A touch of Japan makes Bahari beautiful in many languages
Perched on the forested cliffs near Qualicum Beach, the Bahari B&B certainly lives up to its name. In Swahili, Bahari means By water, in Persian it's The Season Spring and in Bengali, it translates as beautiful... three descriptions that only hint of what this secluded getaway provides its guests.
Bahari is full of surprises, in large part because of the attention to detail that hosts Yvonne and Len Hooper have created West Coast luxury with a Japanese ambience. From the embroidered wedding kimono that hangs as a centrepiece in the hall to raku pottery that shares space with beautiful Ikebana, the Bahari is a work of art. In fact, throughout Bahari, we found fascinating works of art, mostly by Canadian artists: "paintings" of textured fabric, small designs made out of porcupine needle and moose hair, and a kaleidescope display that kept us amused for hours.
In each of its four bedrooms, Yvonne has custom-designed drapes, bedspreads and accessories to make every room unique. And her finishing touches are extraordinary. One example is her flair for shells, which should relegate Martha Stewart to the sidelines. Harvesting her raw supplies from the midden down the road, Yvonne's shells become curtain hooks, door numbers, bathroom ornaments and fabric motifs. And to top it off? Shell-shaped chocolates dished up on shells a welcoming treat.
Breakfast is a gourmet feast with home-made granola, fresh fruit and a delicious home-cooked selection. We chose to sit at the communal table which turned out to be a real delight in more ways than one. Bahari hosts visitors from all over the world and conversation was so interesting, we found ourselves still sitting around the table well into the morning while Yvonne supplied endless cups of coffee, tea and fresh juice. She is an engaging host and whether it's making sure early birds have coffee available for a sun-rise stroll, or the tea and home-baked cookies she brings to your room as a nightcap, Yvonne makes you feel like her treasured friends.
Because Bahari is situated mid-island, it's an excellent base from which to explore further afield... the trails through Cathedral Grove, Horne Lake Caves and Pacific Rim National Park. For us, however, we stayed closer to home to enjoy this oasis of tranquility, venturing down to the beach and meandering through the forest along Bahari's Philosopher's Walk.
We also spent an afternoon in picturesque Qualicum Village, discovering an array of gift stores, art studios and funky galleries. Smithford's is a must-see. This store boasts of "having everything you don't need" such as whimsical wooden animals carved by local folk artist Don Thompson. We fell in love with "Major," a cross-lab made in birch which now stands guard at our front door. You can't miss the store; just look for the white picket fence with dozens of wooden cats across its top.
Looking for lunch? The Harmony Cafe's the local favourite. Need dinner? You can't beat the Beachside Cafe. The atmosphere's casual, the food's good and the location's right on the water.
However you spend your day, do include a soak in the Bahari's rotenburo a hot tub that clings to a rocky promontory with sweeping views of the Georgia Straight. It's a spectacular experience, that had us believing we were almost a part of the horizon itself. Little wonder why guests describe Bahari as a "wonderful piece of paradise" and a place that's "truly a slice of heaven."
HOW TO GET TO THE BAHARI
Vancouver and other Lower Mainland travellers: B.C. Ferries accommodates travellers from Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay terminals to Duke Point or Departure Bay. General Information for sailing schedule is 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779)
Take Island Highway #19- one-half hour north of Nanaimo to Qualicum Beach. Drive through Qualicum (the main thoroughfare is Memorial Drive, also Hwy #4) that leads you to Highway #19A. Bahari is located off this highway. After approximately 11 km, watch for the signs on the right hand side.
The Bahari Bed & Breakfast
5101 Island Highway, Qualicum Beach, Vancouver Island, V9K lZl
Web site: www.baharibandb.com
Hosts: Yvonne & Len Hooper
Price Range: $185 (June 1 - Sept 30) $85-$135 (off season)
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