Forbes | Unforgettable Escapes -5 Reasons To Visit Canada’s Stunning Wickaninnish Inn
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Set on the breathtaking coast of Vancouver Island and ringed by the Pacific Ocean, lies the Wickaninnish Inn, a Relais & Chateau member, where nature’s wonder and luxurious comfort meet. This secluded sanctuary is set on the outskirts of the enchanting town of Tofino and offers those lucky enough to stay the chance to enjoy a stunning location, impeccable amenities, delectable dining, and a fascinating backstory. Here’s just five reasons why this incomparable British Columbia retreat offers a not-to-be-missed escape for those seeking that normally elusive mix of tranquility, luxury and adventure.
Location: A Coastal Paradise
Boasting a truly one-of-a-kind location, the Wickaninnish Inn is perched within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Clayoquot Sound, offering unparalleled access to the wonders of nature. Surrounded by old-growth forests, pristine beaches, and towering cliffs, this coastal retreat offers a chance for endless outdoor adventure.
The Wickaninnish Inn occupies a prime position on the edge of Tofino, a coastal town renowned for its adventurous allure and rugged beauty. However, it is the inn's location next to stunning Chesterman Beach that sets it apart. Just steps away from the inn's doorstep, the beach showcases the raw power of nature and features pristine, sandy shores and amazing ocean views. The expansive shoreline provides ample space for leisurely walks, exploring tidal pools, or simply sitting back and immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring coastal vistas.
The dearth of commercial development allows guests of the Wickaninnish Inn to experience the beach in its purest form. Whether you choose to stroll along the water's edge, dip your toes into the refreshing Pacific Ocean, or witness the breathtaking sunsets that paint the sky in hues of gold and pink, Chesterman Beach offers a true respite for those seeking to deepen their connection with nature.
Beyond the beach, Tofino itself is an homage to Mother Nature. The town is enveloped by the old-growth rainforest of Pacific Rim National Park, a pristine wilderness. There are innumerable hiking trails that snake through ancient trees, waterfalls, and breathtaking vistas.
In this coastal paradise, Wickaninnish Inn serves as the perfect base from which to embark on unforgettable adventures or simply bask in the tranquility of the surroundings. The combination of the inn's architectural efforts to authentically reflect its surroundings, its dedication to honoring its heritage, and its location on Chesterman Beach makes it an unmatched haven. It is a place where the mesmerizing beauty of the Pacific Northwest is at your doorstep, inviting you to immerse yourself in a coastal sanctuary that will leave an everlasting impression.
When you visit the inn, you can explore first-hand the journey of Charles McDiarmid, the founder and managing director of the Wickaninnish Inn. Charles’ dad Howard was the local GP and he hired Henry Nolla, a talented carver, to build their family cabin on Chesterman Beach and be the caretaker of their property.
Inspired by his father's vision of Tofino as a world-class tourist destination, McDiarmid developed a plan for the inn, secured investors and opened the inn (locally known as The Wick). The construction of the Wickaninnish Inn began in 1994, with Charles overseeing every aspect of the project. His commitment to sustainable development and respect for the environment guided the construction process. Charles collaborated closely with local artisans and indigenous artists to ensure the inn blended with the surrounding landscape and captured the essence of Tofino's cultural heritage.
When the Inn first opened, facing the challenge of attracting visitors to a remote location, McDiarmid made a bold leap. He decided to promote the worst weather during the traditionally slow season and market storm watching as a unique experience. The strategy paid off as media coverage drew attention to the inn and the concept of storm watching. Tofino's reputation began to change, and the town started to attract tourists throughout the year. The rest is history.
The rooms at the Wickaninnish Inn are tranquil retreats, offering respite from the outside world while immersing guests in the natural splendor that surrounds them. Each room boasts a harmonious blend of modern comforts and rustic charm, creating an inviting atmosphere. Of course, the main highlight is nature, which takes center stage thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that allow natural light to flood in. From the moment you step into your sanctuary, you are greeted by the sight of the mighty Pacific Ocean stretching out before you.
The sound of crashing waves and the scent of the saltwater breeze invite a sense of calm, while the plush furnishings, cozy fireplace (that you can actually use), and private balcony provide the perfect setting for relaxation and taking in the beauty of your natural surroundings. Every detail (like binoculars, custom-made art by local artists, a complimentary welcome drink and snacks and more) has been thoughtfully considered, ensuring that your stay is nothing short of extraordinary. Rarely has so much thought been put equally into a room’s design.
As though the jaw-dropping views weren’t enough, Wickaninnish Inn also takes guests on a flavorful culinary journey that is nothing short of extraordinary.
As you step into The Pointe Restaurant, you'll be greeted by panoramic ocean views that perfectly complement the exquisite cuisine. The restaurant's elegant ambience, adorned with natural wood accents and warm hues, creates an inviting atmosphere for a memorable dining experience.
The culinary team at The Pointe prides itself on showcasing the best of the region's flavors through their innovative farm-to-table approach. With a focus on locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant crafts artful dishes that celebrate the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. From freshly caught seafood, to tasty seasonal produce, each plate is a masterpiece of flavors and textures.
For an incredible gastronomic experience, opt for the Chef's Tasting Menu. This culinary feast takes you on a multi-course regional exploration, expertly paired with fine wines from the extensive cellar. You’re sure to be surprised and delighted as each course is presented with meticulous attention to detail. Elevate the meal with a wine pairing from Sommelier Mary Catherine. Her thoughtful wine suggestions enhance the flavor profiles of any dish.
Also be sure to check out the newly opened Howard's Wine Cellar at The Pointe Restaurant. The wine list has received prestigious recognition from Wine Spectator Magazine, earning the esteemed Best of Award of Excellence.
Activities and Amenities
The Wickaninnish Inn takes pride in its array of amenities that are designed to pamper and rejuvenate its guests.
The onsite Ancient Cedars Spa is a sanctuary of relaxation, offering a range of therapeutic treatments that incorporate local ingredients and wellness-focused techniques. Immerse yourself in the tranquil ambience of the spa, with serene treatment rooms overlooking the Pacific. You can begin your day with a personalized yoga session or indulge in a soothing massage or reflexology treatment. For those looking to work out, the fully equipped fitness center provides state-of-the-art equipment.
After a day of exploration, unwind in the cozy fireplace lounge or lose yourself in the vast collection of literary treasures, historic artifacts and games in the library. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the property to ensure you stay connected (but, believe me, you won’t want to). Complimentary bikes are also available and there’s a wonderful, easy-riding bike trail that you can follow into town.
After a stroll along Chesterman Beach, why not discover the enchanting wonders of Henry Nolla's Carving Shed. You’ll find it tucked amidst the trees on the inn's property. Henry Nolla, a skilled artisan, left a lasting imprint throughout the Wickaninnish Inn. Although he passed away in 2004, his artistic legacy lives on. Make sure to pay a visit to the carving shed, where you can admire the latest creations by artists who were inspired by and worked alongside Henry.