The healing waters of Halcyon Hot Springs Resort calm the whole system in a landscape that inspires awe
Words & Photography: Lia Crowe
Over the resplendent peaks of distant mountains, dark clouds tinged with purple and orange spill towards Arrow Lake like an avalanche full with the threat of rain and electricity. I’m simultaneously charged by the powerful storm unfolding in front of us—and completely at peace, thanks to the warm waters of the hot springs in which my partner and I are currently soaking.
Deep in the Slocan Valley, nestled between the great Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges, lies Halcyon Hot Springs Resort, which is steeped in history and situated in the pristine postcard-worthy wilderness of BC. It taps into healing waters that are unique in their naturally occurring high lithia content and flow from deep within the mountains.
Arriving at Halcyon, we immediately drop into a different frequency. Everything from the aromatherapy candle to the mindful reading material and chilled white wine in our cabin indicates we have entered a space where wellbeing is at the forefront. We rejoice at the bliss of having no cell service—although wifi is available throughout if needed—and settle in for a few days of connection and self-care to the soundtrack of wild birdsong.
Delightfully “nerding out” on the history of Halcyon—a word used to reference times of calm and tranquility—I discover that the first hotel was built on the property in 1890, when visitors came to soak in the lithium-laden mineral waters, believed to aid in a variety of ailments from rheumatism to strokes. As we tour the property with marketing manager Patrick Spencer, its history is palpable and I easily envision guests arriving by steamship to experience the restorative nature of the healing waters.
Halcyon has been through many transformations since the 1890s, partly due to a devastating fire in 1955 and a rebuild in 1998. Today, as one tours the 33-acre property there are remnants of the past—such as a beautiful preserved chapel, dating back to the 1950s—juxtaposed against areas of new growth, such as the luxurious accommodations, a gorgeous outdoor sanctuary that will be used as an event space and the site of a future food garden and greenhouse.
Under new ownership now, the resort continues to evolve with a distinct vision as a unique, world-class, luxury experience. Part of that vision is to add to the relaxation component offered by the hot springs and full-service spa by partnering with local adventure tourism companies. The goal is to support local businesses and, at the same time, expand the guest experience to include activities such as whitewater rafting, fishing charters, yoga retreats, artisan workshops and helicopter tours in summer and winter.
“We want guests to enjoy the slow life and, if they want, have something else to do. It’s important to us that we take care of our local community as well,” says Patrick.
The resort recently brought in Chef Darryl Crumb to head up the Alcedo restaurant, and his experience ranges from being on Top Chef Canada to cooking in high-end restaurants in Paris, France. Darryl says he’s all about simple, high-quality, farm-to-table food reminiscent of the cuisine of the French alps, and he believes in making everything from scratch.
“I grew up on a farm in Manitoba, which is where my love of food started, and it has always been a dream of mine to share that farm-to-table experience. We have some really nice farms in this area so we’ll keep it as local as possible and grow as much as possible on this property. I really hope to make this a culinary destination.”
I have to agree with Darryl as our enjoyment of spending hours in the hot springs and then unwinding further with a massage in the spa is now equally matched as we’re presented with a plate of fresh Kusshi oysters, cold and flavourful, followed by smoked duck that melts in my mouth, all the while gazing out on the million-dollar view as the sun dips behind the mountains.