Unplug and relish the beauty of nature, music, architecture and delicious food.
In 1906, shipbuilder and former Seattle mayor Robert Moran purchased 7,000 acres on Orcas Island and began construction of his mansion, Rosario. It was to be his retirement home. He’d been given only a few years to live, due to business stresses, but the peace of his new home seemed to rejuvenate him, and he lived another 40 years, dying in 1943 at age 86.
Rosario’s style was inspired by the arts and crafts movement, which started in the late 1800s as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution’s sprawling cities and exhausting labor hours. As labor shifted from man to machine, many felt the qualities of artistic process and beauty had been lost — something which Moran witnessed firsthand every day at his shipyard.
The arts and crafts movement offered a humanist perspective and a devotion to craftsmanship, simplicity of design, and the natural joy of the outdoors. Moran sought to bring consumers back to nature where they could spend quality time with their families in a space characterized by handcrafted beauty.
The mansion is rich with fine materials and attention to detail, including mahogany paneling, earthen-tone tiles, stained glass lighting and unique fireplace hearths. The centerpiece of the mansion is the grand two-level Music Room, which features a Steinway grand piano and the first pipe organ installed in a private home in the Northwest.
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In 1911, Moran offered Washington state 3,000 acres; in 1921 the state accepted about 2,700 acres, and the land would become one of Washington’s first state parks, Moran State Park. Over the next decade, Moran added another 1,000 acres to the park. He sold Rosario in 1938. In 1960, Gil Geiser bought the property and opened Rosario Resort.
The Rosario Resort & Spa is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and serves as a peaceful step back into the past — and the ideal place to unplug and relish the beauty of nature, music, architecture and delicious food. The elegance and grace of Rosario’s design sets the tone for an idyllic escape from the fast-paced lifestyle of 2018.
Here are five things to do during your visit to the Rosario Resort & Spa.
- Unwind and unplug
Whether we like it or not, many of us are attached to our screens and have come to rely on electronics for pretty much everything. There’s nothing more freeing than unplugging for a few days. Stay in one of the Harborside Rooms that overlook the Cascade Bay and the islands in the distance. You’ll find it’s a far more pleasant view than that of your computer or smartphone screen!
- Taste the farm-to-fable cuisine
The Mansion Restaurant also overlooks the Cascade Bay, so you can take in the stunning scenery while you enjoy delicious cuisine cooked up by Executive Chef Raymond Southern. All produce, meat and seafood comes from local farms on Orcas Island and nearby, so the food is as fresh as it gets. Southern changes up the menu depending on the season, but the one thing you can always count on is creative, high-quality meals.
- Restore your body and soul at the spa
Spa days are always pleasant and relaxing, but the spa at Rosario takes it to the next level. Located in the Moran Mansion, you’ll be treated to even more of those beautiful views of the Cascade Bay. Take a dip in the historic indoor therapeutic pool, get a rejuvenation treatment, take a fitness class and spend time in the sauna.
You can get a massage on your own, or buddy up with your partner, parent or best friend for a couples massage. Body treatments offered include healing stones, a nourishing body wrap and several types of facials.
- Visit Moran State Park
Located adjacent to Rosario, Moran State Park was originally part of Moran’s estate. In addition to multiple hiking and biking trails, it offers horseback riding trails and areas for non-motorized boating. Be sure to visit the observation tower on Mount Constitution — it’s the highest point on the San Juan Islands and offers beautiful, panoramic marine views.
- Museum and Music Room
You can take a self-guided tour of the Moran Mansion between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week. The museum includes original photos and furnishings from the late 1800s and early 1900s, and a display of ships built by Moran’s company.
If you’re visiting on a Saturday, be sure to stop by at 4 p.m. for a special performance by Christopher Peacock. The in-house historian and general manager performs original piano music on the mansion’s 1900 Steinway grand piano. You can also hear “Phantom of the Opera” music played on the 1913 Aeolian organ, which features 1,972 pipes, and hear stories of some of the mansion’s most fascinating residents and visitors over the years.
Rosario Resort & Spa is located on Orcas Island, 90 miles north of Seattle. Catch the WA state ferry from Anacortes (reservations available online) or fly directly into the Rosario Marina on a float plane via Kenmore Air.