Wickaninnish Shines Gold on the West Coast
Original Article by Lindsay Eason for Green Tourism Canada
Our latest Green Tourism member to be certified Gold is Wickaninnish Inn, located on the furthest Western Coast of Vancouver Island in Tofino, BC.
The Inn sits on a rocky point, perfectly connecting the rugged coastal forest with the golden sands of Chesterman Beach. While visiting the resort for their assessment, Darrrell and I began our tour of the Wick on the Rainforest Loop. Sunlight beamed through the ancient cedars while Salal bloomed around us.
We found the Carving Shed, a place where local artists can use the co-operative tools owned by Henry Nolla, the late mentor to a growing community of carvers. The Carving Shed gives guests a chance to talk to and witness artisans at work, and we were lucky enough to talk to “Feather” George Yearsley. The Carving Shed faces the beach, where Sandpipers darted back and forth as the tide rolled in.
To me, this view captured the importance of honoring the unique West Coast culture and nature. Indigenous groups have lived on this land for 10,000 years. Charles McDiarmid reflected ,“there is a National Park on our doorstep with old growth forest and the largest ocean in the world. If you don’t feel something [while you’re here], you’re probably not in the right place. “
Wickaninnish Inn has always had a strong affinity with nature. The McDiarmid’s family was instrumental in creating the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve in 1971, which is now within a UNESCO Biosphere. The original Inn became the Pacific Rim Visitor’s Center and the current Wickaninnish Inn became a reality in 1996, ensuring each guest room offers panoramic views of the ocean.
The resort’s minimal footprint started when the original building plans were adjusted to keep as many trees as possible. Many of the trees that did get cleared became distinctive features as hand-carved beams, which adorn the building from top to bottom.
Reducing the resort’s environmental footprint is always top of mind. Management has been focused on installing of energy saving technology including LED lighting (90% converted to low-energy use lighting), on demand boilers, insulated water pipes and retrofitting Energy Star-rated equipment. Water conservation is paramount in Tofino and the hotel has many low flow taps, toilets, showerheads and equipment. They have reduced their use of chemicals in housekeeping and promote a linen reuse program in guest rooms.
The Wick does a wonderful job of combining luxury with sustainability, an impressive, yet challenging balancing act. “We want to save money, help the environment and provide a great experience for guests,” said Charles. This masterful combination, along with the high quality service of The Pointe Restaurant, aided their inception as a Relais & Châteaux property.
Speaking of the Pointe Restaurant, our day at the Wickaninnish Inn ended with lovely fresh seafood, exquisite delicacies and BC VQA wine, followed by an evening stroll along the beach.
Visiting Wickaninnish Inn is an experience in itself, and the sustainability aspect is a given once you understand what it feels like to be on the West Coast. While sustainability is woven throughout the hotel, there is always room to continue striving for excellence. By uniting the passion within everyone who visits and works at the Wick, they will forever strive to protect and enhance this magical place.