Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Staff Profile: Farewell to Davina, BIA Cleaning Professional Extraordinaire!

When we've had a staff member for three years, and know and value their work as we do Davina's, it's difficult to say goodbye. But nothing lasts forever and Davina is retiring from cleaning in order to make time for her growing proofreading business, and in that we wish her all the best. Find out more about her business here: www.shadesofcrimson.com Luckily, she's still available in a cleaning emergency, and that's great to know, especially in the high season when we need all the help we can get.

Indeed it makes sense that this is her path, as we've seen her fine attention to detail in all the properties and how it translates into beautiful spaces and contented guests. Before she left this fall, we asked for an interview, to share her Bowen Island story with you all... and Davina was happy to oblige.


BIA: When and why did you move to Bowen? Where did you move from?
Davina: I moved to Bowen the end of November, 2011, from Kitsilano to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. I fell in love with Bowen in 2000 and visited frequently. Once I became self-employed, I realized that I could do that from Bowen and not have to commute to the Mainland every day.

BIA: What do you like best about working for BIA / why is it a good fit for you?
Davina: Being in such beautiful places, prepping for the guests, imagining their pleased looks when they first check in for their vacation. It's a good fit for me because I enjoy cleaning, am service-oriented, and particularly enjoy the staging details.

Jan (top) and the team at our summer 2017 potluck, with Davina on the right.

BIA: How would you describe your cleaning style, or cleaning philosophy?
Davina: Cleaning, to me personally, equates to spreading TLC and good energy around a space. I sense each space as a living being and feel compelled to nurture that space. A clean space is empowering to those who spend time in it. An unclean, cluttered space has the opposite effect.

BIA: What do you do, when you’re not working for BIA (other work, fun)?
Davina: When I am not working for BIA, I proofread advertising material for local agencies and edit novels of authors who are referred to me. I spend a lot of time on the trails with Zoe, my teacup Yorkie, and dining in local restaurants. Most of the time, living on Bowen puts me in vacation mode!

BIA: What’s the biggest surprise a guest has left for you (good, bad, totally weird…)?
Davina: The biggest surprise a guest has left me is a $20 tip.

BIA: Which BIA property would you most like to stay in, and why?
Davina: I have stayed in the Eastman Cottage twice. I love the remote location and the expansive view of the water and Hutt Island. I love the cozy cottage feel of this location.

BIA: What’s your favourite thing about Bowen Island? Least favourite thing?
Davina: My favourite thing about Bowen Island is the close access to trails, beaches, the close-knit community, the silence, and lack of streetlights at night. My least favourite thing is running for the ferry and rushing around during shopping trips to the Mainland to ensure catching the ferry back home at a suitable time.

BIA: What’s your favourite Bowen Island event?
Davina: My favourite Bowen Island events are the Bowen Island Community Choir Christmas and spring concerts; I sing in the choir and it's a wonderful experience connecting with fellow choristers and enjoying the buildup during the week leading up to the concert and of course, being up on stage singing to a wonderful audience.

BIA: What would you hope visitors to Bowen Island could take away from their experience here?
Davina: I would hope that visitors feel pleasantly re-energized after visiting Bowen Island and recognize that this oasis is just a short ferry ride from the Mainland for more relaxation.


Thank you, Davina, for your years with Bowen Island Accommodations, and we wish you success with your home business, Shades of Crimson!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What Wood is Good? Building Safe Indoor Fires

Fire season is coming up once more, and most of our guests will be looking forward to building a cozy fire indoors, a luxury we are allowed on Bowen Island, but is becoming a rarity in most cities as homes and building codes modernize.

Enjoy a romantic fire... safely.

We've shared with you in the past why wood is the price of gold out here, and you can re-read that blog post here: Why Firewood Doesn't Grow On Trees.

What we'd like to emphasize in this post is why it's so important to only burn the proper wood in fireplaces and wood stoves. With the cost of wood being so high, it may be tempting to gather wood from outside, but here's why it's a bad idea for your safety, respiratory health, and for our vacation rental homes more generally.

Gathered wood from the forest is not dry enough.
When we say wood needs to be "seasoned," it means having been stored in a ventilated dry area for about a year, so that the moisture in the wood and sap is mostly gone when we burn it. This is important because trying to burn "green" wood, (wood that's been collected from the forest, or unseasoned firewood, for example), results in excessive smoke, particulates being released, and a fire that's difficult to start and keep lit. Fires made of green wood also do not reach a hot enough temperature, and therefore deposit creosote into chimneys, increasing the potential for a dangerous chimney fire.

