My wife and I, and our 23 year old daughter just returned from Orcas Island and the Rosario Resort. I must say that I'm a bit confused by the recent reviews here. I must not have stayed in the same place.
First off, I'll say that the area is simply gorgeous. Beautiful views abound, and the people on Orcas Island proved to be among the friendliest I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. That said, I can only say that if the Rosario Resort wasn't the only true resort on the island, it would certainly be in trouble. The area is very laid-back, and simple. The Rosario Resort stands out from its surroundings for sure. The place "looks" very nice. Unfortunately, after staying there, it's VERY easy to see that the resort is not quite what it appears to be. The place is mostly inoperable. By this, I mean that most of what you see is actually not open for business yet. The large dining room is not used. Instead, there are only a few tables in what appears to be little more than a wide hallway that make up the dining room.
We arrived via Kenmore Air float-plane. The people at Kenmore Air are great, and this is the ONLY way I would travel to Orcas Island, fast and comfortable. Plus, it gives you a great sky view of the San Juan Islands. When making my original reservations with the resort, I asked for advice on the best way to get to the resort and was told the float-plane was the way to go. They were absolutely correct. A few days before we were scheduled to arrive, I called just to make sure the reservation was still good, and ask about the possibility of shipping extra luggage via UPS. I was told that was actually quite common, and then I was told that it's a good thing I had called and told them I was arriving via float-plane, not that anyone asked prior, or let me know that I should tell them how I was arriving. Anyway, the day we arrived, the plane let us off at the dock located at the edge of the resort property. No one was there to greet us, and there were no signs that indicated where we needed to go for check-in. We wandered up the hill toward the mansion. We stopped a woman and asked her where to check-in. It was actually a pretty healthy walk up a long hill. Older guests with luggage would have a difficult time with the walk. Once we got to the main entrance, there was no sign of a bellman or anyone else who might greet guests and handle luggage. I left my wife and daughter in the driveway with the luggage while I went into the mansion to check in. I was greeted at the front desk by a friendly woman who checked us in. When I mentioned that it was kind of tough figuring out where to go after the plane dropped us off, she told me that I should have called ahead to let them know we were coming by plane. I told her that I had called and then she saw the reservation on her computer that I had indeed called. She apologized for the confusion. We were given our room keys and map and off we went to find our room. Not a bad walk but again, no offer to handle the luggage.
The room had plenty of room with a partial water view. We were told that the resort was sold-out and we weren’t able to get the full water view room we requested when we originally made our reservation. I figured out rather quickly why they were "sold-out". While walking around, I noticed that the building we were in was the ONLY building with usable rooms. The other two buildings (both nicer and closer to the mansion) were still being renovated. They had been painted on the front facing side of the buildings and looked real nice but if you walked around them, you found the back sides were unpainted and the rooms were empty and in various stages of repair.
After we settled in we wandered around to check the resort out. Went to the mansion and looked around. Very pretty place for sure, nice manicured lawns and a heated pool. I went back to the front desk and asked how to make reservations for dinner and the woman told me to go to the house phone and call the number for the dining room. I did so and as I dialed, I heard the phone at the other end of the hallway ring. I was calling a phone no more than 50ft away! The lady at the front desk couldn't have told me to walk down the hall instead? We walked down the hall and talked with a young woman about making dinner reservations. She told us that the restaurant was booked for that night so we made reservations for the other nights we were staying to make sure we had a place to eat. While making our reservations, we found the restaurant only serves dinner. They are not open for breakfast even though the directory in the room said breakfast and dinner. So what do guests do for breakfast and lunch? Well, unless you take a bus, taxi or drive your own car to someplace in the next town, you have but one choice. There is a small cafe located at the marina adjacent to the resort. Many might think that this is simply another resort-owned restaurant but, actually the marina and cafe are NOT part of the resort. It just "appears" to be. The cafe has both good food and good service, so for the most part, it all works. The problem is this will NOT be a very good setup when and if the resort actually opens up the rest of their rooms. Hopefully by then they will be serving breakfast and lunch up at the mansion
During our stay, we had other "interesting" experiences that only enforced my belief that this resort is just getting started, and is dealing with some serious growing pains. Or should I call it a steep learning curve?
A sign in the room says towels left on the floor will be replaced, ones left on the racks/towel bars will not (everybody wants to be "green" right?). Not once did house-keeping get that right. On the first day they took the towels on the racks even when we left them hanging as instructed. Then on the second day they took all the towels but neglected to replace them. On our 3rd day we had run out of toilet paper and had to use tissues.
Getting information via the house phone was also a challenge. Seems that most of the numbers they list in their resort guide do not actually connect to anyone. Housekeeping? Nope. Car rental? Nope. We finally called up to the front desk and asked about renting a car which was listed as a service provided by the resort and were told they know nothing about rental cars. We told the woman there was an extension listed for car rentals and she responded with we must have had an old guide book. We said the guide also said breakfast was served in the dining room. Again, we must have had an old guide in our room. Maybe someone should look through the rooms and update the guide books so they reflect what the current owner does provide and not depend on the previous owners provisions.
Note about car rentals: There's only one and they are great! Call Amy at Orcas Island Shuttle. They will drop a car at the resort for you (or anywhere on the island), and you can leave it there when you're done with it. VERY convenient!
Our only other issue was with the dining room. While the young ladies serving there could not have been any nicer, there was a young man who appeared to be a manager of some sort whose demeanor was anything but relaxing. It was apparent that the resort is new and everyone was still learning but this “manager” made our first visit to the lounge very uncomfortable. He was very gruff with the girl tending bar to the point that he took a drink she was making out of her hands and poured it out and instructed to her loud enough so that we could hear from across the room how to make the drink properly. I’m sure it was as uncomfortable for her as it was for us to watch. He also seemed to really have a problem with our 23 year old daughter being in the lounge with us. On our first visit he walked by staring at her making her very uncomfortable being there. She is young looking for her age but the girl tending bar asked for her ID as she should before serving her. He walked by several times staring at our daughter and questioned the girl tending bar as well as the other waitress about her. We could clearly hear the girl at the bar saying that she did check her ID. He continued to look at our daughter every time he walked by her until we left the lounge. On our last day there we sat in the lounge and had drinks before catching our plane back to Seattle. He again focused his attention on our daughter and after we were there for the better part of an hour came over to us and in quite a rude and confrontational manner said he needed to see her ID. He was not at all polite or apologetic for his approach to her. I think he is the one who needs a lesson in customer service.
Would we go back to the Rosario Resort again, probably not in the foreseeable future. They are obviously going through a great deal of growing pains, and would like to make some suggestions for a better experience for future visitors.
1. Some signage down by the dock area directing guests where to go would be great.
2. Perhaps some seating on or near the dock for guests waiting for the plane.
3. Bellmen to help guests with luggage.
4. Train the front desk people. They were by far the least helpful.
5. Increase dining capacity.
6. Simplify the menu at the Quilted Pig. The menu is far too ostentatious for the kind of crowd likely to stay there. The lounge had a nice easy menu that worked well for an afternoon snack. The dinner menu was nice but didn’t appeal to all appetites.
7. Updated guest information booklet provided in rooms.
8. More outdoor seating besides the pool area. There are some beautiful vantage points on the property and it would be nice to be able to sit down and enjoy the view or to read a book.
9. Setup some sort of WiFi. (there's little or no cell phone or internet).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A historic waterfront resort located on Orcas Island. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Rosario Hotel Eastsound
- Rosario Island
- Rosario Resort Eastsound
- Rosario Resort Orcas Island
- Rosario Resort And Spa Orcas Island/Eastsound, Washington