Every fall after we wave goodbye to our summer guests, when the island quiets down, and we have a minute to breathe, we start envisioning all the projects we want to polish off before the next season rolls around.
This year’s To-Do list project has been on our minds for a few years. Our lodge rooms, while romantic and cozy with gas fireplaces, jetted tubs, and idyllic views of the lake, needed some TLC. The rooms had either queen or full-size beds, mattresses that the Princess (she of Pea fame) might complain about, and TV’s that were a smidge too small for today’s widescreen action films.
Starting last fall, we began designing a fresh, Northwest-modern version of our lodge rooms that would reward our guests with all the creature comforts of home (and more), plus still have the romantic, peaceful experience they’ve come to love in the Lodge.
Believe it or not, the lodge has seven different room configurations, which makes it a little challenging to order furniture and have it all fit. We opted to go with custom-made slatted headboards with cantilevered end tables made from cherry wood, that mimic the logs in our stunning log Lodge and log cabins. And fortunately for us, we have a fantastic woodworker who worked with us on the yurts a few years ago and was willing to lend his skill to make the headboards happen. Gary worked nonstop for months to fabricate the slats and plinth bases for the new king and queen size beds. The cherry end tables, and their wrought-iron supports, were built in Sisters, Oregon.
Knowing November and early December are slower times for the Lodge, we opted to close the Lodge for three weeks and bring in the entire team for a full onslaught to transform the rooms. We painted all the rooms, bathrooms, and hallways. New carpet was installed last year, and we added fresh linens, plush comfy mattresses, new lighting, modern writing tables with chairs, AND huge new flat screen TV’s mounted about the fireplaces. Hanging over the beds are custom prints of birds sighted at Lakedale, painted by a noted watercolor artist and commissioned by us. It was fast and furious, but we’re thrilled with our rooms’ bright, new Northwest vibe.
Our top-notch crew couldn’t stop themselves after the completion of the Lodge project. They added new grass outside the lodge decks and willow trees adjacent to the Canvas Cottages to create additional privacy for our glamping units. The Yurts also got some love with trees and plantings to return the Village area to its natural environment. We hope you visit us soon to see first-hand the results of this year’s To-Do List!
I’d been staring bleary-eyed at the TV for weeks…my husband engrossed in the fall game season. Are you ready for…Saturday college, Sunday pros, Sunday night, Monday night, Thursday night, and lest we forget, baseball and the World Series? Not that I don’t enjoy sports, but fall and winter are great times of the year to travel, especially when the San Juan Islands are so beautiful and oh, so close.
I secretly recorded all the games I knew hubby would want, pried the remote from his twitchy little hands and whisked him off to the San Juan Islands for a romantic winter weekend getaway. Once we were on the ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, the wind in our hair, gulls soaring above, and islands slowly parading by, the freshness of the salt air eliminated all memories of football. I think.
Weekends in the Pacific Northwest islands are magic, doesn’t matter when you go, but my favorite times are the off-seasons, when summer crowds are nestled at home, kids are in school, leaving the islands to be explored in leisure with the one you love. Full disclosure: I’m completely biased toward San Juan Island, so my romantic weekend getaway starts and ends here. Here’s my favorite itinerary (and full disclosure again…no scintillating details, you’ll have to fill in the blanks):
Drive off the ferry (remember to make ferry reservations both ways at Take a Ferry) park your car and explore Spring Street. Fun boutique shops (no chain stores here), art galleries, the amazing San Juan Islands Museum of Art, and one of my favorites…the upstairs store at King’s Market. It’s chock full of crab pots, maps, fishing gear, shoes, and island-worthy clothing.
Photo thanks to Friday Harbor House
In need of refreshment? The bar at Friday Harbor House showcases a menu of inspired adult libations along with a great view of the Friday Harbor Marina…watch boats and ferries ply the Salish Sea as daylight fades.
Next up: dinner at Vinny’s Italian Restaurant. There’s nothing we like better than being greeted like family by owners Becky and Julie, and tucking in to always delicious Italian favorites and a very good selection of reasonably priced Italian wines. My go-to meal is the house salad, followed by chicken piccata and then, if I’m living dangerously, a Mini-Jack ice cream sundae. Let your conscience be your guide.
Happily full, drive to Lakedale Resort for the most relaxing and romantic getaway around. In the summer, kids in tow, we opt for glamping in a Canvas Cottage or a Log Cabin stay. But when it’s just the two of us, we book a lodge room overlooking the lake, or a luxury yurt complete with its own private hot tub. Every lodge room has a gas fireplace and large jetted tub, and spoiler alert, there will be a major refresh in December that will include luxurious king beds, just for starters!
If you’d prefer to stay in the town of Friday Harbor, our favorite choice is Ferry Landing Suites, literally across the street from the ferry landing. If you decide to ditch the car o your romantic getaway, just walk from the ferry up to the cute white Victorian building that houses the Elwha Suite (two bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room and a private deck), or the Yakima Suite (a studio apartment with kitchenette, living area and 2 small balconies). The Salty Fox Cafe is right downstairs, for the island’s best coffee and morning food, and if you do bring the car, count on a dedicated parking space for each of the units. Hold your sweetie’s hand and watch the moonrise from these front row seats!
Cafe Demetre is Friday Harbor’s best bakery, so knowing you’re going to need some sustenance for the exciting day ahead, swing by for morning buns, ginger scones, a slice of breakfast pizza, other delectable treats, and a killer cappuccino.
Well-fortified, you can now take the best hike on the island, to Jakle’s Lagoon and Mt. Finlayson, at the south of the island on the way to the Cattle Point Lighthouse. Look for the trailhead parking lot on the left, or one of the Lakedale team will be happy to give you directions. The hike encapsulates all that’s great about the islands: hiking through majestic forests, meeting and greeting wildlife on a beach walk, and then encountering majestic vistas, open meadows and views all the way to the Olympic mountains and Canada.
Drive back to town for a quick lunch of fish and chips, clam chowder, and a local brew at Cask and Schooner, or dine on the waterfront overlooking the marina, at Down-riggers.
Take it easy at Lakedale for the afternoon, paddle a canoe, read a book on the deck overlooking Neva Lake, sip a glass of wine by the outdoor fireplace, take a nap…
Or… do more island exploring. For a fun afternoon, head to Westcott Bay Cider and San Juan Island Distillery. They make delicious small batch hard ciders, 14 different gins, liqueurs and an award-wining apple brandy. Their Saturday afternoon tastings are great fun as well as educational – remember to ask to see the gorgeous all-copper still.
Sunsets and romance go hand in hand. On your way back to Lakedale, swing by the historic Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the island’s west side at sunset. Wander to the water’s edge past colorful Madrona trees, sit a spell, and if you’re lucky, an Orca whale might swim by. Kiss, anyone?
What would a romantic weekend away be without a Duck Soup dinner? Located just 1/4 mile from Lakedale, this island classic is housed in a quaint country house overlooking a scenic pond, with comfortable booths, blazing fireplace and twinkle lights galore. The food showcases the bounty of the islands with local produce, meats, seafood and foraged delights…always perfectly prepared. Interesting handcrafted cocktails too. But best news of all, it is now open year-round, and in the off-season from Wednesdays through Saturdays. Reservations are essential!
Sleeping in could be the order of the day, but you’ll want to make it downstairs in time for breakfast in the lodge and one of Mary Ann’s delicious “Momelettes”, along with her entertaining description of what to do on San Juan Island. Use one of her great suggestions, or spend the morning walking the docks at Roche Harbor at the north end of the island. Even in winter, the Roche Marina boasts a serious display of boat power, both the sailboat and yacht varieties. Pick up a few of the famous freshly made donuts at Lime Kiln Cafe at the top of the docks (we didn’t say this was a weight watcher’s romantic weekend) before your walk, and after you’ve worked them off, enjoy a couple’s massage at the AfterGlow Spa, a surefire way to keep the embers burning and ease you back into civilization.
Whether you’re leaving the island aboard an early ferry or later one, there’s always one more chance for romance on the island…and who knows, your significant other may decide to toss the remote control and surprise you with another romantic San Juan Island getaway!
