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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

House by the Sea...

Updated: Jan 27, 2021

Or in Gaelic......Tigh-Na-Mara...


Today was our spa day at Tigh-Na-Mara spa! We were both really looking forward to some pampering at the spa. Richard has NEVER had a full day at the spa in his life before, so this is going to be a big treat for him!

We headed south on the Coastal Hwy 19a, towards the cutoff for the main Hwy 19 and just as we were about to turn onto Hwy 19, didn’t the “Check Engine Light” go on again in Jerry!

Richard was a bit frustrated, since he had visited the Chrysler dealership yesterday in Courtenay to have them turn off the “Check Engine Light”. I think he probably should just get a sticker to cover it up! The weather was a bit rainy and -1C when we left Fanny Bay. We could see there was a lot more snow on the Vancouver Island Mountains, which must have fallen yesterday, while we were getting rained on. As we arrived in Parksville, where Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa resort is located, the temperature was up to a balmy +2C. A perfect day to be indoors, getting pampered at the spa!

I would be remiss though if I didn’t tell you a bit about the resort, before telling you all about our spa day!

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa resort was born from humble beginnings with a single tent, in 1946 to a picturesque 22-acre property surrounded by towering Douglas fir, cedar and arbutus forests, perched above 3 km of sandy beach, with panoramic views of the Strait of Georgia.

The resort has 17 different room types, with many of them featuring log cabins, or log beams in the rooms.


The reason we went to Tigh-Na-Mara, is my son Josh and his girlfriend Alicia gave us a gift card towards the resort and instead of staying at the property, we elected to “spa” for the day instead. Thank you to both of them for such an amazing gift!

Entrance to the parking lot for the Grotto spa. Our spa day was to start at 10am and we arrived at 9:45am.

Spa building at Tigh-Na-Mara

When we were waiting to go into the spa, Richard called up the Chrysler dealership in Courtenay to see if we could bring Jerry in tomorrow to check if he needs a new fuel sensor, which might be causing the “Check Engine Light” as well as “Gas Cap” warning lights to be on. Richard was able to get an appointment for 1pm tomorrow in Courtenay and while he was on the phone, I was scoping out trails near the dealership we could hike tomorrow. There is always a trail to hike on the Island! Who wants to wait in a dealership waiting area anyway?

We were really happy with the Covid protocols at the spa. Before we even entered the building we were greeted with a small table outdoors with hand sanitizer, face masks and a sign that said “Sanitize hands. Please take a fresh mask from the box. Place the mask on your face. Re-sanitize your hands. Once you have finished, please buzz for an attendant”. Our attendant greeted us at the door and set us up with the mandatory checklists to be completed, before any spa treatment, including a Covid 19 checklist, which we also had to complete and sign.

Richard completing his forms for the spa. All we had to bring with us to the spa were our bathing suits.

My Spa medical history & waiver form. This is the first time I have ever written my occupation as “retired!”. I’m glad I was able to take a photo to capture the moment! I almost wrote VP @ Scotiabank, but then remembered, oh...that’s my old life...I’m really retired now!

We were given a brief tour of the ground floor of the spa including for me, the ladies locker room, and told that our treatments would be on the 3rd floor of the spa and we should proceed to the 3rd floor by either the stairs or elevator at 11am. In the meantime, we were free to use the Grotto spa for the next hour!

Grotto spa. There was only one other person in the grotto spa today for the first 30 minutes while we were there for our hour, and then we were in the grotto spa by ourselves for the rest of our time there. The spa has severely reduced its capacity to keep everyone safe. The grotto spa had a lovely hot tub in the top right, waterfalls in the bottom left and a cold shower hidden behind the hot tub. We really enjoyed relaxing in the warm water and getting in the right “zen” mindset for our spa treatments we had booked. We had to keep our phones in our lockers for the day as well as my camera, so I had to find this picture of the grotto spa on the internet.

