If you were living in the Northwest back in the late 80′s, 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. You get to the resort by taking I-5 north and then veering off the interstate just a few miles south of Blaine, where the road takes you through the golf course and out to a narrow spit with water on three sides.
Those visitors who may have been disappointed with a visit in the last couple years or so will be pleasantly surprised with the new owners’ 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 didn’t know the resort had been through some financial upheaval, you probably wouldn’t notice any real issues- the new owners have already put great emphasis on the aforementioned service with staff attentive as they could be during our stay. Guests dine at Packers Restaurant and, rest assured, guests are raving about the food. Our meals at the restaurant were delightful and the conversation in the elevators seemed to revolve around guests’ ravings about the food (the halibut seems to come up very often in these impromptu discussions).
A resort more than two decades old will always have a few little things that seem dated, so we’re sure anyone who frequents the resorts built within the past few years will find differences. But if you don’t mind a bathroom faucet not being the absolute latest, or a room design not quite measuring up to your current copy of Architectural Digest, the aging issues are pretty few and far between. 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 you needn’t worry about sinking. Everywhere you look is water — the bay, the sea and a passageway where luxurious yachts make 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 Restaurant 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’ll 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 one of the state’s top birding destinations. 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. We thoroughly enjoyed our room, which was well-appointed and spacious and included numerous amenities. 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 Washington state’s best 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 isn’t exactly chopped liver.