Posts Tagged ‘Spa’


Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

View from one of the rooms

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.

Lobby for the On-The-Beach Building

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.

Handcrafted Wood Pillars

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.

Wickaninnish Inn from the beach

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.

Beach Access

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

Amazing bathroom for the Canopy Room

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 at the Wickaninnish Inn

Double soaker tub with ocean view

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.

Staff nicely organized the closet for us

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.

Breakfast in bed

We also of course had to order breakfast in bed.

Enjoying the tub at the end of the day

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.

Ancient Cedars Spa

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.

Lounge of the Spa at night

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!

Ancient Cedars Spa Products

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.

Cedar Sanctuary (part of the spa) looking out onto the ocean

Side-by-side beds in the Cedar Sanctuary

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.

Time for some Ahhhhh at Spaaaaaa. Haha.

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.

Wines at the Pointe Restaurant

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.

Dining at the Pointe Restaurant

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.

Allan at the Pointe Restaurant

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.

Scallops and Dungeness Crab Appetizer

Grilled Octopus and Baby Shrimp Appetizer

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.

Crispy Sablefish with Braised Pork Belly and Citrus Sauce

For mains, I had a crispy sablefish with citrus, asian pear, bok choy in a szechwan pepper sauce with braised pork belly.

Lingcod with Fingerling Potato Chips and Cherry Tomatoes

Allan had the Lingcod with fingerling potato chips and chorizo sausage.

Quartet of Creme Brulee

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.

This way to the secret cove! Firepit at the Wick Beautiful pathway lights Art piece at the Wick... $85,000

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.

Allan surfing

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.

Private Summer Cabin for the McDiarmids

Hope you enjoyed the review!
The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn on Urbanspoon


Sunday, October 19th, 2008


Arriving at the Incheon National Airport in South Korea… and straight to the “Foreigners” Customs lineup.

Incheon National Airport in Seoul

Outside the airport waiting for a cab…

In the taxi cab on the way

Inside the taxi. The drivers there all wear white gloves, and speak very little English. The currency in Korea is the ‘Won’ which you can see on the taxi meter there.

Hotel Room at the Intercontinental COEX

Arriving at our hotel, the COEX Intercontinental in Seoul. It’s really nice. The “business” rooms we are staying in are large, and include internet and the amazing sauna with mineral pools, showers, different types of steam room etc etc… more on this soon.

Buffet at the COEX Intercontinental

The breakfast buffet is incredible. I think I ate way too much bacon.

Chefs preparing food @ the buffet

There’s always hot food coming.

Amazing drinks! Kiwi, grapefruit, guava, you name it!

Amazing drinks! Full on kiwi drinks, guava, pineapple, grapefruit… whatever you want…

Hall at Changgyeonggung

We decided to spent the free day we had in Korea in the district of Insa-dong, where we went sightseeing at some of the older and more traditional buildings. This area has three different palace grounds, but we only had time for one — Changgyeounggung.

Stone inscriptions at Changgyeonggung

Changgyeounggung, originally Sugangung was built by a Korean king in 1418 for his father. Unfortunately, it was completely destroyed several times in history by various Japanese invasions, and has been rebuilt several times. I can only imagine what it must have been like to walk the courtyards of the palace centuries ago…

Fall colours at Changgyeonggung

Fall is certainly in the air in Korea. The leaves are just starting to turn.

Stone wall around the Insa-dong area in Seoul

A lone rider making her way alongside the neverending wall.

Berries at Changgyeonggung

Fall berries in Korea.

A cow made of moss!

A cow made out of moss!

The Wall of Changgyeonggung

The gate has held out more than a few invaders in its time, of many kinds.

Fall colours around the pond at Changgyeonggung

A serene spot in the middle of a bustling city.

Bird at the Palace

Native Korean bird, that I’m not sure the name of.

Fall colours at Changgyeonggung

I love how in fall, each tree takes its time to change colours, and the result is a cascade of fall colours…

Fall colours at Changgyeonggung

A traditional Korean room… talk about no sound privacy!

Fall colours at Changgyeonggung

More fall colours at Changgyeounggung.

Post Pattern

Traditional Korean patterns on a stone post.

Hall at Changgyeonggung

The yin and the yang.

Latticed wood work at the palace

Beautiful wood lattice work on palace windows.

Trailing foliage

These leaves were prominent beside a monument in the center of the park, the Taeshil. It is a stone container that holds the placenta of the royal family living in the palace.

Lamp Post

Decoration on a lamp post.

Sweeping up Fall

Sweeping up Fall..

The Ibis Spa

One of the Vice Presidents of the video game company I work for asked my boss to take myself and my coworker to the Ibis Spa when in Korea. So generous! We headed there after sightseeing hoping it would help relax and renew us before work starts tomorrow.


The spa is very nice. We must wear somewhat “traditional” spa clothes, but not robes! You are then taken to the showers and mineral baths, and then to your massage room. We received a 90 minute full body massage that encompassed a variety of types, such as the thai sports massage, oil massage, face and feet. My boss (since he’s a man) also got to have the masseuse lady walk all over him. So neat! It really kicked our butts.

Mineral Hot Baths at Ibis

A relaxing mineral bath with bubbles at the end is a nice way to keep the muscles limber. The water is really hot, but is very clean and refreshing. What a great way to wind down the day!

Tomorrow, work starts, so it’ll be very busy again! Thanks to everyone for coming by and reading and leaving comments, it means a lot to me! :) I miss you all back home! <3

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