A Note From Charles August 2016
It’s hard to believe, but this past week we celebrated 20 years since the Wickaninnish Inn opened its doors to its first guests.
It had long been our family’s dream to open an inn here on Chesterman Beach, so August 9, 1996, was an emotional day for all of us. A nerve-wracking one, too, because there was no certainty that all our hard work would prove successful. After all, in 1996, Tofino was still a well-kept secret, a quirky little seaside village beloved by locals, but little known outside British Columbia.
How that has changed, too. Tofino’s become a culinary hotspot, thanks in large part to the Inn’s chefs, past and present. It attracts people from all over the world, including celebrities like the actor Neil Patrick Harris and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And it has just become the first Canadian destination to win a prestigious Sunset Travel Award: The lifestyle magazine has named Tofino 2016’s “Best Beach Town in the West,” one of 20 destinations recognized for exceptional lodging, dining, cultural tourism, outdoor adventure, attractions and more.
So many people have played a part in making Tofino the great destination it has become, but the one I’m most proud of is my dad, Howard McDiarmid. It was his inspiration and determination that created the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, which opened in 1971, forever preserving the natural beauty of this coast. And the Inn was initially his dream, too, so I can’t help but hope that, if he was still with us, he’d have been as proud of me as I am of him and the legacy his efforts helped to create.
Since that August day two decades ago, the Inn has undergone many changes, but its spirit of hospitality has never changed.
Only a year and a half after we opened, we became a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux association, joining some 400 hotels and restaurants in 45 countries throughout the world in upholding the “five Cs” – character, courtesy, calm, charm and cuisine. Over the years, we added the Ancient Cedars Spa, the Driftwood Café, the Beach Building and 30 new guest rooms and suites. We’ve hosted countless events, from the annual Pacific Rim Whale Festival to the Relais & Châteaux North American Congress. We’ve gone a little bit greener every year, our chefs have raised the bar a little higher, and we’ve worked with more and more of our local outfitters, artists and artisans – friends and neighbours all – to offer our guests more opportunities to explore and experience this beautiful place we call home.
We’ve had some pretty memorable moments along the way, from hosting beach weddings to riding out those dramatic February storms, and we’re sure you have, too. So we’re asking our guests to share their favourite Wickaninnish Inn moments with us. Please post your photos and stories on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #wickat20. We’ll gather our favourites in a Time Capsule this October and share them on our website and on social media. We can’t wait to see your memories!
Between now and then, we’ll be celebrating the Inn’s 20th anniversary in ways big and small. Won’t you come and join the fun?