One of southwest British Columbiaís popular weekend getaway destinations is Harrison Hot Springs. Located a little over an hourís drive east of Vancouver (and about 3 hours drive north of Seattle) at the south end of Harrison Lake in the Fraser Valley, it is the closest natural hot spring to the Lower Mainland.
The lake is a natural draw for boaters, canoeists, and kayakers, while the local mountains offer up a range of hiking and climbing opportunities. Rock hounds take note: there are Jurassic fossils in the nearby hills. Golf courses are also located nearby. Dining offerings range from pub fare to white table cloth elegance. And with accommodations ranging from campsites and trailer parks to a handful of hotels, Harrison Hot Springs appears to have something for everyone. But is it the best place for a seniorís getaway?
Unless youíre an outdoor enthusiast, there isnít much to do in Harrison Hot Springs. The annual Sandcastle Contest and yearly Festival of the Arts draw large crowds, but the village is so small available accommodation is quickly booked during those event periods, and itís next to impossible to get a table at any restaurant during those times. In the winter months, there isnít much to do in the tiny village Ė making matters worse, many of the shops and restaurants close after the summerís rush.
For many, the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa is reason enough to make the journey. The remote location has made the resort an ideal setting for conferences (it has hosted big labour conventions for years), and the picturesque setting makes it the perfect backdrop for weddings. And it would seem the thought of taking the waters is the mature travelerís dream of getting away from it all.
But the Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa has seen better days. Yes, there are some newer rooms, but many others could do with an extreme makeover (some bathrooms in the west wing have been completely painted Ė including wall and floor tile, and hardware Ė bathtub liners were so ill-fitting that it moves underfoot making for an unsafe shower experience, and much of the furniture is well-worn.).
Unless itís a lake view room (and not one over the noisy ballroom), expect to hear lots of noise from the outdoor pools. Most room rates do not include a complimentary breakfast, so be sure to factor that into the bottom line. Another note about the bottom line: now that Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts have taken over the resortís operations, there is no longer a seniorís discount. Worse, AAA discounts donít always apply. So ask about discounts when making reservations.
On the good news front, you donít have to be a hotel guest to book a treatment at the resortís pricey Healing Springs Spa. (And other village spas, such as the one at the Executive Hotel around the corner, are equally good and less expensive). If you book more than $200 in spa treatments, the Healing Springs spa operators will throw in a complimentary pass to the resortís beautiful hot-spring-fed pools. On the other hand, if you opt for another hotel or a local campsite, you can still enjoy the public hot-spring-fed pool in the village for a nominal fee.
In summary, given the standards of other four-star hotels, The Harrison Hot Springs Resort & Spa is very over-priced with room appointments falling far below the star-ranked standard. In general, a real disappointment.