Friday Harbor Marina moonrise
You’ve made the decision…we’re getting married! It may have been a surprise proposal, it may have been a well-thought out decision between the two of you, or it may have been one of those moments when you gazed into each other’s eyes and just knew. Any which way, it’s a life-changing, fireworks popping, happy dance moment to be celebrated!
And now the fun begins! Your wedding is one of the first opportunities for you as a couple to scream to the world who you are. Do you want your wedding to be indoors in a church or hotel? Do you want a restaurant or banquet hall to host your reception? Do you want a wedding in the great outdoors? Do you want your guests to celebrate with you for just a night or share a memorable, long weekend?
Here at Lakedale (in the beautiful San Juan Islands of Washington state), we’ve noticed a shift in the wedding winds over the last decade. Every year, more and more couples choose to have a destination wedding (the simplest definition: an event that doesn’t take place in the city or town where you live) instead of a more traditional ceremony, especially if you want all or part of your nuptials to be outside. It’s estimated that one out of every four weddings is now a destination event.
With virtually limitless choices when it comes to setting and venues, destination weddings give a couple some amazing and creative options to share their commitment with friends and family…and oh, did we mention the fun part? Outside the confines of the cities and towns that most of us live in, the world is full of beautiful beaches, forests, mountains and deserts that make stunning backdrops for wedding events. Choosing a destination wedding usually gives you much more control over the size of the guest list (will Dad’s old golfing buddy or that guy from the accounting cubicle you rarely see really want to come?) and they often end up being much less expensive than traditional events…sometimes significantly so!
There’s a slew of information online about etiquette, who should pay for what, and lists of “do’s and don’ts” for couples considering a destination wedding. So, we thought we’d help by putting together a short list we hope will make the entire process, well…less of a process, and more fun for everyone involved!
Natural Outdoor Beauty Requires no Decoration:
You can spend a gazillion dollars on flowers and decorations to gussy up that conference room or banquet hall, but it’s still going to be a conference room or banquet hall. On the other hand, beautiful outdoor spaces need little to no decoration and you still end up with a beautiful outdoor space. Mother Nature has your back and she does a pretty darned good job of decorating the space for you.
Casual can be Classy:
Take a moment and imagine the times in your life that you’re most comfortable, relaxed, and at peace with the world. We don’t want to go too far out on a limb, but we guess you probably weren’t wearing a tuxedo or six-inch stilettos in that moment…? You and your guests don’t necessarily need to wear sweatpants and t-shirts to the wedding, but casual and comfortable is king in the outdoors. Being dressed up is great too, but keep the atmosphere casual. Think of things like campfires, S‘mores, and lawn games like cornhole, horseshoes and Kubb to inject a little relaxation into your reception, especially if you’re inviting guests with children. If you and your guests are relaxed, you’re going to be less stressed and having fun, and isn’t that exactly the point?
Put a Roof on It:
Another great element that most destination venues provide is diversity in lodging options and pricing for your guests. Here at Lakedale for example, we have options for camping (for your back-to-nature college buddies), to glamping (for your friends with young kids who want to camp with comfort), to your middle-aged cousins and kids (who want to hang out together in a log cabin and make S’mores over a campfire every night), and for grandma and grandpa (who are thrilled to stay in a lodge room overlooking a lake, with a delicious breakfast prepared for them every day). Some couples opt to have their guests reserve their own rooms, while some decide to “buy-out” the resort and create their own version of a dream destination wedding! At one of our favorite weddings, the bride and her friends made 200 dreamcatchers and hung them all over the resort. Making it personal is our motto!
Vows and Various Views:
Aside from beautiful, natural settings and relaxed environments, destination venues provide great flexibility for all the elements of your wedding. Having a different feel for each part of a traditional wedding usually involves a change of venues, and that means …transportation. But imagine reciting your vows on a grassy knoll surrounded by tall pines, then walking (or rowing a boat) to a cocktail hour on a deck overlooking a glassy lake, then culminating your celebration with dinner at long farm tables and dancing under the stars in a meadow aglow with strings of lights overhead…all while never leaving the property? You can have a variety of looks and feels, all while reducing the planning and logistical stress. That’s what we call having your wedding cupcakes and eating them too!
