August 22, 2018
To begin with, the Swept Away Inn is in my hometown of Port Alberni BC and I couldn’t resist sitting down with owners Dan and Bouchra Savard to hear more about their business that hosts 3,000 guests from all over the world every summer.
Docked at the Centennial Pier at the Harbour Quay, the tug offers both meals and overnight stays.
Just when I was there, groups of B&B guests arrived from England, Spain and Germany! I talked to a few of them, and they wanted a fun ‘Canadian west coast place to stay”.
In the four years it’s been open, word has gotten out – several celebrities have come to eat and stay. When pressed for more details, Daniel just said “There’s been some big names you would recognize”. Hmmm.
The MV Songhee is a 1944 ‘Deep Sea Mother Ship’ Tug Boat, from Haida Gwaii, that Dan found online. Then living in Peterborough Ontario, Dan & Bouchra had dreams of living on the west coast and spent 5 years searching for the right boat– all rooms had to be above the deck line and have port holes for fresh air. This former outpost fishing lodge has been heavily renovated and now offers 8 rooms and 6 bathrooms (one with a porthole in the shower!)
B&B Season is May-Dec and dinners continue to be available by reservation during the off season.
I’ve mentioned before that the tug welcomes 3,000 guests every summer. I assure you that for a small town, this is a bustling business. My jaw dropped when Dan rattled off the rest of their stats:
It’s SO interesting to me that this very same tugboat that I used to walk past on a regular basis has become a destination for tourists from all over the globe.
Let me tell you, I am not a good cook. But I DO love to eat. I have always admired Dan and Bouchra’s passion for lovingly made and labour intensive dishes that are completely delicious and unique. This cuisine is part of the Slow Food Movement and each ingredient is carefully curated and the menus expertly planned.
When I was there, we had the traditional Moroccan Bastilla, which Bouchra called “The Delicacy of Morocco”. It’s a crispy filo pastry pie with three layers of egg, organic chicken from a local farm, and roasted almonds soaked in rose water. It takes all day to make. The combination of saffron and cinnamon makes a fragrant feast for the senses.
This meal was topped off with: salad with organic chickpeas, local tomatoes, Moroccan olive oil, lemon juice and Moroccan sun dried olives; charbroiled local zucchini and then M’Smen bread stuffed with roasted walnuts and Moroccan Mint Tea.
I’m no food blogger, but after this experience, I think I need to become one! The flavours were absolutely spectacular and like none other I’ve ever tasted.
It seems like hip coffee shops, restaurants and breweries are jumping on the age-old European practice of communal dining. We often choose to sit at group tables, and revel in meeting new, interesting people. The Swept Away Inn offers a chance to break bread together with other dinner and overnight guests, in a family-dinner atmosphere. There’s always lively Moroccan music playing to set the tone, and I’m told that the guests’ cultures makes for an entertaining evenings with frequent breakouts into song out on the deck. This sounds like SO MUCH FUN. Sign me up!
I mean… how COOL is that? I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly neat to eat on a boat… and really can’t wait to bring my hubby back to Port Alberni so we can spend a night on the boat! It’s something special, and authentically west coast!
I used to be part of a team who created The Heart of Vancouver Island social media for the City of Port Alberni, and built a facebook page with over 20,000 likes.
Mentored by Ben West, our team actually created the very same website that Swept Away Inn uses today and developed a project with Telus Optik (now known as Storyhive) to capture compelling stories of locals as the community of Port Alberni evolves from its former glory as a booming mill town.
We chose Swept Away Inn for this feature as it symbolized the reinvention of something from industrial practicality to creativity & tourism. Even though it’s now a few years old, this film beautifully and honestly captures their story – and the story of Port Alberni.
(And yup, that’s my misspelled name in the film credits).
Despite the fact that this is a sponsored post, as always, all opinions are my own.