Oceanfront Accommodations near Victoria, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada
Orveas Bay Oceanfront Cottages
About Orveas Bay Oceanfront Cottages and your hosts Ron & June Williams
Dear Guests ...
With the New Year we will have been living here at Orveas Bay for 28 years. It is amazing how quickly the years have gone by with not a lot changing over that time. We still rent the 2 cottages and we live in the Beach House now. The gardening, repairs and general maintenance keeps us busy when were are here. Our housekeepers. Rosemary and Inge are still with us and basically let us know what needs to be done!
In the past years we have started each season with a letter with news about our life and any new happenings here at Orveas Bay. This year because of a number of changes in the spring we decided to wait until fall to post some thoughts.
The greatest personal change was that after gradually losing my hearing over a number of years I had a cochlear implant in Nov 2017 with the sound processor turned on Dec 4th. Truly amazing to experience instant, fully restored hearing! This miracle has completely changed our lives. There are not enough words of gratitude to express my thanks to the Dept. of Audiology at St Paul's Hospital particularly Dr. Brian Westerberg, Dr. Jane Lea and my Audiologist (and new friend ) Grace Chueng. All of the staff are friendly, supportive and take a personal interest in each patient. If you have lost your hearing and have the opportunity to have this procedure it truly can change your life too.
We spent Christmas Holidays with family in Indian Wells, California and had the opportunity to just sit, recuperate and enjoy being with the family. Brad and Hope very kindly offered their cozy casita for much needed recovery and rest. Always fun to have everyone in the family together and a minor miracle to have the family all in one place at the same time! In June we had a wonderful family gathering in Greece touring Athens and the islands; staying at Mykonos in a lovely villa overlooking the sea, Brad organized a week filled with fun and adventure; cruising the seas in a yacht, barbecued lamb on a spit, sightseeing the country side, meals prepared and served by the staff at the villa and celebrating my Birthday with Greek Band and Dancers Opa!
We decided to stay close to home after California as I had several follow-up appointments at St Paul's and do some renovations during this quite time. Perhaps it was wishful thinking on my part to think we could complete the project in a couple of months. As I write this there is still "work in progress" happening.
We did major renovations in the Beach House and although it is a bit roomy for 2 people we are enjoying the space and the great views. We spent a lot of our time on the deck this spring, summer and late fall as the weather was amazing, Each day hot and sunny with no rain for weeks. The lawns turned to sand and the flowers that were not munched by deer wilted in the heat. The guests loved it! We did not have as much smoke from the numerous forest fires burning in BC as in other parts of the area. The westerlies blew the smoke away from our shoreline to the areas in the west. It did block the mountain views for a few weeks but as someone reminded me "We didn't have to evacuate nor did we have our home burned to the ground" Point well taken.
On a lighter note. When were in Edmonton in the summer the city was shrouded in smoke .. just told the complaining folks to inhale .. it was just good BC Bud! Some Edmontonions do Not have a good sense of humour!
We spent a few days in Edmonton as we do each year visiting family and friends. Ron's mom is in her 90's and she was well enough to take the drive to Ponoka for an afternoon visiting with all of the family including Ron's Brother Perry who came from Panama. It is fun for Ron to visit with all of his brothers bad mouthing each other on the tennis courts!
And so the happenings at Orveas Bay!
As I write this at the end of Nov. we have had the busiest year to date. It seems that as last year the majority of our guests are Canadian. With more and more coming during the fall and winter months. In other parts of Canada when it is covered with snow and below zero weather we are enjoying mild climates with little to no snow. We have guests who say we just wanted to see green grass and commenting that when they disembarked from the plane in Victoria there were tubs of flowers in bloom.
We are seeing an increase in American visitors and why not with the strong American dollar and the general unrest in the US these days.