Two Days for the Two of You:
Escaping our routines and same-old environments is probably the main reason we all go on vacations. Without a “to-do list”, we’re much more likely to enjoy the people and places that surround us. And really, when is that more important than your wedding? To be exactly where you, your partner, and your guests want to be, because that’s when truly memorable moments are made! When you design a unique wedding weekend, your guests will have no problem justifying traveling…they get a vacation, and they get to celebrate the beginning of the two of you!
Whether you opt for a traditional wedding, or decide to dance down the destination wedding path along with your friends and families, we’re thrilled to help! After hosting an average of 10 weddings a year, all year round, we have lots of ideas to help make your big day…well, your big weekend! Our wedding guru Carla, ([email protected] ) is wonky about weddings and would love to chat with you (and take you on a tour of Lakedale’s special wedding venues). Or check out our wedding page. Love to see you soon!
“Time flies when you’re having fun”, as the saying goes. Can you believe the summer of 2019 is almost over? For many people, the last week of August means winding down summer’s energy, and settling in for the mellowness of fall. Some kids have already started a new school year, and the rest will start in a few days time. Here at Lakedale however, we’re still going full speed with preparations for the Labor Day weekend and our third annual Lakedale Jazz Festival!
Holiday weekends are always a little crazy in the hospitality industry, regardless of where you are in the world. Memorial Day is our summer kickoff and Labor Day signals the end of our busy season. While we think being at Lakedale is an entertaining proposition anytime of the year, we’re always inventing fun events to make our guest’s experience even better. A couple of years ago we decided it would be cool to invite some jazz musicians to Lakedale to jam over the Labor Day weekend. Our guests would enjoy the music and our team could participate as well. Whistle while you work, right?
It also happens that our General Manager is a musician himself, and birds of a feather flock together. With a few phone calls and emails, he had a stellar lineup of well-known jazz artists lined up, all anxious to spend their holiday weekend with us and our guests! Throw in food from Tina’s Tacos, wine from Sagelands, and beer from Oskar Blues, and we had an exciting event: relaxing and fun for folks of all ages and robust enough for the jazz fiends among us!
Speaking of musicians, we think this year’s artist lineup is the best yet! World-renowned jazz guitarist Brian Nova will be back this year with his trio, along with special guests: Greta Matassa, Fred Radke, Stephanie Porter, Max Holmberg, Terry Miller, Primo Kim, Oliver Strasser, Chance Hayden and many more. San Juan Island is a hotbed of artistic talent, so we’ve also invited a few of Lakedale’s friends and family to participate as well. Yes, some of us can bounce between playing drum sets and running an 82-acre resort property at the same time!
Of course, we’re happy about the progress and growth of our Jazz Festival, but we’re especially proud of what it gives us the opportunity to do. This event is a benefit weekend for the San Juan Islands School Music programs and Terry’s Kids/San Francisco Music Study Center. Lakedale donates 100% of ticket sales to bring music and music education programs into schools, not only on our island, but around the globe!
Let’s make sure we’ve got this straight: a weekend of amazing jazz music in a gorgeous outdoor setting, all benefitting a wonderful cause, and you don’t have to go to work on Monday? Sounds like a great plan to us! Well, all except for the not working on Monday part, because we kind of need to be here, but feel free to tell us what that part is like! Make sure to check out the Lakedale Jazz Festival details, and we hope to see you this weekend!
Do you need to escape the swelter of summer in the city?
Do you need to take a long, slow breath surrounded by long, tall trees?
Do you need a vacation that costs less than taking the family to a Mariner’s baseball game?
We have a solution: camping! Any kind of camping is a great way to clear your head, enjoy fun times with your friends and family and not break the bank. But car camping is particularly easy. Throw everybody and everything in the back of your SUV (or better yet, truck), and head into nature. Other than ice cold beer, the most important item you’ll need to pack is a tent. Whether you go for a tent rental or decide to purchase a tent, there’s some basic knowledge about the tent world you’ll need.
Who’s coming along?
One of the first things to decide about a tent is size. Are you a family of six with 3 labradoodles? Or a young couple traveling light? Do you have a professional basketball player or sumo wrestler in the family? In general, everybody will want at least two feet of elbow room per person, plus some space for their gear. Currently, there are no industry standards for per-person tent dimensions, but REI recommends upsizing your tent capacity by 1 person to have plenty of space (or if you’re claustrophobic, flop like a flounder when you sleep, or have small children and dogs.)
