The Wickaninnish Inn: Luxury on Canada's rugged Pacific Coast
Perched on the edge of the rugged Pacific Ocean, The Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, British Columbia is a landmark luxury resort and spa surrounded by 100 acres of untouched old-growth rainforest. A member of the exclusive Relais & Chateaux group of unique hotels and restaurants, its spectacular natural setting, exquisite cuisine and attentive service make The Wickaninnish Inn a gem of a place to stay. It’s an experience in luxury, West Coast style.
The road leading to the Wickaninnish Inn is lined with ancient sword ferns springing from black, rain-soaked earth. At the end of the road, nestled amidst the soaring western cedars and the lichen-laced sitka spruce, sit the two Wickaninnish wings: the At The Pointe, and the At the Beach. Once out of the car, the first thing I noticed was the forest-scented sea air filling my lungs.
An Orca whale on the double cedar doors carved in the First Nations style welcomes guests to the Wickaninnish At the Beach. The doors open onto a foyer revealing a floor-to-ceiling panorama of Chesterman Beach South. The cedar posts and beams framing the windows and throughout the Inn, carry the textures of the natural environment indoors to create a warm, relaxing and elegant space.
“Rustic elegance at the edge of nature” is the Wickaninnish’s credo. With such a soothing ambiance it’s easy to see why some guests want to spend their entire stay luxuriating in its peacefulness.
For those who come to luxuriate every room at the Wickaninnish has a beach or ocean view and individual patios. Most rooms feature double-soaker tubs in front of large picture windows with beach views. All rooms boast high, plush mattresses, gas fireplaces, heated stone floors in the bathroom and Bose stereos complete with chill CDs.
One of the more distinctive rooms at the Wick is The Chesterman Beach Loft Suite. It sleeps five and has a chef-designed kitchen where you can enjoy an intimate gourmet meal prepared for you and your family or friends. The Canopy Suite, is a one-of-a-kind with an astronomer-approved LED constellation of the summer solstice sky above the four-poster king-sized bed and a shower with seven different heads.
All the unique and engaging touches at the Inn can be directly attributed to one source: Charles McDiarmid, Wickaninnish owner and managing director. Charles is a life-long Tofitian with a great love of the surrounding natural environment and his community. This passion leads him to choose the finest quality sustainable products for the Wick. Everything from cabinets for flat screen TVs made custom from reclaimed Douglas Fir beams, to artisanal soap to soap dishes- Charles undoubtedly knows the artisans who created them.
The Ancient Cedars Spa in the Wickaninnish At The Pointe is another example of Charles’ commitment to excellence. Located on the beach level, the serene slate interior is infused with natural light from the panoramic windows facing the rugged black rock coast and crashing waves. The spa offers treatments of the season designed - and only available - for that specific time of year. Hot Stone Massage, Hot Stone Facial, Lomi Lomi massage, acupressure, facials, body treatments and yoga are just some of the deluxe treatments available at the Ancient Cedars.
Also found in the At The Pointe, is the celebrated The Pointe Restaurant. The Pointe Restaurant’s warm, cedar-framed round room juts over craggy black rocks surrounded by swirling surf. A window seat insures an ideal spot for a romantic evening of storm watching while sipping the best in BC wine.
Known not only for the beauty of its interior, The Pointe Restaurant showcases sustainable and local Pacific West Coast cuisine with a menu that changes four to six times a year to reflect the changing seasons. The wine list draws heavily from the best in BC wineries including Blue Mountain Winery in the Okanagan.
The fall menu features a wonderfully fresh albacore tuna tartare starter with heirloom tomatoes and a hint of crisp mint. The pan roasted sablefish with lobster mushrooms and burnt onion crumble was as delicate as it was flavourful. The Wickaninnish’s The Pointe Restaurant is the ideal spot to explore the West Coast’s burgeoning cuisine and the bounty of fresh, seasonal products available.
Beyond the fabulous cuisine and beautiful interiors and exteriors, the thing that makes the Wick come alive and stand out is the excellent quality of the people who work there. As a group, they are confident and strive to achieve high standards yet they remain open, approachable and friendly. They were always happy to discuss all the great things to see and do in Tofino.
For guests interested in exploring Tofino and the UNESCO Clayoquot Sound biosphere reserve, there’s a dizzying amount of activities available. The Wick furnishes guests with complimentary bicycles, rain gear and binoculars for exploring the immediate area around the resort.
Tofino is a first-rate surfing destination and a jumping off point for fishing tours, hiking, whale, bear and eagle watching, kayaking and more. All of these excursions can be arranged through the Wickaninnish.
The Wickaninnish Inn has succeeded in combining a celebration of the natural environment with ultimate pampering and relaxation to create an unforgettable West Coast experience. I’ll definitely be back.