After almost an hour enjoying the grotto spa, and after a quick shower, we met up again upstairs on the 3rd floor lounge. The lounge had room for probably 30 people and today there was 1 other person waiting for spa treatments. We were served our choice of flavoured water and a small package of energy mix - cashews, dried cherries and dark chocolate. The waiting lounge had a wonderful ambience, with 3 fireplaces, and views from the windows overlooking the forest surrounding the spa.

Promptly at 11:15 we were greeted by our spa therapists, Nicole and Ness. Anytime we walked anywhere in the spa, we were all wearing masks. We headed down to the 2nd floor to the treatment rooms and Richard went with Nicole, while I headed into my room with Ness.

We both chose the Grotto Bliss Package 1, Treatment Series which included a: Body Polish, Foot Paraffin Treatment and Relaxation Massage. I chose the apricot scrub which had a coarser exfoliation and Richard chose the salt scrub which had a milder exfoliation.

Our treatments were to last 75 minutes each. We each started off with a wash and body scrub. When we were lying face down we didn’t need to mask up, but as soon as we flipped over, the mask went back on and our spa therapist always had her mask on.

After the body scrub, Ness started the shower for me, while I scrubbed off the scrub. My skin felt as new as a baby’s! After she quickly changed the linens over, I was ready for my massage. I had the lavender massage oil and did she ever give me a great massage! I don’t per se like aromatherapy massages and I was afraid that was what I was going to get. Instead, she gave me a great deep tissue massage and it felt amazing to finally get a massage after so many months of not having a massage! Ness was really careful with my scar on my leg, thoroughly massaging the scar tissue and being very gentle with me.

The foot paraffin was a really nice treat too. Everything on my body feels like new, rejuvenated skin! WOW!!!

We met up again after our 75 minutes of therapy at the spa lounge for a few minutes of relaxing, before we headed into the very small Treetop Tapas & Grill restaurant which was right off the spa lounge. Included in our spa day was unlimited Tapas from the Tapas menu at Treetop Tapas & Grill. Richard had never had the experience of going to a spa dining room in his bath robe and since he was the only man in the spa today, he really enjoyed being so relaxed in his robe and flip flops over lunch!

Talk about a decadent meal after such a relaxing spa day! We didn’t have our phones with us unfortunately, so we couldn’t take photos of the tapas as they were brought out for us to try. Instead of the Pacific Halibut we had Sturgeon. Neither one of us had ever had Sturgeon before. We discovered that Sturgeon is a river fish that is native to British Columbia and the average lifespan is 50-60 years. Sturgeon can grow from 7-12 feet in length. Of course everyone knows that sturgeon are harvest for their roe, which is processed into caviar, but who has ever eaten the actual fish? We found the fish was quite ’meaty’ and not fishy at all. It was not flakey and we thought it could be served on a bun like a fish fillet sandwich, because it wouldn’t fall apart.

The tapas menu featured many items sourced from local proprietors on Vancouver Island - almost a ‘farm to table’ approach to the menu. The “Spiced Shepherd” cheese is from Goats on the Roof in Coombs. The “Clever Crow” Pinot noir sea salt served with the Seafood Charcuterie is from a farmer in Black Creek (just north of Comox) who started his business in 2013, seeing a need for artisan Canadian sea salt. Now the Clever Crow proprietors also do other seasonings like taco, steak, Dukakis and Comox bay seasonings. Clever Crow has a Farm Store, so I think we will have to make a trip to visit the store in February when they open back up to the public! If anyone wants to buy from them directly online the website is They will ship anywhere in Canada. You can also like them on Facebook and see what they are up to.

Richard’s favourite tapas of the day was the Salt Spring Mussels followed by the Lamb. My favourite was the Beef. We quickly filled up and had to tell our server not to bring us the scallops, or duck. There was no way we wanted to waste the food if it had been served to us, but we were both really full after such a delightful meal. We could have ordered a bottle of wine, or any other type of beverage we wanted with our meal, but we elected to drink water and I had a berry smoothie with my lunch. We asked to takeout our dessert so we could eat it at home in Newman.

