Wind, waves, water, wilderness, wonderful food and West Coast warmth await you at the Wickaninnish Inn: if that doesn’t turn you on after your wedding, what will?
Our big day had been a huge success and even more spectacular than we thought possible. But apparently the best was yet to come… a room fit for a West Coast King and Queen welcomed my new husband and I to the earthly delights of the Wickaninnish Inn. When the door swung open, the lights were dimmed, candles were lit, the fireplace was on and romantic music was playing. Rose petals were scattered on the floor, over the bed, and in a bath that had been drawn for us in the double soaker tub overlooking the beach. Wow. And sitting on the table next to the fireplace was a bottle of champagne and a welcome card from Guest Services representatives, Emmanuel and Rheena.
Waves were crashing on the rocks below our balcony and the wind was howling. This was our idea of heaven.
Several hours earlier, on our drive here, we had accidentally drifted off course. “Nicole, I hate to say this, but shouldn’t we be in Ucluelet or Tofino by now? Or Port Alberni?” My new husband suddenly looked sheepish. Apparently he had unconsciously headed towards the site of his stag the week before instead of our honeymoon destination. I had been dozing since we docked in Nanaimo, but now, a few hours after we had driven off the ferry in Vancouver Island’s Departure Bay, I was wide awake. As we passed a sign saying Port Hardy – not Port Alberni – I decided to call The Wickaninnish Inn.
Cory at Guest Services was calm and gracious as we realized that we had been headed in the wrong direction for a few hours despite clearly marked signs. He kindly offered to change our dinner reservation at the Inn’s Pointe Restaurant to as late as possible. The staff at the Wickaninnish was clearly prepared to go above and beyond to “iron out any wrinkles” in the beginning of our marriage.
Upon our arrival, we were seated in the dining room while Emmanuel took our things to our room. We were brought two glasses of Blue Mountain Brut and ordered a dozen fresh oysters to share. I decided on the Ginger & Tamarind Glazed Sablefish and Paul asked for the Sloping Hills Pork. We both had a piece of each type of delicious homemade bread brought to our table, and the amuse bouche was fantastic. My sablefish and Paul’s pork dish were out of this world and we shared crème brûlée in several different flavors for dessert. A dish of decadent chocolate truffles arrived with our cappuccinos, accompanied by a piece of dark chocolate with the word “Congratulations” written on it in white chocolate.
Needless to say, this welcome put us in a wonderful mood and the rest of the week got better and better. There was a surf competition taking place – the O’Neill Coldwater Classic – down the beach; the restaurants in town – Shelter, Sobo, Schooner and others – were incredible; our couples massage at the Inn’s Ancient Cedars Spa was an out-of-body experience; the tasting menu at the Pointe Restaurant was gastronomically magnificent; and on days when the weather wasn’t exactly sunny, we had a perfect excuse to luxuriate in our romantic room.
We moved to the Chesterman Beach Loft Suite for our last night at the Inn. That meant Paul could do the one thing he’d been determined to accomplish while we were there – cook crab! It was a lot of fun and a delicious treat – thanks to the suite’s well-equipped kitchen. We even collected seawater to cook our 3 huge live crabs in. Yum.
I met with Charles McDiarmid, the Managing Director of The Wickaninnish Inn, the next morning for a guided tour. It’s impossible to stay at the Wickaninnish without being impressed by the incredible attention to detail around every turn. From the furniture and art pieces made by local artists, to the use of recycled wood to the way that every part of the place reflects its unique combination of awe-inspiring, wild surroundings and unmatched, sumptuous interiors. Did I mention that you can see the view from every place in the bathroom… even the shower? Our king bed was turned down every night, there were books and dvds in the library to borrow, countless indoor and outdoor areas to explore, and always someone willing and able to offer us anything we needed. It quickly became evident that creating the Wickaninnish Inn was a labor of love for Charles, his father and their team. As a result, the Wickaninnish is a truly magnificent Canadian destination.
Paul and I love to travel. We had spent time in Europe last summer, and I had just moved back to Vancouver from Toronto before we got married. But when the time came to plan our honeymoon, we both realized there was no place we’d rather go than Tofino… and definitely no hotel we’d rather stay at than the Wickaninnish Inn. The best part of it is that now I have the perfect excuse to suggest a stay there at least once a year… for our anniversary, of course.