When we first started Orveas Bay rentals we had our own web site and placed our listing on VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) paying a yearly fee to be listed on their web page and having guests reserving personally thru us. Easy, with close contact with each guest creating a real "hands on service" With the creation of Airbnb when a couple of guys did not have enough funds to cover their rent decided to rent out an air mattress to generate some revenue. Who would have thought it would materialize into a muli billion dollar enterprise! Go figure. This concept changed the way all of the former advertising sites became booking agencies. The 3 major booking agencies being Airbnb, VRBO and Trip Advisor (yes,Trip Advisor is a booking agency) all are American owned with some choosing to bank off-shore. To place your vacation rental on these sites means they take the reservation for your listing on their site. They bill the renting guest the deposits and rental fees when taking the reservation and hold the funds until the guest has completed their stay. The rental home is then paid their portion of the funds minus the booking fees and deductions In other words; these sites are basically Travel Agents using private homes and apartments etc. for their rental facilities.
There have been several problems that have occurred from this arrangement.
From the owners stand point after 18 years to give great service you need to have a direct contact with the guest? That includes the email address, phone numbers for home and cell. When you are located in a remote area such as ours we need to be able to contact the visitors to confirm arrival information etc. We try to contact each guest and ask for an email address so we can send info re access, map and directions .The booking Agency will often block out this contact information for the reserving guest as they do not want direct contact.
We prefer to have guests reserve directly to us thru our "on-line reservation form" on our web site at Orveasbay.com - click on Reservation fill in the form and we will process the reservation and confirm back.
Our biggest problem has been collecting the GST (Good and Service tax) from the Booking sites (Online Travel Agents) Airbnb, VRBO and Trip Advisor in order for us to submit to the Government each quarter. We have always collected and paid GST since we began operation. This has caused numerous problems because there are many rentals that are not paying the GST. The Tax Dept. In several area are now taking measures to collect back taxes and in some cases no longer allowing short term rentals. There have been several articles in the paper about this issue and some talk about auditing rental properties for not paying this tax, I have written to Airbnb about this issue and the problems we have encountered. Guest's complaints are generally that they have not paid GST at other Airbnb rentals. The chances are that they are not operating legally.
As of Oct 1. 2018 Airbnb began collecting the Goods and Service Tax on behalf of the Canadian rentals and remitting it to the tax Dept., Prior to this service we had guests pay GST when here. We had 3 guests complain and each wrote poor reviews as they did not feel they had to pay the tax. One was a lawyer from Toronto who thought we did not know how Airbnb operated and did not think he should be paying the tax. Rather a strange comment after we had more than 60 bookings and all but 3 knew about the tax! VRBO and Trip Advisor still leave the collection of the GST to the rental property but remind the operator they must pay this tax. We now leave a copy of the Tax Departments requirements for GST tax collection on the table for those guests who question paying this tax.
We have made a few changes to the rates and the min number of nights. On long weekends we request a min 3 night stay and a 2 night deposit. Again, we prefer direct reservations thru our web page at Orveasbay.com for Better communication between us and our guests Please see our Rates page for more information thanks.
This year we have a black bear wandering thru the property on a regular basis, His mother booted him out a couple of years ago and he spends his time eating berries and insects that are in the kelp and seaweed along the shore. We have been careful to not leave garbage or recycling around that he can get into. Guests are reminded to not leave food on the decks or in their cars that might attract him. Also, when hiking to the beach to make lots of noise as bears do not have great sight but great hearing.
Whales. Guests have told us that they have seen the Orcas go by but we have only seen them once this year. We have spotted a couple of grey whales as well. It has been strange to not see the numerous little fishing boats out front trolling for salmon this summer. The moratorium to ban fishing is an effort to try to save the salmon food source for the resident pod of Orcas. We have lost 3 this summer, one, a very sad story with the mother keeping her new born afloat for over 2 weeks after it had died. Personally I would like to see a limit on the numerous whale boats that pass by here all day every day. It must be stressful and difficult to feed with that many boats continually circling the pod That along with the Naval maneuvers, bullets strafing the water and loud underwater booms. Tankers and freighters, cruise ships all travelling the shipping lane in front. All add to the pollution creating a most unhealthy environment for these starving creatures, Our resident pod is dwindling away year after year.
Our lovely eagle pair had a new member to the family this summer. He or she has not grown white feathers but sits proudly on the highest peak on the tall cedar overlooking the sea. Guests enjoy watching these stately birds soar over the ocean along with the little humming birds that flit from flower to flower in the pots on the deck. Just a great way to bird watch while swaying in the hammock.
