A stunning Resort and Stormwatching on Canada`s wild West Coast
Original Article by Karl Heinz Limberg for KHL Lifestyle
Breathtaking Landscapes and Surfer`s Paradise
Do you know that feeling? You visit a place you have never seen before and you just think „Gosh - I could live here“. That was on my mind when I first came to Tofino, a little village on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Mystic rainforests, snow-capped mountains, long sandy beaches and the wild wild Pacific Ocean – heaven for cool young surfers (and a bit too cold for a swim unless you wear a wetsuit). It never gets really cold here but you may expect some rain (you will be rewarded with lots of green). The West Coast of British Columbia is the land of First Nations. Their gorgeous art shows their strong connection to their homeland. – I will get back to that later.
One of my favorite hotels is located right here – on one of the most beautiful beaches you will find on Canada`s West Coast. The Wickanninish Inn celebrates its 20th in 2016 – happy birthday, "Wick"! The success of this award-winning resort is definitely due to its charismatic owner and director, Charles McDiarmid who built this extraordinary hotel in perfect harmony with nature together with his father in 1996, right on a ledge, with the wuthering ocean just below. The Wick is part of Condé Nast`s "Gold List" which includes 142 luxury resorts worldwide – doesn`t that say it all?
Here`s what Charles has to say about his Hideaway...
"When we opened the Wickaninnish Inn 20 years ago on August 9th 1996 Tofino was a small town destination known mostly to a few intrepid travelers from Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver who came to visit almost exclusively in the summer months of July and August, a sophisticated year round destination resort town with a vibrant food scene and wide range of outdoor activity options we were not. While still a small town Tofino is today a year round destination and host to a wide range of travelers from around the globe including a great many visitors from Europe seeking amazing outdoor adventures by day and reveling in the thriving local food scene by evening highlighted by our boat to table seafood cuisine sourced from the bountiful waters of our own Clayoquot Sound destination."
"As a business the Wickaninnish Inn would never have survived as a year round resort destination resort if it were not for the wonder and success of Winter Storm Watching (November through February) which attracts travelers drawn to a quieter time of year but also a time of year when mother nature truly struts her stuff with howling 80 km/hour winds pushing waves up to 10 meters in height. Rain gear and boots provided to every visitor allow the opportunity to walk the miles of empty beaches even in the strongest squall yet returning to the prospects of a relaxing massage in our Ancient Cedars Spa followed by a fire side glass of wine in your room, gourmet meal in The Pointe Restaurant with open ocean and beach views dancing in full flight from every room and suite." I could not agree more with you, my dear friend Charles.
Breakfast with a View
I remember sitting in the Pointe restaurant with its 270 degree panoramic viewscapes looking out to Chesterman beach, the islands and the open Pacific, enjoying a marvelous breakfast, just watching the waves coming in. I was sitting there for hours, fascinated by the power of Mother Nature – until I was (politely) chased out by the nice waiters. Luckily – since what`s better than enjoying nature outdoors, in particular on a mild and sunny early fall day? Chesterman Beach is ideal for a little jog or doing some yoga – the fresh air of Canada`s West Coast purifies your lungs and mind at the same time – just awesome!
Anecdote from very loyal Guests...
"Although summer is truly our busiest season it is during Storm Season that we have most of our many time return guests who choose to return again and again to enjoy the pleasures of a destination that works its best magic when one chooses a path less travelled. Many of our return guests choose the very same room year after year and one couple in particular travel from central Europe on the same particular week each year, they always know the forecast better than we do (they swear it is the best storm time of the whole season, 3rd week of November) and know most of the team at the Inn on a first name basis. They always plan one night at the bingo hall with a couple of our staff in particular to soak up the small town flavor and get to know our many local characters and if there is a steak night on offer that week at the Legion Hall they never miss it either.""
Mystic Rainforests on Meares Island
Other than whalewatching, surfing (if you are fit enough ... ) and walking along the beach, hiking through the rainforests is definitely an activity not to miss. I can recommend a boat tour to Meares Island, just nearby. This uninhabited small island is full of mystic plants and trees which you can admire by walking on a wooden path. Giant trees of more than 1,000 years – just stunning.
Tips from a Local
"T’ashii’ is a Tla-o-qui-aht word meaning „path on land or on water". The vision of the paddle school is to create a path to learning and connecting with the natural environment through paddling.
I recommend the Meares Island Canoe Tour because you get to walk the trail trough the old growth forest with a Nuuchahnulth guide who will share about traditional relationships with living beings within that environment. At the same time, you can learn about the local history of active defence that has protected the island from logging."
Tsimka`s father, master carver Joe Martin, honoured by the BC Achievement Foundation, builds cedar canoes that are used for his daughter`s excursions. Joe`s traditional dugout canoes can be admired at the Wickanninish Inn – have a look and get inspired by his work!
We can learn so much from the Canada`s First Nations, respect for our environment and how to protect it. Good luck with all your endeavors, Tsimka!
A raving German Celebrity
A few years ago I had the pleasure of travelling with Katja Ebstein, a very well-known German entertainer, to this place. Katja is very much into nature and the culture of First Nations – no wonder she was raving about the area and the Wickanninish Inn:
"Canada has always been my dream country and I love the West Coast in particular, with all the abundant nature and the First Nation culture. I really enjoyed my stay at the Wickanninish Inn and will definitely return one day."
Not only you, Katja – same goes for me. And who knows, maybe I will decide to live in Tofino for a few months. I really would not mind ;-)!