Chilliwack Times / Daily News

Malahat Magnificence

It graces the roads with finesse in fine-tuned precision. Offering comfort and luxury hardly matched by any other vehicle, it turns many a head when cruising by. We know it as The Ferrari. Racing car buffs refer to this prestigious and high performance vehicle as The Prancing Horse.

“We wanted to offer our guests a romantic retreat with Ferrari standards,” commented Elaine and Alan Dillabaugh, when revealing how their two-year-old B&B acquired its name. It is obvious the Dillabaughs, with their background in auto body repair, know a lot about Ferraris. And after our stay at The Prancing Horse, it was also obvious that they knew a lot about running a top-notch B&B.

prior to checking in, we checked out one of the hikes at nearby Goldstream Provincial Park, where trails interlace the dense forests. We admired towering cedars, some that were more than five hundred years old, and many that provide a natural habitat for the varied species of owl and eagle today.

Our 30-minute trek upwards led to a historic site, where train trestles straddle the Arbutus Canyon seventy meters above the forest floor. The engines of The Pacific Wilderness Railway have recently been revived after a 60-year rest, and the journey from Victoria to the Malahat Summit is once again offered daily to sightseers.

Unlike our ascent, the scuttle down the train was a breeze, and after an informative stop at the park’s nature center; we were off in search of a little pampering for our tired thighs.

Perched at the Malahat’s summit, and majestically sequestered behind its white picketed fence, our red-roofed gothic-Victorian destination beckoned a welcome with a view that only soaring eagles usually enjoy.

From high above Finlayson Arm, we marveled at the uninterrupted vista that stretched over the unfurling mountains beyond to the snowcapped Olympic peaks in the distance.

The property of this B&B is picturesque to a fault. Gnarled arbutus and rock-hugging firs provide a backdrop to the colourful gardens where a terraced rockery leads to multi-tiered decks hosting an inviting hot tub and a gazebo. We wandered to this tranquil viewpoint and within meters watched a fawn meander through underbrush and jackrabbits scurry to their burrows.

Hummingbirds, blue jays, doves, quail, and yes, even eagles, were other entertainers while we sat center-stage at this nature-lover’s lookout.

Enchantment flowed to our room’s interior, where pampering amenities promised a romantic stay.

Battenburg lace draped softly over our sleigh bed, a bottle of bubbly from our bar fridge waited to be shared after our Jacuzzi’s massage, and long-stemmed roses were an elegant final touch.

We were aware of the extra attention to detail that the Dillabaughs had so graciously provided-right down to the decadent Prancing Horse-shaped chocolate treat.

Like the other two rooms were on the ground floor, our private patio, docked with comfy chairs and boasting that awe-inspiring view, was a favorite reading and writing spot for the following day.

For a real treat, we highly recommend ascending to the second floor via the turreted oak spiral staircase, where stained glass panes cast shadows onto sunshine yellow walls.

Here you will find two spacious luxury suites, complete with fireplaces, oversized window-view whirlpool tubs, and embracing decks to catch the vistas. Dividing the two is a formal dining room where we enjoyed exquisite full gourmet breakfasts topped off with champagne and freshly-squeezed orange juice.

Sharing this same picturesque setting is the world-renowned Aerie Resort, where, thanks to their neighborly hospitality, Prancing Horse guests are permitted to utilize the resort’s spa and pool pamperings as their please.

We meandered through the Aerie’s palatial gardens, challenged each-other to a playful game of garden chess and then checked out the tennis court. Even the heli-pad is available for guests with time restrictions. And for a special occasion, try a dining experience at the Aerie. You won’t forget it!

Other activities are plentiful without venturing too far afield. For those who like the brew, seven kilometers down the road in the town of Mill Bay, Merridale Estate Cidery provides opportunities to sip a sample of cider. Made from several apple varieties, this one-of-a-kind estate cidery in BC offers a taste for every palate.

If wine is more your thing, Cherry Point Vineyards is in the same vicinity.

As we packed up the car and prepared to depart, we reflected on our stay at this great getaway.

Grace, polish and luxury were the exquisite qualities that came to mind-much like the highly precisioned ’86 Ferrari Testarossa that resided in The Prancing Horse B&B garage.

Approximately 20 minutes north of Victoria on Trans Canada Highway #1. Left at Spectacle Lake Provincial Park exit and follow the signs.

573 Ebadora Lane P.O. Box 11 Malahat, Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada, V0R 2L0 . Phone: (250) 743-9378