Floor area: A good rule of thumb is to allow 20 square feet per person for a roomy camping experience. Since you are car camping, you don’t have to be as concerned about the weight of your tent as if you were backpacking your gear in.
Tent height: Choose a tent with a tall peak height (usually listed in the tent specs) if you like to stand up when changing your clothes, or have the airiness of a tall ceiling. A cabin-style tent will have straight sides that maximize livable space and tent height. A dome-style tent stands tall in the center, but has sloped sides which offer wind resistance and superior strength on a stormy night, but slightly reduces livability.
What’s all this tent jargon about?
Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty! Tent jargon! We’ll try to keep it brief because we know all you really want to do is get out there and start making S’mores, but these are things you really want to know.
Tent construction: Most of today’s tents are manufactured from some form of synthetic nylon fabric…the lower the denier, the lighter the tent will be, but it will also be more fragile. Since we’re not worrying about weight, go for a higher denier, which means more durable fabric. Car camping tents are usually double-walled, which means they have a breathable inner tent covered by a waterproof outer rainfly, which can either cover just the roof for more light, or cover the entire tent for maximum protection from rain and wind. The rainfly allows for the glorious sound of rain dancing on your roof without the nightmare of condensation forming on the inside of your tent walls. Single wall tents are typically used in high alpine camping (when the condensation freezes) or in tents which have lots of ventilation provided by mosquito netting. And in some double-walled tents which provide magical starry views when the rainfly is removed!
Tent Poles: Tent poles usually consist of pieces of aluminum tubing connected with elastic cord which then pop together to form a longer pole. You either slide the poles through nylon sleeves built into the tent (harder), or attach them to the tent with plastic clips (easier) and some tents will have a combination of both. The fewer the number of poles, the easier it is to erect the tent.
Tent stakes will come with the tent and will be sized based on how the tent will be used. In a pinch, look for trees or rocks to keep the tent from blowing away.
Vestibule: Think of the vestibule as your mud room, but with a little more mud. It’s where you kick off your wet shoes, drop your fishing pole, and protect all the gear you don’t want to keep in the tent. The vestibule can either be built into the tent or you can add it on as a separate structure. Well worth the extra expense to buy or rent!
Doors: The size of your tent will determine how many points of access you’ll want. It’s nice to have at least a couple of doors so you’re not clambering over Uncle Pete for that midnight bio-break. Check the door zippers to make sure they are smooth, quiet, and easy to open – look for YKK zippers.
Interior Gizmos: There are a few things which may seem like minor items, but you’ll kick yourself later if you forgot them. A lantern loop in the top center of the tent is a must have, as well as loops on the interior tent walls which can attach all sorts of things like mesh lofts and interior pockets for gear like headlamps and glasses (see afore-mentioned bio-break).
Guylines: These are the cords usually provided with your tent that serve to keep the tent taut. Some dome tents don’t require guylines, but others do. Look for reflective guylines so you won’t be tripping over them in the middle of the night. A great idea, no matter what kind of tent you end up with, is to set up your tent ahead of time to be camp ready – better yet, do it in the store when you have some attentive salespeople to help!
Footprint: This is essentially a groundcloth that goes underneath the tent and protects it from whatever lurks beneath, think rocks, dirt, mud, bugs…you get the drift. They are usually sold or rented separately and some will be custom fitted to the “footprint” of your tent. If you’re the handy type and want to save a few dollars, head to the hardware store and custom cut a sheet of Dupont Tyvek to your tent’s footprint.
Graphic courtesy of GearJunkie.com
Tis the Season…but which one?
When and where are you going to be using your tent? The most popular tent choice is a 3-Season tent (spring, summer and fall) which is designed for moderate weather conditions and will generally have mesh panels for good ventilation in the warm weather. They’ll keep out the bugs, provide privacy and keep you dry in the rain. Perfect for car camping.
3-4 Season tents are a good choice if you think you’ll be out in the wilds in the shoulder seasons and may encounter some snow and colder weather. These tents have fewer mesh panels (for more warmth) and are designed with more poles for greater strength.
