All of this talk about royal babies has my mind on our recent ‘royal getaway‘ to Dalvay by the Sea in Dalvay, PEI. Please don’t judge, but I am a bit of a royal watcher. I’m a sucker for things with tradition, glamour, and history. Plus, I love a good fascinator.
So when we were invited to tour Dalvay by the Sea, I was beyond excited. After all, the place was the main stop on the Prince and Princesses royal tour of the Island in July 2011. As it turns out, the resort has a long history of hosting glamorous events.
Dalvay By The Sea was built in 1895 by a Scottish American oil tycoon Alexander Macdonald, after his wife fell in love with the property. The pair were known for hosting lavish summer parties on the extensive Dalvay property. Susan, one of the staff at Dalvay, told me that one of the reasons for the many rooms at Dalvay was because every summer word of the parties grew and more people wanted to come for a visit.
Macdonald died in 1910, leaving the property to his granddaughters. But their father, who had control of their fortune until they came of age, gambled away their 15 million dollar inheritance. They were in such bad shape that the property was sold for the cost of the taxes, less than $500!
Dalvay changed hands a few times before being sold to the government of Canada in 1938. Today, it is a National Historic Site.
The property was renovated in the mid 90’s, with owners adding cottages to the existing 25 guest rooms. The resort stays true to its grand, historic roots, with rooms furnished in period antiques, large fireplaces in the common areas and daily afternoon tea. Dalvay is meant to be a place to unwind and unplug, so you won’t find any TV’s in the main building (although the cottages do have screens).
With so many outdoor activities, quiet sitting areas, roaring fireplaces, Muskoka chairs and hidden verandas, you won’t miss the tech one bit. We made the rare decision to do very little during our three night stay that involved leaving Dalvay, opting to roam the trails, cuddle by the fireplace, play on the beach, work in the waterside Muskoka chairs and ride a mystery bike found and restored by the Dalvay staff.
Dalvay by the Sea is situated on 120 acres of land. Within that area is a large red sand beach, lake, and wooded hiking trails. To help guests take advantage of the natural surroundings, they provide free canoe and kayak rentals. They also have a fleet of bikes which can be rented for a small fee.
We spent most of our outdoor time on the trails and the beach. There are two different trails. One is a natural grass trail that winds more than 5 km through densely covered woods. The second (my favourite), is a man-made boardwalk atop a beautiful stretch of marsh. There is a small look-off a few feet onto the trail perfect for bird watching or a picnic. At the end of this trail there is also a look-off. We saw bunnies, and while Charlie sensed foxes, we didn’t encounter any.
Dining at Dalvay:
As mentioned, Dalvay by the Sea has a long tradition of hosting royalty and glamorous parties, and while the dining room is fit for a queen, it is far from stuffy. The tables are set with large, plush, highback chairs and each table has fresh flowers.
The dining area is located in a half circle shaped extension on one side of the house with large windows that wrap the whole way around allowing lots of natural light. Between the natural light, soft pastel colours, light chocolaty brown chairs and flute instrumentals of Till There Was You I easily could have curled up in my overstuffed chair for the afternoon.
The menu has a mix of seafood, healthy salads and unique desserts, including an original dessert called Sticky Date Pudding. I ordered a strawberry tea and the ‘Afterschool Snack’, a roasted and sliced apple drizzled with a light caramel cream and served with a rich aged piece of cheese.
Drew went with the ‘Coffee and Doughnut’, which consisted of two of the largest house-made doughnuts I have ever seen. He also couldn’t resist trying a small bite of the sticky date pudding, a light, airy cake with small chopped dates.
We also tried Dalvay’s chowder, the first bowl we have had since our 30-bowl Taste of Nova Scotia Chowder Trail adventures. It was a welcome return, with a rich, thick base, big pieces of fish, clams and scallops.
Dining at Dalvay is not just for guests. Each day during the summer they get many locals and visitors in to have tea with dessert. They even have a number of regulars who have made it a family tradition, dressing up and visiting once a week for a little escape.
Cottages at Dalvay By The Sea:
Drew loved our little cottage so much he was making plans to move in just a few minutes after walking through the door, saying things like, “We could just add a little kitchenette here, open up that wall a little there…”.
And while they call them cottages, they are more of a chalet, with a big, open loft for the master bedroom, light wood beams, a cozy fireplace, and bright, clean bathrooms with Philosophy bath products. We stayed in two different cottages during our stay, one with three rooms and one bath, and the other with three rooms and two baths. The cottages are dog friendly, and Charlie loved having lots of space to run around in.
There was a small wedding during our stay, and the bride was decked out in a Kate Middleton inspired dress. I couldn’t resist sneaking a peek at their waterfront nuptials, or feeling a little wedding envy (although I did so love our little local wedding). Dalvay has always been a popular spot to tie the knot. Many years ago, the property restricted weddings to one or two a year resulting in waiting lists of more than 5 years!
I could have spent the week at Dalvay. It was such a great spot to relax and write, something we find is surprisingly difficult to come across when working on the road. I loved having trails, bikes and canoes rather than a gym, the ocean and lake rather than a pool, and a large wrap around deck or cozy fireplace rather than a television.
Dalvay makes it so easy to do the things you should do on vacation – relax, breath, take a nap, read a book, reconnect with nature, and have the peace, quiet and space to reconnect with family, friends or lovers.
Dalvay By The Sea
6 Cottage Crescent
Dalvay by the Sea, PE
Season: May – September
Note: As you can probably tell from our bio, title, and blog content, we are fierce supporters of the maritime provinces. We love our little corner of the world dearly, and we want to show you as many amazing things to see and do here as we can. Dalvay invited us to tour their property and after looking into it we thought they would be a great fit for our content as a locally owned resort with a lot of history. They covered the cost of our cottage and our lunch, a huge help in enabling us to continue providing posts on amazing places close to home. The opinions in this post are our own.
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