Just when you think you've gone high up enough the hillside driveway to get to Villa Eyrie, it turns out you can drive even higher to reach the top of the property - and this is definitely what you're going to want to do as soon as you've checked in.
True, any spot at this long-running European-style resort at the top of the Malahat on Vancouver Island's southeast side in the Cowichan region is going to treat you to some pretty epic views. That's because the property looks down on the beautiful Finlayson Arm, the long, narrow arm on the south of Saanich Inlet that drains Goldstream River at Goldstream Provincial Park. The arm gets its name from a man called Roderick Finlayson, who was a Hudson's Bay Company officer, farmer, businessman, and politician and who is considered the "father" of Victoria.
You're not here for a history lesson though, right? This is about vacation, and putting your feet up, sitting back, and drinking in sunrises, sunsets - any hour of the day - surrounded by nature with a little dash of luxury.
Villa Eyrie was built in the 1980s (and used to be called Aerie Resort) - "eyrie" means eagles' nest - and has been recently updated throughout the property, which consists of several villa-style buildings, each offering gorgeous views and lux amenities. At the very top is the Villa Cielo (meaning "sky"), which has several suites, each with a balcony offering sweeping views. Soaker tubs, big plush beds, and in-room coffee and tea give you the best of what you need on holiday right where you are going to relax.
Because the rooms are divided among the resort's Villas, you aren't likely to bump into many others close-up, which makes it seem like even more of a getaway. In particular, this makes it perfect for travel when you are needing to ensure physical distancing for health and safety. If you're stealing away for a little romance or alone time, too, you're made in the shade here - no one will be in your way. On the flip side, if you are coming with the family, you're well-served; I brought along my son, and he was greeted with a bubble wand from the front desk clerk and offered the kids' menu at the restaurant (he went for the scallops, though - that's my boy!).
The hotel property is a dream setting for a wedding (start planning now!) but also perfect for a getaway not far from the mainland. A 25-minute drive from Victoria, Villa Eyrie is the kind of secluded spot where you can see a family of deer out nibbling their breakfast just feet away on the mountainside, but you aren't an unreasonable distance from things like restaurants, trails, lakes, and towns. Head north further into the Cowichan region and you'll find wineries, charming seaside villages, farm-fresh food, and plenty of outdoor adventures.
If you do spend time on property, Villa Eyrie offers a spa and has its own restaurant, Alpina. The resort has a pool, but due to COVID-19 concerns, it remains closed indefinitely.
Alpina serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and its menu, under the direction of Executive Chef Mario Gross, adds to the hotel's European vibe, thanks to his German roots. Dishes like jagerschnitzel (a thin pork cutlet lightly crumbed and fried) and geschnetzeltes Zurich-style (pork tenderloin braised in a cream-infused sauce) show off the chef's heritage deliciously, while the elegant scallops with a saffron-tinged risotto meld our bountiful Pacific with across-the-pond sensibilities. Soak up the view from your table, and if you time it right during dinner, you can track the fading of the light and the pinks and the deepening purples of the sunset skies over Finlayson Arm.
And there we are, back to that view. It's the kind of vista that leaves a powerful impression, whether you're catching it as you wind your way to the top of the Villa Eyrie property, sipping your morning coffee watching the sunrise from your balcony, or tucking into a creamy Caesar salad from your window seat inside Alpina restaurant.
Villa Eyrie is located at 600 Ebadora Lane in Malahat, B.C.