A recent return to a Northwest favorite — Alderbrook Resort & Spa — reminded us that Mother Nature is forever busy working her magic in on our own backyard. This property, located less than two hours from Seattle, offers a chorus of joy; a frog symphony performs in the evenings, collaborating birds warm up their vocals each morning before the mist has fully rolled off the glassy water.
In this oasis perched on the edge of the Hood Canal, we were very lucky to hop on the last guided Oyster 101 walk of the season. (The property is working on developing a self-guided tour though; stay tuned!)
While strolling around at low tide, it was a joy to listen to Cindy Sund, director of marine services, talk about growing up on this region’s oyster beaches. A self-described “oyster snob,” having owned her own boutique oyster company that sold to popular Seattle restaurants, she believes that the best time to harvest on the Hood Canal is from the beginning of March through May (and perhaps into June, if it’s been a cool season).
Sund describes the Alderbrook oysters — which can be enjoyed in the property’s restaurant — as having a little more salinity than some. (We sampled a few, and they were delicious.) She explained that you can always distinguish a beach-grown oyster, since it appears a bit more rugged and barnacle-covered.
On our hour-long tour, we learned fascinating tidbits about moon slugs (and the amazing, perfectly symmetrical sand collars they create!) plus otherworldly sea stars, that are thankfully making a gradual return to the region after a mysterious couple-year absence. Cindy’s one request to all guests: “Respect all life,” and try not to touch the nature you’re lucky enough to witness while visiting.
Alderbrook taps into its stunning surroundings and edible landscape with a “woodland to waterfront-inspired menu” at the on-site restaurant. (Note: The hotel’s COVID-appropriate protocols make for a safe and comfortable visit.)
While take-out brunch by a waterside fire pit was a personal highlight, also be sure not to miss dinnertime delights like the Grand Marnier Prawns, Seared Halibut or Grilled Chicken Breast with asparagus, nettle compound butter and olive oil-roasted garlic mashed potatoes.
For a true treat, sign up with a group to enjoy The Gathering Grove, an outdoor dining experience that lets guests see how the property’s team forages local ingredients. Enjoy a walk through private, forested trails; afterward, savor an alfresco meal in an unforgettable setting. A few minutes away, find more culinary options at Union City Market (the resort’s working marina), which hosts interactive beachside feasts called Canal Cookouts featuring rotating themes along with ‘Appy Hour and weekend brunch.
The resort’s amenities range from a dreamy, saltwater (indoor) pool with mountain views to dog-friendly packages. Also keep an eye out for upcoming events like Full Moon Yoga (May 26th, June 24th, July 24th, August 22nd, etc.). However you choose to spend your time at Alderbrook, we guarantee it’ll leave you craving another return trip soon!
Note: The main lobby is current undergoing a refresh, which the team hopes will be completed by late June.