The hot summer days with no rain caused the streams to dry up and delayed the salmon spawn this fall causing the salmon to wait for rain at the mouths of the creeks and streams. When it did start to rain it rained for days on end! Happy Salmon, Happy Eagles and one very Happy Bear!
So Thank You Dear Guests for all of your kindness and support over these 18 years and for taking the time to read my ramblings It is always our pleasure to have so many returning guests and to have so many new guests that have been referred by you. Our guest books numbering over 20 are filled with what you experienced here on the west coast and your time spent in the cottages …and in the hot tubs too! Some of you travelled here from faraway lands while others came from as close as Sooke!
Our little Shirley area continues to be a happening place with the Sunday markets offering organic fruits and veggies, crafts and wonderful baked goods. There are now organic farms where you can place your order and pick up each week.. 3 or 4 road side fresh farm egg stands, and of course the happenings at Shirley Delicious just up the hill ... Guests rave about the great food. Hospitality, great energy while being entertained by Phillip who has been known to break into song.. singing opera but not all that well! They are open from 8 til 5 so perfect for guests that do not want to prepare breakfast in their cottage. They have become so popular and well known that we now use Shirley Delicious as a landmark to turn off West Coast road on the way to us.
We are also hearing good things of a new pizza spot just a few minutes from us .. Stoked Pizza has been given a thumbs up by our guests. We recommend a leisurely stroll along close by French Beach and picking up your pizza on the way home. Dine on the deck overlooking the ocean.
Sheringham brewery was located on Sheringham Point road has now relocated to a Sooke location and is now part of the new micro breweries in Sooke. All have received numerous awards for their products with Sooke Brewing Company winning an award for the finest tasting room .. We often drop in and enjoy the ambiance with a pint or 2..
We have 4 pot shops, actually one has closed pending licencing but the other 3 seem to be picking up the slack..
All of the restaurants in Sooke are busy along with the pizza takeaways and fast food outlets. We have a list of Places to Eat and Drink on our web site and try to keep it up to date.
Some guests arrive with a list of all the trails of all of beach hikes in the area. They are up at dawn and gone until sunset. All have stories to tell of what they have experienced each day. Others came or left via the Pacific Marine Circle Route that causes some apprehension for those visitors who have never left Los Angeles or New York City. This route is a true West Coast adventure and we do not recommend driving it at night!
Some guests spent hours sitting on the deck, swaying in the hammock and maybe venturing down to the beach for an afternoon.
All seem to end the day soaking in the hot tub according to the notes we read in the guest's books. Ahhh.. and why not!
Point no Point continues to provide gourmet dinners and great lunches in their lovely dining room overlooking the sea. Just a great place for our guests as it a short drive from Orveas Bay.
We look forward to 2019 and will continue to be in operation as the season changes doesn't seem to have much effect on the number of guests who wish to visit this area.
In closing, there has not been any improvement on the dissention and unrest in the US since my last year's ramblings; We Canadians have a reputation of complacency and a "laid back" way of life. This is very obvious when looking at the number of eligible voters and the number of voters who vote. There is a dismal amount of people who take the rights and freedoms of our country for granted. Easy to say "that situation would never happen to us"… well it could. I believe the young people today are becoming more aware of human rights, to ending bullying, racism, sexism, and the need to pay attention to the happenings in the world. So refreshing to hear and see a new generation taking a stand for equality.
Just stepped off of my soap box and to thank you again for taking the time to read this. Wishing you all a Happy Holiday Season filled with love, laughter and the joy of family and friends.
Soak in the hot tub under the stars
Enjoy a glass of wine BEFORE Happy Hour!
Do a Cheese Cake "take away" from Shirley Delicious and share with your date!
Cuddle up in bed and watch an old movie..
Sway the day away in the hammock watching for whales
Read a book or write a book the setting will stimulate you!
Take the stairs down to the seashore and watch nature unfolding .. become a part of the seclusion and quietness.
And most importantly enjoy your time away from the everyday stresses of life. Relax, unwind and let the world go by.