Branches and fallen wood are not properly seasoned to burn indoors.

Beach wood/driftwood causes toxic gases.
Burning the salty driftwood that you find on the beach releases carcinogenic gases from the chlorine in the wood. Apart from being a risk to you if you inhale the gases, releasing it into the environment is no good for others who might inhale it as well. On top of the danger, it's possible that the smoke from burning driftwood could corrode some metals found in wood stoves. So please, never collect and burn driftwood.

Leave it on the beach - driftwood is dangerous to burn.

Other things to never burn:

  • Pressure-treated wood
  • Wood pallets
  • Garbage
  • Forest debris

And please remember...
Outdoor burning is never allowed on any of the properties, at any time of year. This is for your safety, the safety of the property, and in respect to neighbours in the area.

What can I burn?
Please, only burn the firewood or long-lasting packaged logs we provide at our properties. If you want to burn more than what we provide, buy dry, seasoned wood or packaged logs meant for indoor burning, available in bundles at mainland gas stations or other reputable stores. While you likely won't find dry log bundles for sale on Bowen, the General Store and Irly Building Centre on Bowen Island sometimes sell compressed logs meant for fireplaces and wood stoves as well.

Note: In addition to providing enough wood* for your evening fire we also have log bundles for sale at the Lazy Bowen Hideaway and Lazy B Waterfront Suite. They are 20.00 (includes tax), counted up and charged to you after your stay.


We appreciate you taking the time to read about indoor fire safety. Our hope is that you enjoy safe, warm, and wonderful fires during your stay in the colder season.

After you build your safe fire, you can rest easy and put up your feet!

* Enough wood for an evening fire means 4 logs per night plus kindling and paper.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Interview: Twenty Years Visiting and Loving Bowen Island

We love hearing from guests who choose Bowen Island again and again for their vacation getaways, as we know they love it as much as we do. Every now and then we like to ask them what, specifically, they love about this special place. Robert, who, with his wife, has stayed many times with Bowen Island Accommodations, kindly agreed to answer our questions about their Bowen Island experiences.


BIA: Where is home for you, and why do you choose to vacation on Bowen Island?
Robert: My wife and I live in Port Coquitlam and have visited Bowen Island at least twice per year for close to 20 years. At first we would just do day trips and have dinner in Horseshoe Bay to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Our kids were just young then and we would go usually on a Saturday with our two Basset hounds to walk around the Killarny Lake trail, and also visit Dorman Point. The trails were very pleasant to walk, the meadow area along the Crippen trail has been a favourite spot for us.

BIA: What’s your favourite thing to do here?
Robert: We often bring our inflatable canoe to paddle in Tunstall Bay,  and we usually always include a visit to the Cape Roger Curtis area as well to walk the trails there.

Robert and his wife have been vacationing on Bowen Island for over 20 years

BIA:You’ve stayed many times at the Hollybarry Cottage (a vacation rental until 2016), twice at the Lazy Bowen Hideaway, once at the Lazy B Waterfront Suite, and twice at the Eastman Waterfront Cottage. What have you enjoyed about these places, and do you have a favourite?
Robert: I would have to say our favourite place to stay now is the Eastman Waterfront Cottage. We enjoy the close proximity to the water with all the properties, and we find the people that have homes locally are very pleasant. We have always felt welcome.

For several years we would stay at Hollybarry Cottage during Easter and then at Island Thyme suite on the opposite side of Bowen during the September Long weekend. This was our family tradition. Sadly, Island Thyme suite has new owners, and we have not tried vacationing there under the new owners' term. We were first introduced to the Lazy Bowen Hideaway when the HollyBarry cottage was not available one Easter weekend. We decided to try the Eastman Waterfront Cottage as well, as we were comfortable trying another property managed by Jan as we knew it would be clean and well appointed.

Robert's family swimming the waters around Bowen Island

BIA: What’s your favourite place to eat on Bowen, or do you cook at your residence?
Robert: We do cook most of our meals at the cabin when we stay on the island. We just find it to be more relaxing to stay at home and prepare our own meals and have more family time together. The best views are often at the cottage! We have ordered takeout from a couple of the restaurants on the island and enjoyed the meals at the cottage, taking in the view.

So much to see around Howe Sound

BIA: With many vacation rental offerings here, why do you choose Bowen Island Accommodations?
Robert: We like using Bowen Island Accommodations as Jan has a good support team, she is very prompt with her replies to vacation requests, and we just find the process to be very organized and effortless!

