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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 1, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 9
Honeymooners' paradise - Orcas Island is a little slice of heaven in Seattle's backyard
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Honeymooners' paradise - Orcas Island is a little slice of heaven in Seattle's backyard

by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Travel Writer

The Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful scenery our country offers. The San Juan Islands are not only scenic but are highly accessible to Seattle-area residents. While San Juan itself is probably better known, Orcas Island is a wonderful destination for a wedding, honeymoon, or weekend escape.

One of the coziest places on Orcas Island has the easiest name to remember: The Inn on Orcas Island (www.theinnonorcasisland.com). Hosts and longtime couple Jeremy and John provide a house built to their specifications to be decorative and comfortable. The Inn can host weddings of up to 30 to 40 people with indoor seating. The walls are covered with beautiful paintings from the gallery the pair once owned. If leisurely reading is your style, the open, wooden library awaits. The solarium welcomes those who'd rather relax in natural light, looking out through the glass walls at the serene setting. The bedrooms all feature either king or queen beds, and for honeymooners there is the Waterside Cottage, for complete privacy and romantic water views. All rooms have televisions, mini-refrigerators with welcome champagne, and fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies! Although there is no restaurant or bar on the premises, breakfast with coffee and juice is served in the morning. It's the perfect getaway destination for any couple.

Cabins-On-The-Point (www.cabinsonthepoint.com) is another great choice for a small wedding party or a honeymooning couple. Cabins on the edge of the point offer spectacular views of the water, while others, more tucked away, allow tree canopies to provide romance and privacy. All are excellent choices for intimate escapes. Sunset House is for those wanting a private waterfront residence for small weddings. The property provides a private beach for a complete romantic situation.

BACK TO NATURE
The Turtleback Farm Inn (www.turtlebackinn.com) is perfect for those who want to escape all the trappings of modern society. There are no TVs here, only complete relaxation. Several acres of land unfold before the guests with water views and roaming sheep. The main guesthouse includes seven bedrooms, each with its own bath and refrigerator. Six of the rooms have queen beds with one being a double bed. In the second building there are four rooms, each with a king bed, private bath, and refrigerator. Both buildings include pass-through windows for complimentary morning coffee/tea service, for complete privacy. The property is able to host smaller weddings for up to 20 people.

For couples seeking a green or rural setting, the Doe Bay Resort & Retreat (http://doebay.com) offers many varieties for several types of weddings. The grounds are beautiful and provide a view of the water, as the name suggests. There are yurts available (circular, wooden-framed structures) for a rustic experience. Cabins to accommodate as many as 22 guests make entertaining easy, and even easier for the couple to slip away to a more private suite on the grounds. The on-premises Doe Bay Café boasts a rotating 'seed-to-table' menu. Serving as much as possible from the resort's own garden and neighboring farms, the café offers primarily vegetarian fare with several locally caught seafood options. Choices vary from buttery green Castelvetrano olives to salmon-bacon bites. For the heartier appetite, the smoky bean stew will warm and satisfy. A large selection of delicious ales, meads, beers, wines, and champagne accompanies the food. Feeling full? Enjoy a walk around the grounds, or the open-air hot tubs and saunas can help set the scene for a perfect evening.

If going grand is your style, look into the Rosario Resort & Spa (www.rosarioresort.com). Set on the border of Moran State Park, the beautiful grounds offer scenic views of the wooded trees or the sparkling water among the mountains. Since it became a resort in 1960, the rooms have been refurbished and the property can host a reception of up to 250 people. A restaurant and a spa add to the full-service experience. Providing all amenities for a wedding (i.e., food and decorations), the Rosario offers exquisite spots for photo opportunities and wonderful memories. The property can even host those who choose to dock their boats at the on-site marina.

GETTING THERE
Anacortes is about a 90-minute drive from the heart of Seattle proper. The ferry ride costs approximately $45, but it is a round-trip price allowing an easier time returning to the mainland. Depending on what day/time and ferry you engage, the boat may stop at Lopez or San Juan Island first, but eventually will finish at Orcas Island. Make sure you have an island map handy (get one online or on the boat), as GPS devices may not be reliable. It can be very dark at night with limited (if any) street lighting, plus the roads are as curvaceous as a femme fatale - and should be navigated with just as much care! When coming back make sure you leave enough time at the ferry dock to enjoy shopping at the Orcas Village Store (www.orcasvillagestore.com) for a delightful surprise of fine gourmet cooking items and delicious deli sandwiches for the ferry ride home.

While spring can offer a stereotypically colorful setting for a wedding, a fall or winter ceremony has its own appeal and beautiful scenery provided by nature. No matter where on the island you decide on for a setting, the grounds are beautiful with forests and bodies of water alike. Holding your wedding 'off-season' can make planning easier. The specific desired day is usually easier to book, and fall/winter pricing makes it even more tempting with rooms available at any of these resorts for less than in downtown Seattle. As the famous saying goes, 'True happiness can be found in your own backyard.' Go out and explore the San Juans!

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