4-Season tents are for the mountaineers among us and probably not necessary for car camping, unless you really want to impress your camping neighbors with tales of your most recent Everest ascent.
And if you want to be a real hipster camper, check out roof-top camping tents, a recent addition to the camping scene for those who like the high life!
Whatever tent you choose, the San Juan Islands are ready for your next camping adventure (see our blog on the best campsites in the San Juans). We’d love to host you at Lakedale on our 82 acres of lakes, forests, meadows with all the amenities of a great family resort! Check in and let us know which tent you went for!
Welcome to the first post in a new series called “Life on the Lakes”! This series is where you’ll tune in to get information, insights, and recaps of the various annual events that we host here at Lakedale Resort. We may even give you the occasional look inside at what it’s like for us as hosts, and how we make these events come to life. For our first glimpse at life on the lakes, let’s look at our annual summer dinner series, “Gourmet Glamping”!
The gourmet angle seems easy enough to understand, but first let’s talk about the glamping part. We’ve spent years refining glamping at Lakedale, but in case you’ve missed it, the term “glamping” is a mash-up of the words glamorous and camping. It’s a term and a phenomenon that has been steadily, and rapidly, increasing in popularity for about a decade or so. If you ask ten different people to define the term you’ll probably get ten different answers. We think that glamping’s popularity is mostly attributable to its accessibility and the diversity that’s naturally built into the concept. Maybe you live in the city and you’ve always wanted to go camping, but you don’t own any gear or have any experience. Maybe you’re an experienced outdoor enthusiast, but you want to take a break from the hardcore side of camping. Or maybe you’re both of those, but you just started a family and you want your little ones to experience nature in a more comfortable environment until they’re old enough to go backpacking. Wherever you fit, glamping allows you to enjoy the outdoors with a minimum amount of effort! Bring a tooth brush and a change of socks, and we’ll cover the rest. Glamping is the perfect fusion between outdoors and indoors and is something pretty much everyone can enjoy. You can smell like a campfire, without the sore back and muscles that come with it!
While we’re on that subject, when was the last time you left your favorite fine dining establishment smelling like a campfire? Never? Well, we thought that since we could mash-up a hotel room and a campsite, we might be able to cross a fine dining restaurant with an old-fashioned campfire cookout. That’s the “Gourmet Glamping Dinner Series”! Here’s the recipe: take 1 part talented chef with an awesome menu, add 1 part regional winemaker, add 20-30 guests, stir and cook over several campfires for roughly 3 hours. And when we say talented chef, we mean it. While the chef lineup changes every year, it’s not uncommon to see a lineup that includes James Beard Award winners, and folks that have beaten their celebrity counterparts on cooking shows!
Each Gourmet Glamping event has a unique personality. That personality depends mostly on the guests who are in attendance. For most of the events, the cooking process is very interactive, and our guests help with prep and cooking, as much or as little as they want. Sometimes all the guests want to roll up their sleeves and dive in, and that’s when the real magic happens! Picture this: you’re in your comfortable outdoor clothes on a nice summer evening with a glass of wine, and you’re working side by side with someone you just saw beat one of the Iron Chefs on TV. Normal Saturday night stuff, right?
Lakedale will host between two and four Gourmet Glamping events every year, usually in the months of June, July and August. The events always take place on a Saturday evening, and we’re usually able to price them under $100 per person including all wine pairings, which makes Gourmet Glamping the perfect way to cap off the perfect weekend getaway! A few weekends ago, Chef Adam Stevenson from Cedarbrook Lodge was here with Three of Cups Winery from Woodinville for our first Gourmet Glamping event of the 2019 season. Don’t worry if you missed the June event, because our next dinner is coming up on Saturday, August 17th, 2019 with Chef Jeff Maxfield of SkyCity at the Space Needle and Longship Cellars from Tri-Cities! We typically limit the number of spaces to 30 guests, and they fill quickly, so book your spot soon!
We’re constantly cooking up new ideas for events and activities for our guests at Lakedale. Stay tuned, and watch this space for all the juicy details – we look forward to seeing you soon!