There are trails here for all the family members to enjoy.

BIA: Any recommendations for folks new to vacationing on Bowen Island (preparations, things to do, places to go, what to bring)?
Robert: My recommendation to people wanting to vacation on the island is to bring a variety of clothing to be outside during all types of weather, and make sure to bring a camera. We also bring movies, books and/or games from home that we've always been meaning to use, but don't seem to have time to when we are at home.

Also, we always bring our coffee french press, usually stop for muffins and bring some nice wine. Staying for two nights is a must, but three nights is better!

The ferry service is excellent, we have never had more than a one sailing wait even at the busiest of times! We might have been lucky, but we don't mind waiting as it isn't a very long turnaround for the ferry.


Thank you to Robert for taking the time to answer our questions, and we so appreciate his love of Bowen Island, going back 20 years!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Staff Profile: Anne

Last summer we interviewed Lisa, our newest cleaning professional. This fall we introduce you to Anne, our longest-standing cleaning professional, whose attention to detail and focus on guest experience makes her work with Bowen Island Accommodations so valuable. When you see the cleanliness of our vacation rental homes, it's due to the keen eye of cleaners like Anne -- most of whom, if not all, have been trained by her over the years.

BIA: How long have you been working for Bowen Island Accommodations?
Anne: 5 years

BIA: What do you like best about working for BIA / why is it a good fit for you?
Anne: What I like best: working as part of a team of cleaners; the individuality of each property and the waterfront locations; satisfaction of contributing to making it a clean and inviting place for the next guests. Why is it a good fit for me? After retiring from office work, the part-time work of cleaning vacation rentals keeps me physically active.

BIA: How would you describe your cleaning style, or cleaning philosophy?
Anne: I put myself in the shoes of guests and aim to provide a clean and comfortable environment for their stay.

BIA: What’s the biggest surprise a guest has left for you (good, bad, totally weird…)?
Anne: I have not come across any real surprises, but there is always the suspense before entering the house, whether guests left the place as they found it. Of course, when guests leave a tip for the cleaning staff, that is a pleasant surprise.

Which BIA property would you most like to stay in, and why?
Anne: The Waterfront Suite! I love the closeness to the ocean and the decks.

BIA: When and why did you move to Bowen? Where did you move from?
Anne: 1979 when our son was 4, we moved from a high-rise in Vancouver's West End to our present house, which was a cabin that was raised by one storey and was partially renovated. Bowen appealed to us because of the rural character and being an island. And the house prices were much less than in the city, making it possible for us to own our home. Bowen had the same appeal for us then as it has today for young families; it is a wonderful community for raising children.

Anne (centre) & Jan (top) and the BIA team of professional cleaners

BIA: What do you do, when you’re not working for BIA (other work, fun)?
Anne: I run a small B&B, using the guest room in our house to offer accommodation with breakfast. In my spare time, I like going for walks, I love to swim in the ocean in the summer and ride my bicycle in the city, enjoying the bike routes along the Vancouver waterfront. During the colder months, I don’t spend as much time outside and I knit socks and read.

BIA: What’s your favourite thing about Bowen Island? Least favourite thing?
Anne: Favourite: Beaches, forests, wild berries.
Least favourite: Days of rain and darkness.

BIA: What’s your favourite Bowen Island event?
Anne: Bowfest.

BIA: What would you hope visitors to Bowen Island could take away from their experience here?
Anne: Closeness to nature, serenity and friendly encounters with the community.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Tasty Tour of Bowen Island's Food Offerings

Jan Stevens and her son Akira recently got a chance to go on a Savoury & Sweet Food Tour of Snug Cove, Bowen Island. Always wanting to be able to recommend fun activities to her guests, Jan was happy for this chance to get to know one of the many tours provided by Jody Lorenz, owner/operator of Bowen Island Tours, as well as deepen her knowledge of food offerings on Bowen.

The group met at the Visitor Information Centre at 2pm, a wonderful resource for visitors and locals alike. You can find maps, trail guides, Bowen merchandise and lots of helpful advice in this small cottage off Cardena Road. It was a gorgeous July day for strolling Snug Cove, and the selected restaurants were ready for the group’s arrival. The group was small, including Jan and Akira, a couple, and a freelance food writer.

The Snug Cafe's welcoming entrance sign

The first stop was local establishment The Snug Cafe, where the group sat outside under patio umbrellas sipping iced coffees. Jody served up the Snug’s sausage rolls, steak pies, and brownies, which Akira loved so much he made sure to pick one up later, before leaving Bowen.

