Nestled into the mountainside is Villa Eyrie, a Tuscan-inspired 40-room resort that is known internationally as one of the top BC getaway locations for those seeking a peaceful and relaxing experience.
As our Current Taxi pulled off Malahat Drive, we passed a beautifully lush pond with lily pads, a classic fountain, and delighted the view of Finlayson Arm in the early afternoon sun. The dark water was smooth and unbroken by boat traffic. Birds were calling to each other, and, in the rocks, amongst the wildflowers, a small garter snake peeped out at us. We had arrived, and it was so much to take in.
At an altitude of 1,156-feet, Villa Eyrie boasts Lake Como-inspired rooms and amenities, purposely spaced to ensure privacy from villa to villa.
Villa Cielo – Penthouse with a View
Our reservation was for Villa Cielo, which features prominently in the Simply Spectacular annual fundraiser for the David Foster Foundation.
In 2019, the 4-day luxury opportunity raised $1.4M for families of children going through a life-saving organ transplant process. The event was held at the end of July with host Ben Mulroney, special guests Katharine McPhee, American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, Juno award winner Trevor Guthrie, and others.
Our penthouse suite was perfectly positioned to watch the sunrise and set, from the incredibly comfortable bed with pillow-top mattresses. Even though it was not cold enough to require the fireplace, nothing stopped us from turning it on and throwing open the patio doors to let in the cool night air!
The spa-inspired six-piece bathroom had a double vanity and double-headed rainforest shower. The oversized soaker tub with a picture window allowed for coastal views while enjoying the scent-neutral vegan and cruelty-free items from LATHER Natural Skin Care. This certified vegan and cruelty-free brand, along with the option of non-down bed linens, provided an extra level of comfort.
Due to the pandemic, housekeeping was unable to offer turndown or stayover service, which is understandable. Staff at the resort went out of their way to ensure our stay was as ‘normal’ as possible.
Alpina Restaurant in the Mountains
At the heart of the Villa Eyrie Resort, Alpina Restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 7-days a week, satisfying guests with an incredible menu of locally sourced and foraged ingredients. The resort has cultivated a strong relationship with the farms and vineyards within the Cowichan Valley and throughout the island to offer an outstanding array of fresh ingredients, including wine, beer, cider, and spirits.
A trio of culinary leaders helms the kitchen: Michelin-trained Executive Chef Mario Gross, Pastry Chef Matthias Conradi, and Executive Sous Chef Andreas Wechselberger. All three share a Germanic heritage, and given the spectacular mountaintop location, it was only natural for the menu to reflect this. The resulting ‘Alpine Cuisine’ reaps accolades and online reviews are flush with diners voicing their experiences of excellence.
Complementing the menu is a curation of over 2,000- labels in their wine cellar with an extensive selection of BC best wines, including Unsworth and Averill Creek from the burgeoning Cowichan Valley, the Okanagan Valley (Summerhill, Cedar Creek, Mission Hill), and Similkameen Valley (Hester Creek, Burrowing Owl, Le Vieux Pin).
The wines chosen for inclusion were selected not only for taste but also for exclusivity. Strict criteria ensured that each was to be among the best depiction of its respective winery and that no bottle was easily found in traditional retail outlets. Included is a limited assortment of wines from the sub-alpine regions of Austria, France, Italy, and Germany.
Brunch began with bubbly mimosae and a deconstructed PB&J with fresh berries, dehydrated peanut dust, and peanut butter. Next was a wooden slab with more than a generous course of avocado toast and salad. This was not a typical Vancouver café toast!
Constructed with house-made sourdough rye, a refreshing pineapple cherry tomato chutney, pea sprouts and topped with crisped quinoa. Accompanying the toast was a layered savoury vegetable dish with a base of pureed beets, topped with sauteed zucchini, roasted potatoes, crispy Vancouver Island mushrooms, mixed greens, and a silky dressing.
Our appetites sated; we rode with Current Taxi to the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit outside Duncan. After an informative tour of the facility, a ride-along in a duo of canary yellow sportscars was a fantastic introduction to the sport of racing.
Dressed and ready for dinner, we ventured down the mountain to Alpina Restaurant. A chilled bottle of Quinta da Devesa awaited. Poured, it was elegant in the glass. Golden straw colour with a soft tropical nose (Mandarin orange, floral apricot, gently toasted oak), a dry acidity followed by silky mouthfeel. It was an incredible pairing with our first course, a miso broth with poached Vancouver Island mushrooms and tempura tofu.
The main course was fluffy beet gnocchi with poached pear, grapes, walnuts, cashew blue cheese on a bed of arugula. We requested an add-on of hummus and the housemade sourdough rye and devoured every crumb. Dessert was a delectable chocolate quinoa cake smothered in local berries, chocolate sauce, and a dollop of raspberry sorbet. Heavenly!
Located only 25 minutes north of downtown Victoria, this magnificent mountainside retreat is unlike any other in the world. Villa Eyrie features world-class dining at Alpina Restaurant and relaxation at the Tuscan Spa. Perfect for romantic getaways into the tranquil wilderness of Vancouver Island.
- Helen Siwak is passionate about content creation, marketing, shopping secondhand, promoting a vegan lifestyle, and supporting organizations and activists fighting against the status quo. She is the founder and president of EcoLuxLuv Comms (Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, EcoLuxLifestyle.co), and VEG Networking Group | firstname.lastname@example.org.