The Sentinel: A Love Story

When two interdependent life forces come together with a common purpose of realizing the full potential of themselves and others, alchemy is possible, magic can happen.  It was the right place at the right time, and most of all being present to what was unfolding.

Gillian and Richard met in Kaslo in 1992 on the first day of the first annual Kaslo jazz festival.  It wasn’t fireworks at first.  Richard was getting his life figured out and Gillian was looking for a new beginning. They are so different in so many ways, however they share one heart that together they bring to all humanity.

In 2017 after 23 years of marriage, parenting, and working in the field of harm reduction and drug policy reform, public speaking and advocacy, business, creating beauty, and community, they decided to return to Kaslo, unaware of what was about to be unleashed with the creation of The Sentinel.   It soon became clear that all their years together working with communities and individuals, plus doing their own inner work was about to coalesce into a new energy at the Sentinel.  They had never actually worked together before… 

Through their own experience, Richard & Gillian understand that life presents choices – the old ways or the new.  Which most supports the human existence?  They are dedicated to the evolution of humanity and realizing its full potential, by means of the most cutting-edge practices and modalities available. 

The Psychedelic Association of Canada was birthed at The Sentinel, which is an organisation of dedicated individuals who support education, safety and best practices using psychedelic substances and plant-based medicines.  They advocate for access to and the safe use of these medicines.   

The Sentinel is also the story of a channeled 3,000-4,000 year old stone entity (the sentinel); it is the years of relationship with groups and individuals that support its values; it is the amazing team of people that hold work here and hold themselves and others in the highest regard; it is the dedicated and courageous clients and visitors who come knowing they will leave transformed and bring what they received back to their every day lives. All these are facets are interwoven with life’s journey that supports and creates the greater Sentinel community.

There is no greater gift to oneself than being in service, our freedom is not separate from others.  It is time to listen to the medicine and bring ancient knowledge into existence.  The feminine is taking its rightful place and is supported and held by the masculine.  

Gillian and Richard continue to do their own work peeling back the layers of morass revealing what wishes to emerge into existence.  Come and join us by booking a private ceremonial retreat.

“Remember who you Are” 

Meet Richard Kay

Richard Kay

The Sentinel Co-Founder. Business Manifestor. Realizer of Potential.

Richard Kay is a successful businessman and entrepreneur with many years of experience in the hospitality and real estate businesses, operating corporate accommodation and vacation rental companies in Canada and Mexico.  

Richard is able to manifest ideas into reality by bringing teams of skilled people together to fulfill on a vision.  He co-founded The Sentinel Retreat & Wellness Centre, and is a founding member of The Psychedelic Association of Canada, a national organization that supports and educates communities, governments and businesses in the transition of psychedelics and plant based medicines becoming mainstream therapies.

He has over 20 years of personal experience working with plant based medicines and focuses his coaching to give people the opportunity to experience their unique gifts in the world.  Richard is dedicating the next 20 years of his life to create avenues for people and communities to realize their full potential by using cutting edge practices and technologies.

Meet Gillian Maxwell

Gillian Maxwell

The Sentinel Co-Founder. Community Thought Leader. International Changemaker.

Based in British Columbia, Canada, Gillian Maxwell brings her experience in harm reduction and drug policy reform, along with a wide and diverse network of colleagues and associates, who value her knowledge and wisdom. She co-founded the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC), served on the board of directors of MAPS Canada for over 10 years, and has spoken at conferences nationally and internationally. In 2012. Gillian received Queen Elizabeth II, Diamond Jubilee Medal, for community service in introducing harm reduction to Vancouver and successfully advocating for INSITE, North America’s first supervised injection site, that opened there in 2003. 

Gillian is an experienced coach, facilitator, public speaker, and knowledge exchange broker who is committed to transformation in individuals and organizations. She is a founding member of the Psychedelic Association of Canada. a psychedelic practitioner/integration coach, and appeared as a presenter in the first GoopLab Netflix series on psychedelics, called The Healing Trip

Gillian, Richard & Janet make the airwaves!

