If there’s a silver lining to distance learning, it’s that you can do it anywhere. So why not do it at Alderbrook Resort & Spa, on the shores of the Hood Canal with the Olympics looming in the background? Pack your laptop, books and peace of mind, it’s time plan a work-from-home vacation in a peaceful PNW setting.
1. Working beachside is hard to beat.
Strong Wi-Fi signal and a beach to boot? Count us in! Whether you’re logging on from the comfort of your guest room, the front porch of your cottage or a beachside Adirondack chair, it’s easy to attend class in this peaceful setting. Not only will you find a strong Wi-Fi signal throughout the property (and let’s face it, that’s a must when it comes to e-learning), but you can almost surely find a quiet spot, too. Plus, if you need to buckle down, families can reserve complimentary time in a boardroom that’s totally distraction free.
2. The pool is open!
Is it us or does pool playtime seem especially luxurious these days? Because Mason County is in Phase 3, the pool at Alderbrook is open for swimming. No matter what the weather, your little fishies can wear themselves out at the indoor, heated, saltwater pool. Parents, feel free to join them, or take a dip in the oversized hot tub or a breather on the sidelines at a socially distanced table. Reservations are required to swim (pool occupancy is limited), but getting one is as easy as walking down to the pool and putting your name on the white board. The pool is open Sundays through Thursdays, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m.
3. Resort “recess” rocks.
Who needs Zoom P.E. when you’ve got miles of trails to explore and complimentary daily activities focused on being outside? When it’s time for a brain break, cross the street and hike through the forest for a change of scenery. If short and sweet is what you’re after, the .5-mile Viewpoint or Big Tree loop trails are the easy choices. Try the Huckleberry Hillclimb or Licorice Fern trails if you really want to work up a sweat. Families can also geocache on the property (there are four different challenges to try) or test their detective skills with a nautical flag treasure hunt. The concierge desk has the need-to-know deets on these kid adventures. Don’t forget the small playground—a guaranteed hit. Depending on the weather, families can spend “gym time” on the water with kayak and SUP reservations. Paddling between the dock and beach is simple and safe, plus your little athletes might just spy a few seals along the way.
Alderbrook’s location is another perk. It’s just outside Olympic National Park and just down the road from Twanoh State Park, where families can spend time in the great outdoors every day of the week. There’s also the Theler Wetlands Nature Preserve, where miles of stroller-friendly trails welcome families and boardwalks weave through a wildlife mecca. (Hint: it’s a great spot to stretch your legs after a ferry ride, too.) While you’re on the peninsula, swing by the Hamma Hamma Oyster Saloon to pick up dinner, or browse local art and handmade items at the Union City Market. If you’re able add an outdoor meal at Hook & Fork to your day’s agenda, we definitely recommend it.
Insider tip: If you still need a pumpkin (or farm-fresh veggies), you can find both up the road at Hunter Farms.
4. Someone else does the cooking.
Leave the cooking to someone else so you can focus on your fam (and maybe have time to give the kids a few homework tips, too). The Restaurant at Alderbrook offers dine-in and take-out options, as well as the original socially distanced food choice: room service. Your kids will find perfectly sized faves like fish and chips, spaghetti and meatballs and sliders served with a starter, drink and dessert at the restaurant. While creative dinner options focused on fresh-caught seafood and other locally sourced menu items will sate hungry parents. Eating at the restaurant requires a reservation and masks must be worn, unless you’re eating. Families are also welcome to take their meal outside (we’re partial to the tented patios with heat lamps, fire pits and water views) or back to their rooms.
Insider tip: We’re smitten with the Union City Market curated picnic basket. Even though you do the cooking (in your cottage kitchen) everything you need to make a fresh, home cooked meal is included.
5. After dinner activities abound.
At home it’s easy to fall into a nighttime rut, but you don’t need to worry about that—you’re on vacation. Evenings at Alderbrook are made for play. Break out sports balls, Frisbees and cornhole boards on the cottage lawn to wear the kids out before bedtime. Then take a seat by the fire pit (with a glass of wine, maybe?), while the kids continue to run around the grassy lawn. Just before bed, break out the s’mores kit—the perfect campfire companion on a crisp fall evening. Then it’s off to bed!
6. There’s “extra credit” your kids will love.
Alderbrook has partnered with the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia to make special learning kits your kids will love. There are four to choose from—bugs, recycled creations, scribble bots and paracord survival bracelet—and they’re designed for kids ages four and up. Let your kiddo pick the kit that most interests them, then pull up a chair to work on it together. There’s plenty of learning going on here, but let’s keep that on the DL.
7. The cozy cottages and guest rooms make you feel at home.
While some family vacations may leave you feeling like you need another vacation, staying at Alderbrook will have the opposite effect. Not only are the grounds completely zen-ed out, but the two-bedroom cottages have everything you need to replicate the ease of at-home living (and learning) at your fingertips. Each cottage offers a spacious living room, a cozy gas fireplace and a fully stocked kitchen so you can really live it up. But if a classic guestroom is more your style, ask for a room with a deck or a room on the ground floor that opens up into the resort grounds. Either way, you’ll feel relaxed and ready to take on the day.
Alderbrook makes COVID safety a priority: Even before checking in, the staff at Alderbrook is working to ensure your stay is safe with a health screening email. Once you arrive, you can expect staff and guests to be wearing masks, and you’ll find hand sanitizing stations and social distance markers throughout the property. Indoor spaces have limited occupancies and many of the regular high-touch areas (think: self-serve coffee and X-Box game room) have changed to fit the times or are not available. Get the full scoop on Alderbrook’s COVID efforts here.
Remote Learning Package perks: Families can book a Remote Learning Package any time of the year, Sundays through Thursdays (excluding holidays and resort events). The package includes 15% off accommodations, Hands On Museum Learning kits for the kids and a s’mores kit for the fam. You bring the curriculum!
Getting there: Although it feels worlds away, Alderbrook is surprisingly close to Seattle. Located in the town of Union, it’s on the south end of the Hood Canal—less than a two-hour drive via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, or a 60-minute ferry ride from Pier 52 into Bremerton, followed by a short drive to the property. (Remember that the Bremerton ferry is still on reduced service due to COVID.) Families living on the “island” of West Seattle can board the Southworth ferry to Port Orchard from the Fauntleroy Ferry Dock. The drive to the resort is just under an hour from there. However you plan to make your way to the peninsula, be sure to pack engaging road trip essentials and your sense of adventure!
10 E. Alderbrook Dr.
—Allison Sutcliffe (all photos courtesy of the writer)
This trip was paid for by Alderbrook Resort & Spa, but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.