll too far.

Esthetic and bodywork services were available, and I enjoyed a 30-minute massage during my weekend of renewal. Others I was with partook of manicures, pedicures, a hot stone massage and a lymphatic drainage massage. I wish I could have stayed longer and enjoyed a few other services on offer. I ended my days with a soak in the salt-water hot tub in a courtyard enclosure.

The bed was super comfortable, but I didn't sleep that well because of the fan. It appeared to have no lower setting other than "off" that would make the closed window drapes stop billowing over my bed next to it. Though the outdoor temperature was below freezing during my stay, I chose to leave the heater/cooler off through the night because of the annoying fan on its lowest setting. My room was, according to the thermometer on the controls, 52 degrees F in the morning! Thank goodness for a hot ceiling lamp in the bathroom and the plush robe provided with my room. The room warmed up quickly when I reset the heater with the fan on "high."

I haven't even mentioned the food, which was generous, inventive, delicious and 100 percent personalized! Kevin is a talented chef, and his meals were fabulous and filling. He was able to accommodate a good number of individual diets and food preferences to a "T" (all of which were provided to him in advance with our booking) without compromising the presentation or the dining experience.

I had a bit of trouble finding Honeymoon Bay Lodge and Retreat, even in daylight and with more than one sign. It is very secluded, though not far from civilization, in the form of the quaint communities of Honeymoon Bay and Lake Cowichan. Especially without connections to the outside world, it was the perfect location for a getaway and a change of pace. There are neither TVs nor phones in the rooms, inviting a short walk to the front desk for gracious, attentive service. The lodge is a two-hour drive from Victoria on Vancouver Island.

  • Stayed: March 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank Heather W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 1, 2012

I stayed at this lodge for 3 nights with a group for a business trip to Lake Cowichan and we pretty well had the place to ourselves. The staff were great, very accommodating and made us feel very welcome. This accommodation is approximately 10-15 minutes from Lake Cowichan on a narrow, winding road. The nearest restaurants, stores, etc. are in Lake Cowichan.

The rooms were clean and comfortable with a small fridge and coffee maker. However, since it is billed as a "retreat", there are no televisions or telephones in the rooms. I rated the sleep quality as poor because I couldn't get a decent night's sleep. The heaters in the rooms are those electric wall mounted combination A/C & heating units. They are all incredibly noisy and wake you up every time they come on, so you either turn it off and freeze (it was winter) or wake up every 30 minutes or so. My advice: bundle up and unplug the heater. Pretty well everyone in our group had a similar story.

There is a common kitchen with an oven/stove, toaster, etc.

There is a common lounge area with couches, a flat screen TV (somewhat limited channels), dvd player and stereo with ipod dock.

There is a reasonably well equipped gym. There is also a hot tub and IR sauna.

There is free wireless internet in the entire facility.

The facility arranged for a chef to come in one night to cook a meal for the group. The food was great.

The restless nights really contributed to the average rating here. Otherwise, it was a great experience. Also, this was a business trip, so my impression of the facility is coloured as such; we basically spent a few hours relaxing after work and slept at the facility (did not use all of the amenities).

  • Stayed: February 2012, traveled on business
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1  Thank SirCanuck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 19, 2011

Well this is my first time having a Honeymoon Bay Retreat Experience and it sure won't be my last. The Retreat Center is a warm inviting place to come. The rooms are great, beds are to die for and just alright great room. The facilities altogether are just wonderful. I am here for a scrapbooking retreat and our crop room is comfortable and bright. The food service is really to die for, Kevin you are an awesome chef. We have had a great variety and justs really top quality food. I just had a massage experience and that was totally relaxing and Chris was just great. It is so nice to receive the kind of massage you want, he totally does have magic fingers. All around the staff have been great, totally friendly and helpful and always a smile on their faces. Overall the weekend has been great and I would highly recommend it to everyone. I will be back for sure.

Room Tip: I think any room would be a great room. Very quiet and peaceful.
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled with friends
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Thank Linda C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Honeymoon Bay Lodge & Retreat

Address: 10028 Park Drive | Honeymoon Bay, Lake Cowichan, British Columbia V0R 1Y0, Canada
Phone Number:
Location: Canada > British Columbia > Vancouver Island > Lake Cowichan
Amenities:
Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 13 Specialty Lodging in Lake Cowichan
Number of rooms: 17
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 

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