The one and only Wickaninnish Inn
In a wildly beautiful place that still feels undiscovered, electric-green moss and fragrant cedar fill prehistoric forests, whales wave hello, tiny islands beg to be explored and the horizon, like the sandy beaches, goes on and on. Tofino.
In BC heading west, “the end of the road” is synonymous with “out of this world.” Over the years, The Wickaninnish Inn has been named #1 Resort in North America, #1 Resort in Canada and Most Excellent Spa Resort in the US and Canada. It was pinned with a prestigious Relais and Chateaux designation almost as soon as it opened its doors.
The Wick’s decor is as sensual and textured as it is simple and sophisticated and underscores its ocean vistas. Rooms here feel like a Tofician’s home. Bird and mammal guides and binoculars line the shelves. Rubber boots, rain gear, weighty Hudson’s Bay Company blankets and backpacks outfit each room’s closets, on loan any time you feel like setting off on a worry-free adventure. (Pick up the keys to the Inn’s Lexus, if you’d like start your adventure off with a glide.) Come back to a jacuzzi tub overlooking the beach, locally-made seaweed soap, and nubbly finishes like stone, shells and knotty wood furniture that, inside, whisper the sentiments Nature roars outside at the top of her lungs.
“A big part of the experience is subconscious,” says Charles McDiarmid, Managing Director and part owner. McDiarmid, as a boy, scampered around Tofino’s surf-strewn rocks before it was ever a surfer’s paradise, before nature lovers thronged, and before celebrities came to unplug. During its founding, he helped decide where to place the buildings’ footprints to preserve the most trees while achieving the best view. “The natural forest,” he says, “is very much a part of who and what we are.”
So whether you fell in love, got engaged, spent your honeymoon, or found yourself in Tofino’s emerald forest like a pilgrim one summer, it’s time to go to the end of the road again.
Fly: It’s about a one hour flight from YVR to Tofino on Orca Air. The Inn’s concierge can arrange ground transport from the airport to the Inn. www.flyorcaair.com
Drive: A beautiful six hours from Vancouver to the western edge of the continent.
Take transit: Take the Horseshoe Bay Ferry to Nanaimo in time to catch the Tofino Bus that departs from the BC Ferries’ Departure Bay parking lot. Secure advance reservations. A local driver tackles the four-hour, sometimes twisty, drive, leaving you to enjoy the outstanding lakes, rivers, forests and mountains. The bus does not stop at The Wick so ask your concierge to help arrange the final leg of the journey. www.tofinobus.com
Where to eat
The Pointe Restaurant (for superb fine dining) and Driftwood Cafe at The Wickaninnish Inn; Wildside Grill behind Beaches Grocery, just up the road (“Natural foods from natural dudes.” The most fun way to get to this authentic seafood shack is on one of the Inn’s cruiser bikes); The Common Loaf Bakeshop (a long-time cornerstone of Tof City with baked goods that never disappoint).
~Bears, orcas and boatloads of travellers co-exist happily here. West Coast Aquatic Safaris or numerous other outfitters are happy to introduce you. www.whalesafaris.com
~Hop a ride to Hot Springs Island for a spa experience designed by none other than Mother Nature. Ask the concierge to help make arrangements during your stay.
~Kayak in magnificent Clayoquot Sound with Tofino Sea Kayaking (tofinoseakayaking.com) or one of the many other kayak outfits.
~Don’t overlook a walk on the beach or an easy hike that begins at the Wick’s doorstep — they don’t seem as adventurous by comparison but anything can happen at the edge of the world.
Photo by Anthony Redpath/ Jeremy Koreski