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” column_margin=”default” column_direction=”default” column_direction_tablet=”default” column_direction_phone=”default” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” row_border_radius=”none” row_border_radius_applies=”bg” overflow=”visible” overlay_strength=”0.3″ gradient_direction=”left_to_right” shape_divider_position=”bottom” bg_image_animation=”none”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_tablet=”inherit” column_padding_phone=”inherit” column_padding_position=”all” column_element_spacing=”default” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” column_link_target=”_self” column_position=”default” gradient_direction=”left_to_right” overlay_strength=”0.3″ width=”1/1″ tablet_width_inherit=”default” tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” animation_type=”default” bg_image_animation=”none” border_type=”simple” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Last week Sentinel co-founders Gillian Maxwell and Richard Kay, joined by General Manager Janet Mayfield, were featured on British Columbia’s public broadcaster, Kootenay Co-op Radio.


The interview was conducted at the end of a hectic week of on-site filming and photography — much of which will eventually find its way onto the Sentinel’s evolving website.


Click on the player below to listen to a fascinating half hour of radio, Kootenay-Style!


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row] Review’s The Sentinel

Here’s what Carolyn Heller, writing in, had to say about her Sentinel stay.

The sun is just breaking through the clouds over Kootenay Lake when I tiptoe out of my room and down to the waterside yoga studio. On a road trip through British Columbia’s West Kootenays region, en route from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies, I’ve stopped overnight at The Sentinel, a lakeside wellness retreat outside the town of Kaslo, and I’m hoping that some gentle early-morning stretches and downward dogs will loosen up my limbs before I get back in the car.

Looking at the lake as I limber up, I’m already regretting that my stay in this lovely lakeview setting has been just one night. Here’s the scoop:

About The Sentinel

Husband-and-wife owners Richard Kay and Gillian Maxwell opened The Sentinel in the spring of 2018, as a destination for both organized and self-guided wellness retreats and as a relaxing lodging for travelers passing through the region or wanting a quiet getaway. Overlooking Kootenay Lake, the property is about a 10-minute drive south of Kaslo, and an hour northeast of the mountain town of Nelson.

A timber-framed, window-lined roundhouse houses the yoga studio, which individual guests can use — as I did — for their own yoga, exercise, or other practice, unless a group has reserved the space for a retreat (which are scheduled periodically throughout the year).

The main “house,” located between the yoga studio and the guest room building, houses common space, including the dining area where breakfast is served. On the lower level is a modern guest lounge, lined with windows facing the lake, where guests can hang out, make themselves a cup of tea, or store their drinks or snacks in the guest fridge.

If you’re desperate to get online, plan to access the complimentary wi-fi in the lounge; the signal doesn’t necessarily reach all the guest rooms. [NB: happily, you can now access high-speed internet everywhere on the property].

Guest Rooms and Amenities

Two of The Sentinel’s 10 Zen-like guest rooms are located in the yoga building, while the rest are set in a contemporary two-story block overlooking the lake.

Simple and comfortable, the rooms are furnished with blond woods, braided rugs, puffy white duvets, and colorful pillows.

Decorated with lovely tile work, the bathrooms have rain showers and welcome heated floors.


Co-owner Richard, who was born in New Zealand and trained as a chef, oversees the ample breakfasts, served in the living-dining room area of the main house, which looks out over the lake. Guests can make themselves an espresso or cappuccino or choose from a selection of teas to accompany their morning meals.

During my stay, the breakfast offerings included a hearty oatmeal with hemp, goji berries, and banana, served with a berry compote, thick Greek yogurt paired with fresh blueberries and homemade granola, and a vegetable frittata served with sautéed greens from the property’s garden.

There was a delicious coffee cake for dessert, because even when you’re focusing on wellness, dessert brings pleasure, right?

Outdoor Sauna and Hot Tub

One of the loveliest spots on The Sentinel’s grounds is the lakeview deck, surrounded by evergreens, where guests can enjoy the wood-fueled sauna and a soak in the hot tub.

The property has a small pebbly beach on Kootenay Lake, below the deck. You can borrow a kayak or stand-up paddleboard to explore the water, and Gillian suggested taking a quick swim in the always-chilly lake, then sprinting up the hill and into the hot tub.

Alas, on my all-too-short visit, I wasn’t able to try out her recommendation, but I’m already working on a plan for a more extended wellness escape. And if your New Year’s goals include a wellness getaway in western Canada’s mountains, consider adding The Sentinel to your itinerary.


Double room rates at The Sentinel range from CAD$165-200 per night, including a full breakfast. You can compare rates at Priceline or Expedia.

Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, in partnership with The Sentinel, arranged my stay for review purposes.