Friday, May 27, 2005

Rosario Resort Review or how we spent 3 days on Orcas Island

Lately I find myself doing reviews on a variety of things. This is one of those reviews.
In a spur of the moment, no planning moment, my partner booked us a short vacation on Orcas Island in the San Juans.
She usually plans about a year in advance, so making reservations 2 weeks in advance was definitely a spur of the moment.

The San Juan Islands are located between the U.S. and Canada as part of Washington State.
The location provides weather that is not always typical of Washington State's reputation. This trip was no exception.
The weather was spectacular!

We stayed at the Rosario Resort.

{Author's note: my mother always said if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Sorry mom!}

Rosario Resort should be an excellent place to stay. Perhaps because we are not part of the yachting set, we didn't appreciate the nuances of the place.
To better know our point of view, we are...

My partner is a curvaious artist/writer type, while I am an older computer geekish painter/writer type.
We work for a living and have some disposable income.
Our tastes in food, art, music, and activities vary from refined to common place.
I figure we are your average, non-millionaires.

Back to the review.

Expectations are everything when considering and evaluating what you get.
From Rosario, we expected a very nice room with a view of the Rosario Mansion across the inlet.
What we got was a very large well appointed room that had the sound proofing of a cardboard box and the view of a very own personal evergreen tree.
And this was one of the upscale hillside rooms.
To cap off our stay, on the last morning, we were awaken to the gentle humming of a CHAINSAW!
When asked how our stay was, my partner didn't mention the ability to hear our neighbors walking around, flushing the toilet or whispering to each other.
No, she only mentioned that she didn't appreciate the chainsaw wake up call. To that, the desk clerk said something like, well they didn't start until 9:35!
Like the 5 minutes after 9:30 had some significance!
For my partner that was the topper to our stay at Rosario Resort.

My recommendation is if you want a better view, nicer people and quieter rooms, stay at the Cascade Harbor Inn.
They are located just below the Rosario hillside rooms and the folks were far more friendly.
We even got a tour of one of the rooms because we had stopped to take the picture we wanted to take from our Rosario Resort room.

Be assured that the small fact of our room "sucking" was not the only whine we had with Rosario Resort.
We received a $50 credit for the restaurant when we registered. Thinking that this was a pretty good deal, we had dinner in the Mansion's restaurant the first night.
I must admit the food was great! Expensive, but great! The menu is limited. But even that was not the biggest drawback.
Our dining experience started out with the host and hostess heatedly discussing some scheduling issue as we approached...
After a few moments, they realized that we were serious about having dinner there, anyway, and seated us at a view table.
The service was very good and we never wanted for anything. except for the host and hostess to NOT continue their "discussions" several times during dinner beside our table. Clearly, they were aware of my partner's desire to help people and were indirectly seeking her out. Unfortunately, the only thing they were invoking from us was annoyance, which they were of course obivious to and entertained themselves without our assistance.

That said, the trip was very enjoyable. When we were awaken in the middle of the night (room notes above), we were able to view a beautiful full moon gleaming on the water across the Sounds. We had absolutely gorgeous weather. And the other people and places we visited made the trip to Orcas Island a memory worth the remembrance.

In particular, the points worth the trip were:

Mt Constitution is 2409 feet above the Sounds and provides a 360 degree view of the Olympics, Cascades, Puget Sound and in particular on the day we were there of Mount Baker and Mount Rainier. Simply spectacular!

The town (I use that term loosely) of Olga. We stoppped at Cafe Olga for lunch. To our surprise it also housed the James Hardman gallery and a place for the Orcas Island Artworks members to show their varied art. I was entranced by James Hardman's music and Rita McKinney's watercolors. Purchasing pieces from each.
Now, onto lunch. If you are on Orcas Island, go out of your way to stop and eat at Cafe Olga. You will not be disappointed. A more pleasant place to eat can not be found and the food we had was world class. Low snob appeal, sorry.

There is a small cafe on the main drive through Eastsound, that I am sorry to say I forgot the name, where we went each of the 3 days we were on the island. Twice for ice cream cones (a summer vacation tradition for us) and once for breakfast (on the chainsaw morning, which saved that day).

Other things of interest were the Deer Harbor herons, Orcas Island Pottery (this is a must see for the electic pottery displays and the beautiful view of the Sounds)
If you are into things like kayaking, hiking, whale watching and bicycling (in particular bicycling) there are lots of activities and opportunities available.
We are into beach walks, folksmarching, art and quiet. Art is definitely here on the island. But the beaches are mostly private, marching wasn't scheduled while we were there and quiet... well you heard the room story so that overshadows any quiet memories.

We will explore the other San Juan islands next time and maybe hop the ferry over to Cafe Olga for lunch and the art. For us, Rosario Resort was the low-light of that 3 day jaunt.

As with all reviews, these are my opinions. It would be best to form your own. Just be warned, I told you so!

No comments: