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Semiahmoo

Longtime favorite re-opens after 8-month hiatus

By CARY ORDWAY

If you were living in the Northwest back in the late 80s, you could not escape the hoopla that accompanied the grand opening of Semiahmoo, a golf resort and spa that had been built on the perfect piece of land for a Northwest coastal resort. The developers had bought a spit of land with water on three sides and went about creating a paradise of a resort with views and serenity that kept people coming back for many years.

Fast forward to 2013 and the resort is new once again, just re-opened after an eight-month closure while the resort changed owners and got some sprucing up. There are still many big changes in store with the final product scheduled to be in place by April 2014, but there is plenty to warrant a visit to the resort this fall and winter.

The resort is located at the northwestern tip of Washington state, just a few miles across the water and west from Blaine and its famous border crossing into British Columbia. The road to the resort leaves Interstate 5 a few miles south of Blaine and takes visitors through the gorgeous Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club, along a narrow spit, past some upscale vacation properties and onto the Semiahmoo Resort grounds.

Those visitors who may have been disappointed with a visit in the last couple years or so will be pleasantly surprised with the new attention to detail. Service and food seemed to be the primary complaints before the resort closed, but the current resort is getting rave reviews in both of those areas if you take a moment to check a few of the online reviews. We did even better than that; we visited the newly re-opened property to see for ourselves.

If you did not know the resort had been through some financial upheaval, you probably would not notice any real issues because the new owners have already put great emphasis on the aforementioned service with staff attentive as they could be during our stay. Packers Restaurant is the only dining available on site so you will be glad to know that the food complaint seems to have been completely rectified. Our meals at the restaurant were delightful and guests were raving about the food (the halibut seems to come up very often).

A resort more than two decades old will always have a few little things that seem dated, so anyone who frequents the resorts built within the past few years will find small differences. The bathroom faucet may not be the absolute latest, and room design may not quite measure up to your current copy of Architectural Digest, but the aging issues are pretty few and far between, and even those will be addressed in a major remodel next spring. More importantly, the new owners have focused on getting every room spotless and completely functional and adding really significant amenities such as super-comfy mattresses guaranteed to produce maximum slumber.

The resort, in fact, has aged quite well. From the moment you arrive, the unique architecture will beckon you to the grand, luxurious lobby with its emphasis on elegantly finished wood and complementary furnishings. The grand staircase might just give you a momentary thought of that staircase made so famous on the Titanic, although there is no need to worry about this resort sinking anytime soon. Yes, there is water everywhere you look with the sea on one side and the bay on another while spectacular boats navigate the third side on their way to port, but this sandspit is as solid and stable as can be.

The spit does allow for some great family activities, such as the exploration of the coastline where kids will enjoy finding all manner of treasure washed up on shore. The views stretch on forever, which is why Packers Oyster House occupies a prime plot of land right along the shoreline. There are wide decks close by that are also fun to explore and that take you to the original seafood cannery that operated on this spit for decades. The cannery brought as many as 30 ships to this part of the state and a reminder of that is the nearby marina where huge fishing boats have been replaced by somewhat smaller pleasure craft whose owners find this a great place to tie up for frequent explorations along the B.C. coast.

Semiahmoo Spit, which separates Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor, includes the Semiahmoo County Park where you will find more than 300 acres of tideland and 1.5 miles of level pathways. Bird-watchers and nature-lovers will be in heaven because the spit is a top birding destination. The waterways here attract thousands of ducks, loons, geese, gulls and shorebirds as well as the bald eagle, peregrine falcon and marbled murrelet.

Altogether, Semiahmoo Resort features 213 rooms with many of them in prime spots offering spectacular views of the water. Our room was spacious, well-appointed and featured such amenities as a refrigerator and a convenient one-cup coffee brewer (we are told you can get more of the one-cup packets at the front desk once you have used up the four you will find in your room). A large flat-screen television is included and beds, as we mentioned, are definitely upscale.

A stay at Semiahmoo can be as quiet as a walk on the beach or curling up to read a good book in the resort library, but the more active visitors will find that the resort offers an impressive fitness center with indoor track as well as a full-service spa and resort-style outdoor pool. Golfers will be in paradise with two top-rated courses, the Semiahmoo Golf and Country Club and the Loomis Golf Trail Club.

With its proximity to the border, Semiahmoo is an ideal base of operations for daytrips into the Vancouver area and other parts of western British Columbia. The city of Vancouver is just 35 miles from Blaine.

Big plans are in the works for Semiahmoo Resort, and the owners will be spending millions of dollars to add things, re-arrange things and generally bring the resort completely up to date. But even now, with one of the best locations for a resort in the Northwest and the first stage of the overhaul already completed, this resort is not exactly chopped liver.

For more information on Semiahmoo Resort, phone 855-917-3767 or visit www.semiahmoo.com

Photos, from top: Semiahmoo is in the perfect location for a Northwest resort; Semiahmoo's location makes it ideal for a family getaway; unique architecture and beachfront location are hallmarks of Semiahmoo

Top photo courtesy SEMIAHMOO RESORT; middle photo and home page photo by OUSMANE DIOP; bottom photo by CARY ORDWAY

OTHER DESTINATIONS: If you're looking for other Northwest travel ideas, be sure to check out other Northwest Travel Advisor articles on Northwest zoos, Northwest water vacations, Port Townsend and Seattle attractions.





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