“What are all those beach buckets with toy kits behind the reception desk for?” I asked as Kathryn and I were checking into Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre in Parksville, British Columbia. “Oh, those are for kids of families who are here under our Family Fun Special Promotion this summer,” the wonderfully helpful and friendly desk clerk replied. Kathryn and I glanced at each other and smiled. Instinctively, we both knew this resort knows how to boost the fun factor.
Tigh-Na-Mara is a Gaelic phrase that translates as “House By the Sea.” The original property owner named it thus because the seaside and the landscape of towering arbutus and fir trees reminded her of her Scottish homeland. Tigh-Na-Mara’s enviable 22 acres of forested land skirts a picturesque stretch of sandy beachfront facing the Strait of Georgia.
With 192 smoke-free log crafted rooms one could be forgiven for thinking there are always rooms available at this resort. Think again. Tigh-Na-Mara is active in promoting vacation and resort specials on their website, so you really want to go here first and have a look before booking as there are some great offerings.
The Spa Bungalows are the resort’s newest and most upscale accommodations that are mere footsteps away from the Grotto Spa. The Oceanview rooms are in a three level building offer spectacular panoramic ocean views from private balconies overlooking Rathtrevor beach. The stand-alone Rustic Cottages features a traditional wood burning fireplace & comfortable furnishings, with most offering a full kitchen. Ideally suited for the business traveler, the Jedediah guest rooms are located in a two-story log building and are closest the resort’s restaurant and pool facilities.
Some should be forewarned to really check out the resort’s website where all resort room types are fully described, with photos. Tigh-Na-Mara’s resort experience is not what some might consider being on par with a five star Four Seasons resort at someplace like Fort Lauderdale. Tigh-Na-Mara’s resort complex is imbued with rustic charm and the cozier comforts that so many guests appreciate when visiting Canada’s west coast.
If you desire upscale over an ocean view, the recently upgraded Spa Bungalow Rooms are your clear choice until the resort completes more upgrades. If you want an older room with a spectacular ocean view, or a rustic cabin with an outdoor barbecue that is more on par with “glamping,” choose accordingly. All rooms are equipped with a kitchen or kitchenette.
Resort Activities & Amenities
Along with the Grotto Spa, the resort also offers the following activities & amenities for guests:
- Ocean swimming
- Indoor pool house, whirlpool, sauna, fitness room, rooftop patio & fitness area
- Complimentary use of the Mineral Pool is included with all spa treatments booked at the Grotto Spa. Non-resort guests must pay $40 per person to use the Mineral Pool.
- Children’s playground
- Three kilometers of sandy beach with the warmest ocean swimming in Canada.
- Mountain bikes (Seasonal)
- Wildlife viewing
- Sports (outdoor tennis court, basketball hoop, a ping-pong table, a volleyball court and two horseshoe pits)
- Concierge services
- Laundry facilities
- Gift shop
- Business centre
- Complimentary parking
- Family board games.
- Car rental & shuttle service
Serenity Now – Our Spa Bungalow Studio Suite
From the moment we stepped inside our Spa Bungalow Studio room it felt the weight of the city living lift. We are discerning about how comfortable the mattress and pillows are. Happily, our King size bed was super comfy wumpfy (is wumpfy even a word? Anyway, you get our drift) and the pillows equally so. There was also a queen size wall bed in the room that could likely accommodate one or two small kids, if needed. Overall, this was a well appointed upscale room just footsteps away from the resort’s award-winning Grotto Spa. A classy welcoming touch was discovering a platter with cheese, crackers & fruit in our kitchenette’s refrigerator.
Spa Bungalow Room Appointments
- Gas fireplace
- Full bathroom with walk-in shower
- Jetted Jacuzzi tub in bathroom
- Living room space
- Dining room
- Free wireless internet
- Pets not allowed (Rustic Cottage rooms are pet friendly)
- Private patio & picnic table
- Coffee maker
- Queen wall bed in living room
Tigh-Na-Mara has two restaurants. Soon after our arrival we savoured some fine dining at the Cedar Room Restaurant & Lounge whose West Coast influenced seasonal International and regional menu predominately features locally sourced ingredients and produce. The adjacent Copper Lounge offers lighter menu selections and cocktails in a more relaxed atmosphere for adults. Breakfast service at the Cedar Room offers an upscale continental breakfast choice replete with cereal, pastries, juice and fresh fruit or you can also order al la carte breakfast dishes off a menu.
A second dining option is available at the Grotto Spa. The Treetop Tapas & Grill Restaurant proclaims their offering as being “a dining experience unlike any other in Canada.” However, dining here is reserved exclusively for robed spa guests who may choose to try one or two menu selections or indulge in “Endless Tapas,” sampling a wide variety of tasty tapas offerings. Yes, as many as you like. Unfortunately, we were unable to experience this for ourselves due to lack of time. Next time, for sure.
The Grotto Spa
Tigh-Na-Mara’s star attraction is undoubtedly its famous Grotto Spa. Crowned the #1 spa in British Columbia by Spas of America, the Grotto Spa is also Quality Assurance Approved by Leading Spas of Canada for maintaining the highest hygiene and customer service standards in the industry. Which we would think should be a minimum industry standard for any spa worth its bath salts.
So how does a spa also earn such notable recognition? Quite simply, by offering a mind-bending array of facials, body wraps, body glows, massages, manicures and pedicure treatments that spirals above and beyond the traditional norm. At 20,000 square feet, the Grotto Spa is also one of the largest spas in British Columbia, with 21 Treatment Rooms, a Nail Care Room, Hair Salon and the Treetop Tapas & Grill Restaurant. They also feature 3 private suites designed with couples in mind and feature copper soaking tubs, plush treatment tables and cozy fireplaces. After your spa treatments, guests are encouraged to further unwind in the Relaxation Lounge and partake of complimentary fresh fruit along with a selection of teas or coffee.
Grotto Spa Mineral Pool
Complimentary access to the Grotto’s inviting 2,500 square foot warm water Mineral Pool is offered to all spa guests. Resembling a natural stone grotto, this warm pool is infused with special blend of natural Hungarian minerals that detoxifies and rejuvenates the body. It’s a known fact that Hungarian mineral baths are an essential part of the health care system in Hungary. In addition, the Mineral Pool area includes a two-story waterfall, a refreshing cool splash waterfall and a non-mineralized whirlpool. Jett normally does not indulge spa treatments, but I convinced him to take a dip in the Grotto’s mineral pool. “Wow”, Jett said afterwards “that was soothing. Now, it’s time for dinner and some vino.”
The Bottom Line
After posting on Facebook that we were enroute to Tigh-Na-Mara for a romantic getaway, we were surprised over how many glowing comments we received from several friends who live on Vancouver Island stating how much they loved staying at Tigh-Na-Mara. Clearly, when the locals patronize a business, it has earned the proverbial stamp of approval. Tigh-Na-Mara is indeed worthy of such praise. Due to its popularity, particularly during the high season summer months, it’s recommended you book your room and spa treatments far in advance.
Would we go back? Yes, in a heartbeat. Our stay was so relaxing. Check in and check out was quick and efficient. All resort staff we encountered at various times were quite friendly and attentive. No complaints whatsoever. We highly recommend Tigh-Na-Mara for family vacations, weddings, or as in our case a romantic getaway.
Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort & Conference Centre
1155 Resort Drive • Parksville, British Columbia, Canada V9P 2E3
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