Panna cotta, brownies, and decadent coconut and dark chocolate mousse (my favourite)!!

After returning to the change rooms and showering and getting dressed, we were back in Jerry around 3:30pm. We had been told that our day would end around 3:30pm and they were very prompt with everything today. Grotto spa has been voted the #1 spa in Canada and we could definitely see why the spa would get this rating! It was such a nice way to spend a day and really pamper ourselves after our adventures getting to the Island, and all of the trials and tribulations we have had since being away from home! Let’s face it, 2020 was bad! And on top of everything, I broke my femur, so it was really, really bad. Today was a great start to 2021!

We both felt that a walk was definitely needed after eating so many different tapas items at Treetop Tapas & Grill. We were very close to Rathrevor Beach Provincial Park, so we decided to drive over the Park to hike around a bit and get some exercise.

We had been to Rathrevor Beach Provincial Park before, where we had seen wild rabbits everywhere, but this time we parked in a different section of the park and discovered some new things. As we drove into the park, past the gate house, we found that some people were actually camping in the park with their travel trailers, with full hook ups in some beautiful wooded lots! There are 174 campsites in the park. I was unable to find out what the cost was online, but what a stunning place to camp!

We saw this sign that said “Nature House” so we walked down to see what this building was all about. The ‘Nature House’ operates in Rathtrevor Provincial Park without government funding and depends on donations at the door sales in the gift shop and user fees for tours and programs. Pre-Covid, the Nature House ran camps for kids and other fun stuff for kids when camping with their parents in the park. “Jerry’s Rangers Program” at the Nature House used to run every day at 2:30pm and also had a 7:30pm evening program in the summer. Let’s hope the Nature House is up and running again soon once Covid is beaten to the ground!

Nature House in RathTrevor Beach Provincial Park. There are other Nature Houses throughout the Island in B.C. Provincial Parks.

Decorations of Canada Geese on the Nature House done by kids who have enjoyed their programs In the past.

We saw another sign in the park for an amphitheatre, so wandered down through the forest to see what the amphitheatre was all about.

Very small amphitheatre in Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. There was a very large grassy area behind the benches which I imagine in the summer time people bring their own lawn chairs to sit and listen to a concert in the forest. What a nice spot to listen to an acoustic duo under the stars!

A very rugged beach at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.

Huge pieces of driftwood at RathTrevor Beach Provincial Park. Notice the snow on the Vancouver Island Mountain range in the background.

My ‘new’ Cowichan sweater is really very warm on a windy, cool +2C day on the beach. I love this sweater!

Richard was pretty cold to put his hood up over his warm toque.

All we saw was the very rocky shore at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. We keep going to this park when the tide is at high tide and we think to ourselves ‘this is not a nice beach’! Richard checked the tourist information boards that were posted on the boardwalk and apparently at low tide there is a huge sandy beach which makes this such a popular Provincial park in the summertime.

Somebody ate this crab for lunch!

Driftwood sculpture.

Artsy shot of rocks set up on a log.

Windy, raw day at Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.

Still smiling despite the cold!

After hiking around the park for close to an hour, we decided we would head for home. Richard says his ’lymphatic system‘ is ‘moving’! Hilarious!

As I’m writing the blog tonight, Richard has been watching You Tube videos of a guy who replaced his roof on his 2004 Newmar Dutchstar RV. I asked him if he’s getting ideas or if he really thinks he wants to replace his own roof? He says he’s leaving the roof replacement to St. Stephen who knows how to do it, but he wanted to do his ’research’ to at least understand what the process is. Oh my goodness! Richard is starting to fall in love again with Newman since he is behaving lately and we aren’t having any more daily disasters!

We are both very “ZEN“ after such a lovely day at the spa. We both feel so relaxed and pampered!

Namaste.....peace out!

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