Next, they stopped in to Candy in the Cove, the world’s smallest candy store, apparently as confirmed by Google. Owner Jan Chilvers was there to offer samplings of modern and vintage candy. If you take the tour, be prepared for a quiz on what is regarded as the oldest Canadian candy? A hint, it was popular in the 1800s.

Candy in the Cove's interesting candy selection

The next stops were a tour of the Bowen Island Beer & Wine Cellar, and carrot cake samplings at the Ruddy Potato deli. While circling back to the lower part of the Cove, Jody gave the group a tour of the Heritage Cottages in the Crippen Park orchard, featuring a display cottage replicating the swinging steamship days of Bowen’s past, and 100-year-old apple trees. Jan especially liked how, throughout the tour, dimension was added as Jody shared Bowen Island facts and history wherever they went, whether in Crippen Park and the Memorial Gardens, or walking past historic buildings like the cottages and the Library (old general store).

Rustique Bistro's lemonade (with "add Vodka" option)

A Niçoise salad served at Rustique Bistro

Next was French Paté and Niçoise salad, served by Celine Boyer of Rustique Bistro, followed by blueberry cream cheese gourmet toast at Branch & Butter on the pier. Jan was especially thrilled to have gluten-free pie at Lime & Moon Pie Company, also located on the pier. While serving, owner Stani Oben talked about the company’s organic ingredients and philanthropic policies.

Pie on the pier - a tasty offering by Lime & Moon Pie Company

Blueberry toast from Branch and Butter

After a walk through Crippen Park on the north side of the main street, enjoying views out to the lagoon and Howe Sound, the group made their way to a restaurant new to Bowen this winter, Barcelona Tapas & Wine Bar. They enjoyed sangria, and Jan was surprised at how much she liked an octopus dish. “The texture was more like chicken than squid, and the sauce was delicious.” Cocoa West truffles were enjoyed afterwards, for a final dessert.

Barcelona's soon-to-be famous sangria

While they didn’t go to every food-serving establishment in Snug Cove, it was probably a good thing; portions were big enough everywhere that by the end of the 3 hours (well, 3.5, they went overtime), the group was satiated, quite full, in fact. Jan and Akira thought it was a great sampling of what Bowen Island has to offer, and exposed the group to some really tasty dishes they might not think to try on their own. If after 60 years on Bowen Island Jan is impressed with the tour and her newfound knowledge of Snug Cove, our visitors would no doubt find it helpful to get to know the island through Jody's Bowen Island Tours.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Evergreen Cottage: A Multi-generational Dorman Family Dream on Bowen Island

The Evergreen Cottage in Dorman Bay is a much-loved vacation rental today, but few guests know that owner Maureen Armstrong has a family history on Bowen Island spanning four generations, many properties, and one dream — to own a place that would host visitors to the fair isle.

On the deck at the Evergreen Cottage, looking out towards West Vancouver

Her story begins with the birth of her great-grandfather, Jacob Dorman, in Istanbul (then Constantinople) in 1858. Son of an Engineer for the British government, Jacob joined the British army in India, then came to Canada via England in 1885. With his wife Sarah, they had ten children, and of them, Maureen’s grandmother was the third, born in Yale, BC. Ellen Dorman was reported to be the first white person born there.

“My great-grandfather, Jacob Dorman, settled to Bowen Island in 1890. He was a steam engineer by trade and bought a merry-go-round with a calliope that played three tunes, and operated it at the Snug Cove picnic grounds. During the steamship era, Bowen had as many as 5000 people on a summer weekend, coming over on the Lady Alexandra and the Lady Cynthia from Vancouver for the dances and company picnics, and some staying over in the Hotel and the many resort cottages.”

Jacob Dorman with a steam engine.
Photo courtesy Bowen Island Museum & Archives, donated by George Dorman

People enjoying Jacob Dorman’s carousel at Snug Cove picnic grounds.
Photo courtesy Bowen Island Museum & Archives, donated by Art and Margaret Dorman

In 1890 Jacob pre-empted 160 acres of land on Bowen Island, obtained title but then sold it, and obtained land in Snug Cove. He relinquished the land, and then moved back to England in 1895. The Dormans then returned to Vancouver five years later and settled on a land parcel in Dorman Bay as a family in 1905. Jacob’s dream was to build a small hotel on his waterfront property in the bay that now bears his name. Many of Jacob and Sarah’s ancestors are still living in the Dorman Bay area of Bowen Island.

