It’s hard to find a place that isn’t “hooked in” to the hub and the buzz of our networked society. It’s hard to get away from being connected to the present moment of the rest of the world. For me, it can get in the way of vacations. I bring all the busy and distracting parts of life with me—my phone, my laptop—that inevitably become a tether to all the things I wanted a vacation from in the first place. How can you truly enjoy a “getaway” if you can’t get away?
It starts with a mansion on an island.
Orcas Island, to be exact. It’s an incredible piece of nature nestled in the San Juan archipelago. Sloping forests are separated by rolling fields. The agricultural sea towns of Orcas Island are completely removed from the pace of the rest of the world. It’s an island-wide attitude.
You know you are getting close to the Moran estate when the landscape starts to change. The wild beauty slowly shifts to thoughtfully kept grounds, building anticipation of something beautiful the closer you get to the Mansion. A grassy roundabout surrounded by an impossibly large ship chain pulls your eye up to an incredible building that looks like a ship, ready to pull out to sea. It’s once copper roof, now sea green with patina, caps plaster white walls with porthole windows at the top. The building is grand, and yet simple in nature.
Moran Mansion was built in the first decade of the 20th century by Seattle Shipbuilder and Mayor Robert Moran. The main building, now a museum, showcases historic photos from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, as well as a collection of ships built by the Moran Brothers Company and exquisite original architecture. The building is alive with history.
The Mansion overlooks the East Sound, and while immense, it’s impact on the environment feels natural. Harmony between art and nature is part of the essence of what makes Moran Mansion so special. Robert Moran was very passionate about creating a space that celebrated the craftsmanship of man while respecting the beauty of nature. You can see it in the small details of the mansion: the large, yet simple, mahogany doors hanging on hinges only found in large vessels, or the windowed views of nature that hang on the wall like pieces of art.
The Moran Estate is a fully functioning resort, complete with an incredible restaurant, lounge, spa, and a variety of outdoor amenities. Enjoy brunch or dinner created from local and farm fresh foods by a world class chef with a stunning view of the Cascade Bay. Swim in either the family or adult pools, play a game of tennis, or relax in their high end spa. If you are adventure minded, Moran State Park right next door has acres of wilderness and miles of trails. In the 1930’s, the army corp of engineers build an impressive observation tower at the top of Mount Constitution. Climb to the top, and you will experience breathtaking 360 degree views of the Canadian Rockies, Cascade Mountain range, and the entire San Juan archipelago.
I finished out my night with the best Manhattan I have ever tasted. Rosario blends, casks, and ages signature bourbon blends in house. Every cocktail on the menu was interesting and well thought out. Speaking with the bartender, I learned more about bourbon than I could have imagined there was to know. The lounge was cozy and chic, like a good friends living room, with a relaxed and fun atmosphere. I was continually impressed with the knowledge and service of the staff, and the permeating ambiance of the building itself.
Did I mention there’s no reception?
Really, there isn’t any once you reach the grounds. Not even a weak signal. While they do have free wireless internet, the absence of data at my fingertips was the tipping point that made my experience so incredible. There were no distractions. Nothing to break the spell cast by Rosario. I was completely immersed in the history of the building and the beauty of nature, and forgot that I had left the rest of the world at home. I was truly on vacation.