Located on the northern end of the long, skinny blip that is British Columbia’s Galiano Island, Bodega Ridge Lodge fits the “rustic retreat” bill, with enough cozy comforts to put visitors at total ease. Painless to access from Vancouver (there’s a direct ferry, from which, if you’re lucky, you may spot dolphins), the resort strikes the ideal chord between isolated and indulgent. The main house has craft beer on tap and the firewood’s pre-chopped, but close your eyes in the plush white beds within any of the resort’s seven self-contained log cabins and all you will hear is the pristine silence particular to old-growth forests. Go out onto your private cedar deck at night, and you can see every single star.
Bodega Ridge Lodge’s owner, Jesse Keefer, has been visiting the 22 acres of hillside, fruit tree-studded meadowland since his childhood. “It was a lot more rustic back then,” he laughs. “I remember coming here for the first time when I was 12, driving onto the property and just loving it, how it’s kind of dark the whole drive up the island then you turn a corner and it just opens up.” An ex-competitive cyclist from Vancouver, Keefer purchased the property in 2003, and set about transforming it from an eighties dude ranch into a contemporary retreat. “I’ve tried to keep the original vibe here,” he explains of the cabins, all of which face the ocean and setting sun. “I’ve just tried to improve the quality and décor, going for a sort of rustic-yet-sophisticated theme.” He refurbished the cabins using materials reclaimed from old Vancouver buildings, and outfitted them with inviting details, such as Pendleton wool blankets, wood-burning stoves, soap from local Galiano Island Soap Works, and light fixtures by acclaimed design company Bocci.
There is plenty for guests to do for fun in the area. The resort is located at the base of the four-kilometre Bodega Ridge Provincial Park trail, known for the proliferation of tiny spring wildflowers that colour its surrounding meadows yellow, pink, and blue all the way down to the naturally scooped-out sandstone caves and rock formations at the water’s edge. The latter are best explored by kayak or stand-up paddleboard, but can also be seen from any of the three sandy beaches that lay less than one-kilometre downhill from the lodge. The nine-hole Galiano Golf Club is 20 minutes away, and Keefer is happy to share his knowledge of local mountain biking trails or arrange chartered trips for year-round fishing (plus, the property features a small trout pond to lazily cast into from cattail-rimmed banks). Additionally, for those with the proper approvals and licenses, Galiano is one of the few Gulf Islands on which duck and deer hunting is legal. The island is overpopulated with common black-tailed deer, as well as skittish but reportedly tasty fallow deer, who together threaten to munch up too many saplings of the island’s touchstone trees, including Garry oak, arbutus, and western red cedar.
Yet increasingly, the most popular thing to do at Bodega Ridge has been to get married. Last year, the lodge saw 12 weddings, with 22 this year and 30 expected in 2016 (the resort’s convenient situation in a rain shadow may be a contributing factor—the region receives half Vancouver’s annual rainfall). Yoga retreats are big as well; the lodge’s main house has its own studio, as well as a full kitchen from which summer events can be fully catered. Business is set to grow: Keefer hopes to add six more cabins, all solar-powered, to the property in coming years.