A Century Old & New Again

Rosario Resort got a facelift, a new marina configuration and much more.

Cruising Northwest in Orcas Island’s East Sound, we could see the white Moran Mansion come into view well before we arrived. The century-old mansion was built as the private residence of Seattle shipbuilder and two-time Seattle mayor Robert Moran and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Located approximately 80 miles north of Seattle on 30 acres of Orcas Island waterfront, today it houses the popular resort and spa with 104 guest rooms and scenic mountain views.

Moran built Rosario with Arts and Crafts ideals in mind — time spent with family, a respect for nature and a return to quality hand craftsmanship lost in the industrial revolution. One hundred years later, San Juan County has approved the Rosario Resort Master Plan for redevelopment, which preserves Moran’s legacy and renews resort operations for the enjoyment of the community and visitors for Rosario’s next 100 years.

Anyone who hasn’t visited in the past couple years will notice the extension to the rock breakwater. A concrete floating wave attenuator extending eastward has been added to better protect the moorage. The extension also provides additional moorage and a seaplane landing float.

The marina was originally built for Moran’s 132-foot yacht Sanwan, and this past winter’s renovation started from the seabed up. All the old pilings were removed to allow a new U-shaped dock configuration.

“I have been at Rosario for many years and the old docks were older than I am,” said Christopher Peacock, Rosario Resort & Spa general manager. “I am sure our marina guests will be happy with the new U-shaped configuration, which will allow boats to enter our slips down a deeper center channel.”

There are 30 slips, and expanded side ties are available. We also noticed wider moorage slips, and more distance between the ends of the finger (88 feet) provided plenty of room for maneuvering when docking.

Marina personnel monitor VHF Channel 78A and request that arriving boaters call prior to entering the marina for a slip assignment. Dock personnel will be on hand to assist with lines.

Seasonal summer rates, from May 26 to Sept. 15, are $2 per foot, with a minimum charge of $52 for boats under 30 feet. The fee includes 30- or 50-amp power (with more 50-amp power available), Wi-Fi, unlimited water, access to the — rebuilt this season — outdoor Marina Family Pool and showers, the use of which is included in the moorage fee for up to four people. Many slips are available to book online, but if there appears to be no availability, call the harbormaster’s office for availability.

Adjacent to the marina is the seasonal Cascade Bay Grill and Store. Rosario’s outdoor dining is popular with boaters, and the grill’s patio seating has been enlarged for this season. Visitors can enjoy oysters, grilled salmon, crab, fish and chips, brats, pizza, salads and burgers. The adjacent store offers espresso drinks, to-go breakfast items, groceries, ice, apparel, gifts and basic supplies.

A visit is not complete without taking some time to stroll around the resort’s elegant gardens and pathways; it’s a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. In the morning and evening, it’s common to see deer roaming the grounds. Guests can also take a self-guided tour of the mansion.

The Spa at Rosario is located on the garden level of the Moran Mansion, and moorage guests may use the facilities, including the historic indoor therapeutic pool and newly refurbished outdoor adult pool for a daily fee of $10 (plus tax) per person, valid until noon the following day.

One cannot mention the mansion without talking about its centerpiece, the grand Music Room/Museum. It features a two-story 1913 Aeolian pipe organ, a 1900 Steinway piano, a Belgian stained-glass window and two mezzanine libraries overlooking a Tiffany chandelier. There is also a dry sauna, a fitness center, exercise classes and therapeutic service — including massages, facials, manicures and pedicures.

Happy hour (aka oyster hour) consists of fireside cocktails and small bites in the rich mahogany turn-of-the-century setting of the original living room of the magnificent mansion, now The Morgan Lounge. Enjoy a magnificent meal prepared by Executive Chief Raymond Southern and his staff in The Mansion Restaurant. The restaurant is on the mansion’s veranda, and overlooks East Sound and features local produce, meats and seafood.