Escaping the city for the serenity of a Gulf Island getaway is a true rite of passage for any Vancouverite. There’s something about the stillness, the views, and the farm stands that act as necessary reset to the chaos of city life. And Salt Spring Island’s Salty Pear—a quaint bed and breakfast, gallery space, and farm, tucked just a short jaunt away from Ganges village, and short drive from the Long Harbour ferry terminal—is the perfect place to restore that balance.
As you pull up Rainbow Road, a beautiful blue farmhouse sitting at the tip of the Salty Pear property welcomes you. As do co-owners Annika and Jorge Siemsen, and Oskar, their fluffy chocolate brown Portuguese Water Dog. The Siemsen’s are warm, generous hosts, with deep roots in design and art, and a newfound love of Gulf Island hospitality.
“When we met in Mexico in 2010, I was thinking of starting a bed and breakfast and an art gallery,” explains Annika, who was working as a writer and script supervisor in the film industry. “Six years later we realized we could make it possible here on Salt Spring.”
Jorge, an architectural designer originally from Brazil, has brought his style to Salty Pear’s notable design.
“We realized we didn’t need an ocean-front property, but a space like this could allow us to have a studio for my work, and the other things we wanted,” he notes. “Annika is in charge of the photography, the colour schemes, the composition; she’s amazing,” he adds. “We became a team, naturally. We want this to be a cohesive village. Each room has its own personality.”
Ths idyllic Salty Pear property houses two accommodation options: The Casita (a rustic, tiny house available for rent during the spring and summer months), and the more modern, Studio Suite. The Studio Suite is tucked behind Jorge’s studio (a space that that doubles as an art gallery, workshop, and event space), sharing sleek concrete floors, high ceilings, and chic, matte black accents on everything from the cabinets to the faucets. Both the Casita and the Studio are beautifully equipped with micro-kitchens and thoughtful treats for the morning, including farm fresh eggs and pour-over coffee from Mount Maxwell Roasters.
But the main event when staying at the Salty Pear is most certainly the cedar-barrel, wood-burning sauna; an Instagrammable delight that seats four, and sits perched on the property’s grassy hill.
“We really do have people come from all over the place. We’ve had guests staying in both the Studio Suite and The Casita that end up getting along really well, and spending their holiday together and forming a really cool bond,” Annika notes. “And we’ve also had guests that we form a bond with, and we end up building campfires and touring them around the island during their stay. It’s really, for me, about the community.”
When visiting Salt Spring, there’s an abundance of spots to hit: indulge in a cider tasting at Salt Spring Wild Cider House; grab some organic veggies for dinner from Earth Candy (a wonderful recommendation from Annika); take a drive (or hike) up the steep, rocky terrain of Mount Maxwell; or stop at Francis Bread for naturally leavened, organic, wood-fired bread.
At night, whether you opt for an evening sauna, build a fire, or simply keep cozy in your accommodation, you’ll hear a choir of frogs punctuating the Salty Pear air, their sweet sound reminding you that you’re really not in Vancouver anymore.
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