You can tell a lot about a luxury hotel by the way it greets its guests. You might expect a formal doorman to meet you at the curb.
That’s not the case at The Wickannish Inn, located on the Pacific coast of Vancouver Island, amidst towering cedar and spruce trees.
A smiling, wholesome staff member – you may wonder why he’s so cheerful – greets you at the edge of the rain forest, which happens to be at the entrance of the hotel. He escorts you through the hand-carved cedar doors to the lobby where your gaze wanders to the huge windows that look out on the churning ocean and wind-swept coast.
Then, you see them – surfers riding the waves – and you scrutinize the healthy-looking staff again. Ah, you guessed it. Perhaps he’s so mellow because he hit the waves in front of the hotel before coming to work.
Located on an idyllic and isolated coast, about 195 miles northwest of Victoria, on Vancouver Island,
The Wickaninnish Inn is a hybrid of Relais & Chateaux luxury and the rugged wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.
You can hike in a temperate rainforest in the morning and go bear or whale watching in the afternoon. Enjoy a sundown stroll before dinner on Chesterman Beach at the inn, a gorgeous stretch of almost 2 miles of white sand.
All 75 guest rooms boast huge picture windows with ocean or beach views, which can also be enjoyed from your private patio or your deep soaking tub inside the room.
All the small things
Every room also has a fireplace, heated flooring in the bathroom, duvet-covered beds, a hidden pop-up TV, binoculars and bird books.If you wish to sit on the balcony at night or walk the beach during a storm, you’ll find rain slickers and Hudson Bay wool blankets in the closet and rubber boots are available upon request.
Storm watching in the howling wilderness
During the winter months, many visitors come to watch the crashing waves. When you’re done, you can snuggle up next to your fireplace with a Pacific Northwest Pinot Noir and use the binoculars to watch for eagles.
Surfing is a year-round sport along the coast and lessons are available at a number of surf schools in Tofino, the nearby town. You’ll need a thick wetsuit in the winter, as water temperatures hover around a chilly 46 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vancouver Island boasts the warmest climate in British Columbia and Canada. Guests visit in the summer to get away from the heat and during the winter to escape the cold.
Every guest needs to indulge in at least one meal at the Inn’s Pointe Restaurant, which features a grand panoramic view of the ocean. Chef Warren Barr serves the freshest of Pacific Northwest cuisine, such as shiso cured spring salmon, smoked duck breast, prime rib cap steak, succulent oysters, spot prawns, Montreal smoked beef cheek, Dungeness crab, ling cod, and sable fish served with local chanterelles. The extensive wine list includes popular world regions, but also showcases superb B.C. and Pacific Northwest wines you probably can’t find at home.
Awards and Accolades
Among the many awards given to the The Wickaninnish Inn, it has consistently been ranked the #1 hotel in North America and #3 in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine. They justifiably deserve a place at the table among the world’s finest luxury hotels. And it’s just a short flight, less than an hour, from Victoria or Vancouver on Orca Air.
The stunning location, luxurious attention to detail, fabulous cuisine, and some of the best customer-service staff imaginable leaves guests making plans to return again soon.