Hotel of the Week - Wickaninnish Inn, Tofino, Canada
Storm season arrives at Canada’s award-winning Wickaninnish Inn.
MOST resort operators would prefer to do without a rainy season but at the Wickaninnish Inn on Canada’s Vancouver Island, management and guests positively revel in the wild weather.
Perched on rocks above the driftwood-strewn Chesterman Beach with an old-growth rainforest as backdrop, and the surfer-dude town of Tofino only minutes away, the ruggedly beautiful Wickaninnish has made a positive of the island’s annual ‘Storm Season’.
Three metres of rain a year and open ocean all the way to Japan make for ample “Old Testament“ weather, perfect for holing up in your cosy room by the fire with a glass of BC red while watching the storms rage.
Each of the 75 rooms and suites features sweeping beach or ocean views from picture windows, a private balcony, fireplace, deep soaking tub and sturdy rain slickers hanging in the closet.
The Pointe Building’s 45 rooms are to be refurbished in January and February (reopening at the beginning of March). The new look is a very elegant take on the hotel’s rustic locale celebrating the confluence of old-growth forest and ocean, says general manager Charles McDiarmid.
More than CAN$50,000 ($48,000) will be spent on each room.
Expect underfloor heating, naturally lit bathrooms (in some instances the tub is against the window), handsome timber trim (using old-growth Douglas Fir reclaimed from a demolished railway bridge) and a flat-screen television that pops up from a handsome credenza.
Where to eat
Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Nutting’s Pacific Northwest cuisine celebrates the island’s seafood and organic farm produce while The Pointe Restaurant's floor-to-ceiling windows deliver 240-degree ocean views.
Nearby Tofino has the charm of a Byron Bay or Nimbin and there are loads of fun eateries to explore. A favourite with locals is the bustling SOBO (311 Neill St), which began life as a food truck famous for its spicy fish tacos wrapped in blue corn tortillas. Try the cayenne and tequila shrimp or the wild Chinook salmon.
An afternoon in the Ancient Cedars Spa, voted one of the best in North America by Travel & Leisure. Opening directly onto the rocky foreshore, the spa features products made from seaweed harvested on the island.
Location, location, location. The resort’s ravishing beachfront situation is so alluring you may never leave the property (each room comes with a small library of books and CDs) but if you do, fishing, surfing, whale watching and forest tramping are only minutes away.
The good news from the front desk is that summers are mild and dry and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the hotel hosts a beach crab bake that would make Gidget green with envy. Driftwood benches and tables, hand hewn by a resident sculptor, complete the picture.
‘Storm Season’ rates, valid to the end of February, from CAN$300 ($289) a night. The hotel closes Jan 2 to Feb 10.