The essence of summertime bliss. That was what we found when we made the 45-minute jaunt cross-Island to the newly-opened Sproat Lake Landing near Port Alberni.
Located at the site of the old West Bay Hotel on the shores of spectacular Sproat Lake, the Sproat Lake Landing complex is comprised of a boutique hotel, Drinkwater’s Social House pub/dining room, Della’s Café and convenience store and a liquor outlet – everything anyone could want when vacationing several miles from the nearest commercial centre. An additional bonus: a replica tug that offers tours of the 10,000 acre lake and its 188 miles of shoreline.
We arrived late on a steaming-hot Friday afternoon and checked in to our beautifully-designed – and, thankfully, air conditioned – lakefront room. Sweeping views of lake and mountains greeted us from our small private patio, along with the opportunity to enjoy the activity of beavers who inhabit the beaver lodge directly below us.
Our room was one of the most efficiently designed we have had the pleasure of occupying – lots of sensible storage space for our travelling gear, king sized comfortable bed, wood accents (including tree stump bedside tables) that added a bit of rustic to the modern decor and a tip of the hat to the logging industry that has sustained the Alberni Valley for decades.
We enjoyed two meals downstairs at Drinkwater’s Social House. We had dinner in the dining room due to the extreme heat outdoors, working our way through a tasty spinach dip before consuming our main courses of the Clayoquot shrimp clubhouse and the house burger, both served with hand-cut fries and house-made ketchup.. Brunch on Saturday morning was equally delightful, with some great and interesting flavour combinations. My husband opted for the Sproat Lake Eggs Benedict, a sublime combination of chard, pine nuts, ricotta cheese, mushrooms and farm fresh eggs topped with the standard Hollandaise. I worked my way through three lovely light lemon ricotta pancakes and a large house-made sausage.
Drinkwater’s is making a special effort to source ingredients locally and to combine them into interesting and flavourful menu offerings. The excellent food combined with the choice of dining in the pub, dining room or on the beautiful patio is obviously appealing to a lot of folks – the evening that we were there droves of patrons were coming from all over the lake by boat to enjoy a meal or a beverage. It was one of those iconic summertime tableaus that make you realize how very good life can be.
Saturday morning post-breakfast found us hustling down the wharf to board the aforementioned tug, the Drinkwater IV. Captained by Sproat Lake Landing owner Jeff Stephenson, the great little craft took us on a lengthy tour of some of the notable spots around the lake. We were thrilled to see the world-famous Martin Mars water bomber, which calls Sproat Lake home. Then it was on to a wall full of petroglyphs that no one seems able to date, and off around the lake to take in Massacre Island, what is left of Klitsa Lodge, a viewing of Vanderbilt Island and of many, many cottages and homes that have been in families for generations.
There is a lot of intriguing history in the lake area, and we were delighted when Jeff recounted some of the stories about celebrities like Emily Carr, Walt Disney, Cornelius Vanderbilt and dozens of others who made arduous journeys in order to enjoy the splendour of the area. It was a most interesting and very beautiful tour of Port Alberni’s traditional cottage country.
All-told, the combination of all the above factors made for one of the most relaxing and engaging get-aways we have enjoyed. Great friendly staff abounds at Sproat Lake Landing enhancing the beautiful sunsets, the moon rises, the lovely hotel rooms, the spectacular views, the wildlife viewing, the great food, the people watching and the laid back vibe. Can’t say enough good things about this one – can’t wait to go back!
Further information on Sproat Lake Landing and all it has to offer can be found at the website:
Price rating for Drinkwater’s Social House: $$
Sproat Lake Landing is located at 10695 Lakeshore Road, Port Alberni
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.285386 Long. -124.975844
N 49 17.123 -124.975844