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Story and Photos by Donna Yuen

Linda sinks her fingers into my right shoulder and says, "Your muscles are extremely tight."

"I know." I reply, astonished at her quick and accurate assessment.

Linda is the Manager of the Madrona del Mar Spa at the Galiano Inn, and I'm fortunate to have her as my masseuse today. She delves deep into the tissue, skillfully relieving months of painful tension in my shoulder. While at work on my back, neck and shoulders, she tells me how she started the first Ayurvedic spa in Canada, and goes on to fill me in on the history of the Galiano Inn which has been a resort since the 1930's. Devastated by fire in the 1950's, it was rebuilt as a fishing lodge. The current owners acquired it in 2000, and have renovated the property with a focus on conservation and environmental harmony.

After my massage I am asked to select a wrap treatment for my skin, so I scan the list of available choices. Linda has years of expertise in creating exotic treatments from locally based ingredients, and the wraps range from blueberry smoothie to chocolate butter crème. The descriptions all sound scrumptious (and fattening!) so I opt for a low calorie choice-a hemp scrub and glacial clay wrap, made up of a combination of organic cane sugar, British Columbia glacial clay and crushed hemp seed. Linda says the treatment is recommended for detoxification, toning and purifying and as hemp seed is known to be high in omega 3 and 6 along with GLA (Gamma Linoleic Acid) she has incorporated it into their signature spa menu choices. "It is a perfect detoxifying agent," she explains, "and the result is lovely smooth, soft skin."

In between spa sessions, I stroll through the gardens of the Galiano Inn admiring the eye-catching, multihued spikes of Red Hot Pokers (also known as torch lilies) which are over a metre high. The summer air is filled with the scent of lavender, and the soft splash of the fountain adds to the gentle serenity of my surroundings-a perfect environment for meditation and yoga exercises.

En route to the Galiano Inn's floatation pool, I peek into my travel companion's room at the spa. She is in mid-treatment, and looks dreamily up at me. I ask, "If you could choose one word to describe this weekend, what would it be?" "Bliss," she whispers and closes her eyes again. We are both relishing this long overdue weekend of pampering, gourmet meals, and girl-friend chat sessions over fine wine that extend late into the evening.

Meanwhile, the floatation pool now awaits me. Saturated with sea mineral salts the waters are soothing and therapeutic. In the dimly lit room with soft music playing, I close my eyes and drift on the surface of the pool, lulled into utter relaxation by the sensation of weightlessness.

We conclude our weekend on Galiano with a visit to Morning Beach to watch a spectacular sunrise. Splinters of sunlight break through the deep midnight-blue sky; shapes and outlines of craggy trees and moss covered rocks start to take form as the light intensifies. We sit in silence, letting the dawn seep into our consciousness.

Later that day, refreshed and rejuvenated, we board the ferry that takes us back to Vancouver's noise and bustle. I carry with me like a talisman, the memory of this tranquil weekend-my own little slice of West Coast bliss.


The Galiano Inn and Spa is located at 134 Madrona Drive, Galiano Island 55 minutes by ferry from Vancouver, and 15 minutes by float plane, the Galiano Inn and Spa is an easily accessible weekend refuge.

Call toll free 1-877-530-3939 or visit


1. Red Hot Pokers and the Ferry Dock
2. Flotation Pool
3. Morning Beach
4. Sunrise at Morning Beach
5. Scenery at Morning Beach

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