Photograph is of Sarah Dorman and Jacob Dorman at Dorman’s Hill.
Photo courtesy of Bowen Island Museum & Archives, donated by George Dorman

Maureen’s grandmother picked one of the many parcels of land that her father Jacob bought, for her summer cottage, where she could be near the church and the village of Snug Cove. Maureen has fond memories of staying at her grandmother’s cottage in the summer with her parents, Gordon and Ruth Armstrong, enjoying visiting the beach, boating, horseback riding, hiking the trails, and fishing off the dock. Although the property was sold after Ellen’s death, the family’s enjoyment of the island prompted Maureen’s parents to buy a property in Dorman Bay to build their own family cottage, one that was also close to Snug Cove, with beautiful views of Howe Sound in front and five acres of private forest and trails behind.

Water view from the Evergreen Cottage dining table.

“My own children have been coming here all their lives and now my grandchildren enjoy coming to Bowen, now making us five generations of Dormans loving it here,” says Maureen.

“When I retired from our family business in Vancouver, I moved to Bowen and bought the property now called Evergreen Hall Guest House in Deep Bay, also known as Mannion Bay.” Maureen relates that it was built by the Union Steamship Company in the early nineteen forties, as a recreation hall for the guests staying across the road at the Evergreen Park Resort, (also known as the Mannion Bay Resort), which burned down in 1960. The Evergreen Hall, located just across the road from the resort, was bought by a Vancouver entrepreneur who wanted to turn the property into a retreat for city business people. He soon abandoned the idea and the property was bought and restored into a large family home before Maureen purchased it.

Maureen Armstrong toasting to a Bowen summer.

“I have been operating the Evergreen Hall Guest House since 2007 and have enjoyed living here as a full time resident of Bowen Island,” says Maureen. Although her great-grandfather never realized his dream of building a hotel in Dorman Bay, Maureen’s loyal guests can attest that her Evergreen Cottage and Evergreen Hall Guest House are as good a realization of that dream, allowing many to enjoy the island and community that Maureen’s family has loved and helped build over the generations.

Find more information and book the Evergreen Cottage by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Staff Profile: Lisa, Our Newest Cleaning Professional at Bowen Island Accommodations

We love the work our cleaners do for Bowen Island Accommodations. They are the backbone of our business, making sure our properties are in the best shape possible for our guests to enjoy while on vacation. We've had guests refer specifically to the cleanliness of our properties as the reason why they booked with Bowen Island Accommodations.

So at a recent staff dinner chez Jan Stevens, we discussed a blog entry idea: we thought it might interest guests to put faces and names to the hard-working cleaners, whose work we enjoy.

Jan Stevens (top) and the gang of Bowen Island Accommodations cleaning professionals

Our first Staff Profile is of Lisa, who has recently joined Bowen Island Accommodations this spring, 2017. We are grateful to have her on board!

BIA: How long have you been working for Bowen Island Accommodations?

Lisa: About 3 months

BIA: When and why did you move to Bowen?

Lisa: I’ve been on Bowen 10 years. I moved here because it’s a great environment for my kids.

BIA: What do you like best about working for BIA / why is it a good fit for you?

Lisa: The accommodations are lovely, clean and bright.. along with the fantastic views, they are great places to spend a few hours! The job is a good fit because of its flexibility.

BIA: What do you do, when you’re not working for BIA (other work, fun)?

Lisa: I run Bowen Island Herb Salts, which involves growing a large selection of herbs in my Bowen Island garden, processing and putting the herbs into different Mediterranean sea salt recipes that I then package in glass salt grinders. We then market the grinders both on and off island.

BIA: What’s the biggest surprise a guest has left for you (good, bad, totally weird…)?

Lisa: A great tip :)

BIA: Which BIA property would you most like to stay in, and why?

Lisa: That is hard to choose.. they are all great.

BIA: What’s your favourite thing about Bowen Island? Least favourite thing?

Lisa: My favourite thing about Bowen Island is the quiet and natural environment. My least favourite is the ferry.

BIA: What’s your favourite Bowen Island event?

Lisa: Bowfest.

Awaiting the floats at BowFest

Black Sheep Morris Dancers at BowFest

BIA: What would you hope visitors to Bowen Island could take away from their experience here?

Lisa: An appreciation of the natural environment on and around Bowen Island.

Thanks, Lisa, for taking our interview, and we look forward to trying Bowen Island Herb Salts