A Luxurious Port in a Storm

By staff July 1, 2007

Crashing waves and misty rain just add to the appeal of Vancouver’s Wickaninnish Inn.


By Charlie Huisking


A room with a view

When you enter your room at the Wickaninnish Inn on Canada’s Vancouver Island, you find the amenties you’d expect in any upscale lodging: Aveda bath salts, high-thread-count sheets, thick, comfortable towels. But in the closet, you’ll also discover a bright yellow rain slicker, along with a note advising you that you can borrow a pair of boots from the front desk.


It rains a lot in this northwest corner of Vancouver Island. The inn is located near Tofino, just outside the boundaries of the Pacific Rim National Park, a stretch of pristine beaches and old-growth rainforests.


But the climate doesn’t keep people from coming to this ruggedly beautiful part of the world. In fact, the winter storm season is a hugely popular time at the inn, which stands on a rocky promontory in a grove of cedars and firs. Guests love to watch the waves crash against the rocks from the comfort of their rooms, or through the 20-foot-tall windows in the lobby.


City Slicker: A little rain never hurt anything.

The weather was relatively calm during my visit in June, though rain was falling. I happily slipped into the slicker and hiked along Chesterman Beach, admiring the driftwood scattered along the sand.


The Wick, as it is affectionately called, is regularly rated among the top hotels in North America by such publications as Conde Nast Traveler. The owners, a family with deep roots in Tofino, aim to provide luxurious surroundings with minimal impact on the environment.


 The 75 rooms and suites are located in two gray cedar buildings, the main inn and the newer Wickaninnish on the Beach, where I stayed. My room had a gas fireplace, a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the beach, a soaker tub in the stone-floored bathroom, and a balcony. Each guestroom has a hand-crafted driftwood chair.


Yet the public rooms in both buildings are so inviting that you’ll be eager to explore them. .I particularly loved the Driftwood Lounge, where you could sit by a wood-burning fireplace and enjoy coffee and pastries while staring at the Pacific. In the Lookout Library, you could peer at the ocean through a telescope.


The main inn is the home of the Pointe Restaurant, which offers 240-degree panoramic views, and the Ancient Cedars Spa. All the public rooms feature striking works in glass, stone and wood by local artists.


You can visit some of their studios in nearby Tofino, a funky town that is also the base for fishing trips and whale-and-bear-watching expeditions.  


It isn’t easy to get to the Wickaninnish Inn. Tofino is a four-hour drive from Victoria, the charming city that most Americans visit when they come to Vancouver Island. But it’s worth the trip—even in the rain.

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