This past weekend Allan and I headed out to Tofino again for some surf and relaxation. This time however, we were invited to stay at the famous Wickaninnish Inn. “The Wick,” as it is affectionately called by locals and fans, is well-known for its fabulous location on Chesterman Beach, luxury accommodations, world-renowned spa, and five-star dining. No wonder — it’s a Relais & Châteaux property. I also found out a little interesting tidbit from some folks in town which confirms my theories… the Twilight Cast stayed there while they were shooting New Moon. The Inn cannot comment on this of course due to privacy issues, but you can be sure I did as much digging as possible on the subject from the locals.
The Wickaninnish Inn has long had ties to the area and the Pacific Rim National Park. It is family-owned and operated by the McDiarmid family who were born and raised in Tofino. You can read more history on the Inn here.
When you arrive, what strikes me most about the property (and what staff seem to be most proud of) is how the Inn sits on the fine line between the ocean and old growth forest. Compared to most other properties in Tofino and BC, the Inn does an incredible job of preserving the natural surroundings. Every single room has an ocean and beach view, but not at the expense of chopping down the old growth trees in front of the window. When you lie in bed and look out the window, you feel a little bit like you are floating somewhere between ocean and forest.
You can tell that Managing Director Charles McDiarmid spares no expense with his attention to detail. Every room has pieces of nature integrated into the decor, from the driftwood chairs to the solid rock bookends. Every piece of wood in the rooms and around the hotel is hand-crafted and custom made, including the moldings in the rooms, the closets, the doors, bedframes, desks… it’s really something to see.
And all with a focus on sustainability without it being a trend. Claire Macdonald, Marketing Planner for the Inn, spearheads many of the projects herself. The Pointe Restaurant at the Inn actually composts 100% of all its food waste. Claire also organizes frequent beach cleanups with the Surfrider Foundation in Tofino.
The Canopy Room is one of the fanciest rooms in the Inn, with a gorgeous canopy teak bed, living room, plasma TV, multi-jet shower and double soaker tub. Not to mention a great view. I hear it is the celebrity choice when staying at the Inn.
Our room was awesome too. A deluxe top floor room at the Inn, we enjoyed the King bed, local artwork, double soaker tub, and glass panel shower looking out onto the ocean.
The service was great too — all our bags and personal items were organized in the room and the closet. The huge closet also held complimentary rain gear and gumboots. Definitely a plus for storm watching in Tofino.
We also of course had to order breakfast in bed.
Yeah, after surfing Allan and I spent quite a lot of time in our double soaker tub looking out onto the ocean. I’ve probably never felt so relaxed in my life. Honestly.
Of course, I had to try the spa while I was there. The Ancient Cedars Spa is probably one of the most talked about parts of the Inn. It has won so many awards it’s crazy, including being reader-voted as the World’s Best in Travel + Leisure magazine.
The real shame here is that I had to take photos of the Spa after hours, so unfortunately I couldn’t capture how beautiful it is with the natural light streaming in and the ocean views. So bear with me!
Every aspect of the Spa is beautiful… from the wood carved handles on the lockers in the shower rooms, to the huge wood burl mirrors and tables. They also carry a really unique line of spa and beauty products, many from Vancouver Island and BC. Many influenced by the ocean and nature.
They also have an incredible (you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it-kind-of-thing) Cedar Sanctuary where you can get treatments done… in a beautiful cedar house literally looking onto the ocean. Imagine having a massage while the ocean is spraying up in front of the windows… wow! All guests also have access to the Rainforest Sauna… which smells exactly like… the rainforest. So nice.
I decided to go for a massage treatment at the Spa. When I showed up, I was offered refreshing citrus water and tea, and shown to my hand-carved locker in the ladies room. I popped into my robe and slippers and enjoyed a steam in the Rainforest sauna for a while.
Then I was shown to a beach chair outside overlooking the ocean, given a warm blanket and a hot foot soak with pebbles in the bottom to roll my feet over. After an aromatic consultant and some time to relax while taking in the ocean breeze and the view with some hot tea, I was shown to my treatment room. Each of their certified professionals must have over 1000 hours of experience before they can work at the Inn, and my masseuse was no different. A wonderful woman with an amazing background (she previously worked in the advertising industry at notables such as Ogilvy and Mather), she worked her magic on me for an hour. I was completely relaxed. So, “Ahhhh at the Spaaaaa” gets a very relaxed thumbs up from me. You must read about the treatments there.
Of course, our experience wouldn’t have been complete without having dinner at the Pointe Restaurant. We had eaten here before so we knew it was going to be good, and we were looking forward to trying some new dishes.
The restaurant overlooks Chesterman Beach and is situated at a rocky point, which causes dramatic sprays of water and the sounds of waves to accentuate your dining experience. You must visit the Inn during storm-watching season (late Fall and Winter), as that is when the waves are the most dramatic. Believe it or not, that’s the coolest time to come to the Inn and see the power and wildness of nature. We always make sure to visit Tofino at least once a year during this time. Anyway — back to the restaurant — they also occasionally mic the waves underneath the restaurant during a storm for the full effect.
Chef Nutting was in the kitchen that night, and put together some amazing dishes for us. Unfortunately I’ve recently found out about some allergies (egg, dairy, wheat… which feels like everything), but the chefs did an amazing job of working around the allergies. Allan got an amazing selection of bread (including olive and chorizo bread), and I was surprised to see I was also going to get bread… some delicious grilled rice bread and pappardum.
I had a mojito, and Allan tried a sidecar and a Manhattan.
For appetizers, I had the scallops with dungeness crab, pine mushrooms, and a chicken jus. Allan had the grilled octopus with baby shrimp, cherry tomatoes, foccacia croutons, pancetta vinaigrette, and watercress.
For mains, I had a crispy sablefish with citrus, asian pear, bok choy in a szechwan pepper sauce with braised pork belly.
Allan had the Lingcod with fingerling potato chips and chorizo sausage.
I finished off the meal with homemade blueberry sorbet, and Allan had a quartet of creme brulee — vanilla bean, saffron, strawberry, and dark chocolate. I think I’m going to steal that idea for my party coming up. Some homemade truffles came at the end as well, with honey and thyme. Mmmm.
We explored the property a bit the next day before leaving. The Inn has built so many amazing boardwalks, trails, and paths around the area. We found out they shot some of the scenes for New Moon on Long Beach, and also right on the beach in front of the Wick!
And of course, we made sure to get our surfing in.
And that wrapped up a fantastic long weekend at the Wickaninnish Inn. If you haven’t already, check out the website… you must check out the restaurant menu, the accommodations, and definitely the spa treatments. The Wick is a fantastic place for a romantic getaway, a surfing weekend, a mother-daughter or girlfriends pampering experience… or just because. They’ve got some awesome deals coming up for the stormwatching season and the O’Neill Coldwater Surf Classic, so check those out.