I was going to tell you all about how I imagined I was Anne, dressed in my Sunday best, walking up the grand staircase of the White Sands Hotel;
but something so unexpected happened just after we walked through the door of Dalvay by the Sea that all thoughts of Anne were momentarily forgotten.
“Would you like a free upgrade? I’m going to put you in the honeymoon suite that William and Kate stayed in when they visited.”
After two days of flying, and four flights to get to Prince Edward Island, I’d just arrived with my fiancé at Dalvay By the Sea. This was the hotel used as the “White Sands Hotel” in the 1987 film Anne of Avonlea and the Road to Avonlea series. At the time the film came out, the hotel had to start answering their phone as “White Sands Hotel” because so many people wanted to stay there, but they didn’t realize that wasn’t the real name of the hotel! And this connection to L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was exactly why I was there now and had made a reservation for the next couple nights.
Upon walking through the front door I felt immediately embarrassingly under dressed. Fearing the concierge would turn up their nose at our appearance, I’d hoped to quickly acquire a room key, and scurry upstairs to change into a dress and freshen up before returning downstairs for our dinner reservation. Being also quite exhausted from lack of sleep and the time zone change, I was sure I hadn’t heard right just now. Did he just say he was putting us in the honeymoon suite?! The one Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, stayed in during their honeymoon?! Was I dreaming?
The reason for our visit to PEI this summer was actually to tour wedding venues and select one for our wedding the next summer, so while staying in a honeymoon suite seemed aptly fitting for this trip, I couldn’t believe our luck! I suppose it shouldn’t have been entirely surprising, because our trip happened to fall about a week before the PEI tourism season kicked into gear. Most of the attractions and restaurants we wanted to visit were closed until Victoria Weekend. This meant that the hotel was mostly empty this week.
After picking my jaw up off the floor and taking the room key after several profuse thank yous, we humbly took ourselves past a delightfully warm fireplace in the entrance hall, up the grand central staircase, and then through a door to the third floor stairs that looked more like a fire escape or staff only area. Up on the third floor landing was another seating area, minus a fireplace, and then tucked around a corner was our door.
The Dalvay by the Sea hotel is a historic building in the PEI National Park. It was formerly the large estate of a wealthy oil baron. I’d read that the rooms in this old building were small, so I couldn’t believe my eyes when we entered the honeymoon suite. We had a window nook, a seating area with a couch and coffee table, our own bathroom, and then the bed was up on a raised platform around the corner! And the view! Our windows looked out on the lawn, the lake, and from the bed I could see the sea beyond the trees bordering the other side of the lake. We would get morning sun streaming in in the morning, but now it was just about sunset.
Not wanting to waste a minute, we did a quick clothing change and hair brush before returning downstairs. As we descended the grand stairs back to the entryway, the delightful warm and cozy smell of wood smoke from the fireplace met our nostrils.
With the sun setting behind the house, on the lawn sat several wooden adirondack chairs looking inviting in the last rays. We pushed our dinner reservation back a half hour, ordered drinks from the bar, and then went out to claim a couple chairs. We were the only ones out there on the lawn. Well, us and the gigantic Canadian geese that thankfully had no interest in us. We relaxed into the wooden chairs warmed by the waning sun.
Our bartender turned up at our side with our drinks in short order and then we enjoyed cocktail hour by the quiet lake. Having asked for a mocktail, and left it to the bartender to surprise me, I now sipped a mix of club soda, simple honey syrup, lime, and rose water. And he added a viola flower and mint leaves to the glass. The effect was delicious and pretty. Our cares and stresses seemed to melt away. Our always tense back muscles relaxed. Life couldn’t get much better than this.
Well ok, it could, and did- when we returned inside for dinner at the hotel’s Macmillan restaurant. Upon walking inside we were surprisingly greeted by the same man that an hour or so earlier had provided us with our rental car! He had told us upon locking up his shop as he handed us our car key that he had a dinner engagement with his family. And here they were! And, based on the conversations around us that we could overhear, they were not the only local family enjoying a dinner out at our hotel before the tourist season really started. We knew we’d picked a good place for dinner based on the number of locals that seemed to be eating there as well.
After much contemplation of the nearly completely locally sourced menu items, We spoiled ourselves by selecting the two most expensive items, steak and a seafood platter of lobster, crab, and mussels. It could have been that we’d barely eaten while flying all day, but the food tasted delicious. I was suddenly glad I hadn’t eaten hardly more than a Timbit all day. The wait had been worth it. Due to our hunger level and the unbelievably delicious food, we all but inhaled our dinner, managing to eject “wow” between every other bite.
The dining room, lit only it seemed by wall sconces set to the lumens of the candles that might have once lit this room (had the dining room not been a later addition to the building), grew romantically dimmer as the evening hours passed. Candles twinkled brightly on each table. And low instrumental covers of La Vie en Rose and other French songs I recognized but could not place wafted through the dining room. I don’t think any honeymoon we could have planned would be any better than this night.
After dinner we made our way to the library room off the entrance hall where a second cheerful fireplace was glowing in the dim light of evening. Meaning to digest over a game of checkers by the fire, we instead ended up chatting with a local mother who had taken her two young daughters out to dinner at our hotel just for something to do for the evening. The three of them now sat cozily in front of the fireplace. After exchanging pleasantries and gaining a few more local tips for activities to fill our time on the island, we left them to the fire and returned to our King Suite on the third floor.
Full and happy, I returned to our room to bathe in the bath Kate Middleton used then climb into bed in the bed William and Kate slept in. It was like tucking inside a cloud. This must be what life as a Duchess felt like. I drifted off, lulled by the constant cooing sounds of the seagulls around the lake, wondering if the royal couple behind closed doors watched Netflix on a laptop together before bed too. And I thought about Montgomery’s Anne. I’m pretty sure I felt the same sense of awe about my entire experience at the Dalvay as Anne had felt about her first visit to the White Sands Hotel. And I’m definitely considering staying here again next year for our real honeymoon.
Plan your stay at Dalvay by the Sea:
Do I need a Parks Pass to access the Dalvay Hotel?
As Dalvay By the Sea is located in the PEI National Park, you’ll have to pass through the National Park ticket kiosk. You will not need a park pass if you have dinner or stay reservations at the Dalvay. The kiosk attendant will call the Dalvay to confirm and let you into the park. However, if you plan to park anywhere in the park besides at the Dalvay, you will need a park pass. EXCEPT if you’re there in the off season. At the time we were there, the kiosks were not yet open for the summer season and we were told at the reception desk at the Dalvay that we were free to park anywhere in the park without a pass if the kiosks were not open yet.
What else does Dalvay By the Sea offer?
- The Dalvay has a few paddle boats and kayaks available for guests to take out on the lake.
- They also rent bikes, $60 per day.
- There is also a small spa in a separate building just off the parking lot.
- There are also tennis courts and a swing set.
- Park beach access is right across the street from the Dalvay property.
Does Dalvay by the Sea have cottages?
Dalvay by the Sea has 25 guest rooms in the hotel and eight cottages on the property. Four cottages have two-bed, one bathroom and the other four have two-bed, two-bathroom. Cottages have a kitchenette, but no full kitchens or outdoor grills.
Have you been to PEI? Would you come here for a honeymoon? What kind of place would you like to go for a honeymoon? Tell me in the comments below!
Watch the Vlog: Prince Edward Island Honeymooning & Wedding Planning
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