Frette: Hotel of the Month Interview With Charles
Original Interview on Frette.com
" We attempt to create an experience that is special, as if a close friend is coming to visit."
- Charles McDiarmid
We had the exclusive opportunity to sit down with Mr. McDiarmid, Managing Director of the Wickaninnish Inn.
Tell us about the design of Wickaninnish Inn.
The Inn truly embodies its commitment to “rustic elegance on nature’s edge.” The Inn’s two buildings, “At-the-Pointe” and “On-the-Beach", have been designed to complement each other and the natural, peaceful beauty of their surroundings. Each room at Wickaninnish Inn is designed to truly charm and feature gas fireplaces as well as individual balconies.
Throughout The Inn, three distinct design sub-themes work together in perfect harmony. The outdoors are brought into guestrooms through expansive windows looking out onto the water and a set of binoculars sits in each room so that guests may take in the views of the iconic winter storms at their leisure. A celebration of The Inn’s location on the cusp of an old growth temperate forest and the largest ocean on the planet is demonstrated through subtle touches, including barnacle-encrusted stone bookends, handmade driftwood chairs and framed seaweed art. Varying textural elements are also on display throughout the property, such as wire-brushed wood on guestroom side tables with ridges that reveal the growth line of the wood as well as a stunning carpet in The Pointe Restaurant that mimics the ripples of the ocean.
What are a few fun facts about the property that many are surprised to learn?
1) The Inn looks out over the largest ocean in the world with an indigenous history that goes back 10,000 years
2) The Inn opened in 1996 and soon after became a Relais & Chateaux property in 1997
3) The Inn is situated on a 2.7 kilometer beach and is the only hotel on the beach
4) Custom-made runners by Frette are featured on the dining room tables, exposing the natural old growth wood
5) The Inn sits in the center of Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO biosphere reserve with Pacific Rim National Park in the distance
What touches do you believe make a room or suite feel like a home-away-from-home?
We make every effort possible to ensure the Wickaninnish Inn becomes our guests’ home-away-from-home. Perhaps the most important touch is the friendly, yet professional and highly-personalized service provided by our colleagues. We attempt to create an experience that is special, as if a close friend is coming to visit. On arrival, each guest is welcomed with a complimentary pour of port, an old seafaring tradition. In addition to that, we ensure whenever possible that guests are placed in the same room as previous stays so that it feels as if they are being welcomed home on every visit. Because the destination itself was founded on the pastime of winter storm watching, each room also comes equipped with the necessary rain gear and boots that guests will require for storm watching. And last but not least, our guestrooms feature the most incredible hair dryer, hand-selected by the team at Ancient Cedars Spa.
Walk us through your ideal stay at Wickaninnish Inn.
My ideal stay at Wickaninnish Inn begins with a walk on the beach just after check-in. Nothing compares to breathing in the fresh salt air mixed with the smell of the old growth forest in the distance. After settling in, I’d go for an early dinner on-property at The Pointe Restaurant that begins with a glass of Blue Mountain sparkling wine at our On the Rocks Bar followed by a leisurely meal consisting of the Chef’s Tasting Menu by Executive Chef Warren Barr. To elevate the dining experience, speak with our sommelier about pairing it with wines from British Columbia. Afterwards, I’d wander back to my room to enjoy the sunset with a book in hand.
The next morning, I’d wake up early to borrow one of The Inn’s complimentary bikes and ride the five miles into downtown Tofino. Along the way, I’d stop at the crab dock as well as the botanical gardens. Once in Tofino, I’d enjoy lunch at Shelter Restaurant then take an adventure tour, such as bear watching, with Browning Pass Charters, operated by life-long Tofino residents Mike and Lynn White. That evening, I’d request a romantic turndown from the hotel with petals and a sea salt-filled bathtub.
The following day, I’d take a tour through Pacific Rim National Park and visit Schooner Cove. Then, I’d walk the Wild Pacific Trail – Lighthouse Loop and stop for lunch in Ucluelet. Once I’ve returned back to Tofino, I’d indulge in a casual dinner at Wildside Grill topped off with a scoop of gelato at Chocolate Tofino.
On my final day, I’d take a surf lesson from Surf Sister then make my way to Sea Monster Noodle for lunch. They have the most delicious Dan Dan Noodles. In the afternoon, I’d book a sightseeing tour to Hot Springs Cove on a float plan. Once back at the hotel, I’d bliss out with a relaxing massage at Ancient Cedars Spa – the perfect end to my stay.
What is your greatest indulgence at a hotel when you travel?
Definitely room service.
Can you share your go-to in-room dining order?
When it comes to in-room dining, I’m a fairly simple guy. My personal go-to is a club sandwich with fries. However, for a taste of the west coast while staying at Wickaninnish Inn, I’d suggest the smoked salmon platter.
What is the most unique experience the hotel has put together for a guest?
For one couple, our concierge put together a scavenger hunt with clues that took them through the property’s Rainforest Beach Loop Trail and ended on White Shell Beach. At the end of the scavenger hunt was a diamond ring. She said yes, of course.
What do you believe is the greatest hidden gem in Tofino?
In my opinion, walking Schooner Cove in Pacific Rim National Park is the greatest hidden gem. Even on the longest and busiest days of the year, it’s usually deserted and peaceful.
In your opinion, what is the best time of year to visit Tofino? Why?
For those who wish to experience the spectacular fury of a west coast winter storm complete with gale force winds, giant swells and lashing waves, visit from November through March. Those seeking a calmer, tranquil experience should consider visiting during September or October.
Why do you travel?
I travel to enjoy different experiences and immerse myself in different cultures.
How do you define luxury?
For me, the ultimate luxury is time. Time to relax, time to simply be.
What does it feel like to wrap yourself in Frette?
When you wrap yourself in Frette, it feels like time stands still. It’s as though you have all the time in the world. Whether it’s a napkin, a tablecloth, a bath towel or luxurious sheets, there’s nothing like the feel of Frette.