My horse is ignoring me. Cash, a tall, lanky, chestnut-coloured mare, dips her head to taste sweet grass at a whim.
Her action jolts me forward nearly out of my saddle every time. Despite my pleas to move forward and keep up with Sammy, our horse wrangler and trail lead, Cash knows that I’m new at this horse-riding thing.
Before we headed out for our ride, I noticed a chalkboard. It listed the horses’ names and their corresponding Starbucks drink, if they were to drink coffee. Apparently, Cash is a “black coffee with a shot of whisky” kind of horse. I was in trouble.
Over the three hours of our ride through birch forests to an abandoned gold mine, we come to an understanding. I would let her stop and eat grass at will, as long as I made it back to Clayoquot Wilderness Resort alive. We both kept our part of the bargain. I count my first riding experience as an unqualified success.
Horseback riding is just one of many outdoor adventure experiences that guests can enjoy on a visit to Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. This luxury Relais & Châteaux property is the “land of firsts” for many visitors to the remote Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in the coastal temperate rainforest, 30 minutes from Tofino.
The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort operates for only five months of the year (mid-May to the end of September). In the tradition of great safari camps, the luxury guest and amenity tents are assembled, taken down and stored at the beginning and end of each season.
Guests travel from around the world to enjoy this glamping luxury in the wilderness. Many urban-dwelling couples and families have never experienced the view from a saddle, nor the rush of salmon fishing or seeing orcas in Bedwell Sound. For many guests, a visit here can be a truly life-changing experience.
GLAMPING IN STYLE
Glamping at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort reaches a whole new level of comfort. Each white canvas prospector tent is decorated with grand safari-style antiques that have been lovingly gathered from across Canada. Tents are heated with a propane gas stove. Each night, I snuggled underneath down comforters and handmade quilts in my comfortable king-size bed.
There are only 20 luxury guest tents at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Luxury ensuite bathroom tents have king-size beds, a full-size day bed, seating area and antique dressers. The ensuite bathroom contains a fantastic outdoor shower. Wash your hair underneath centuries-old fir trees, breathing in the fresh, cool air of the great outdoors. Raised and lighted cedar boardwalks connect all of the resort tents. I could hear the waters of Bedwell Estuary come in and out with the tide underneath my tent.
ADVENTURES IN THE WILD
The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort specializes in wilderness experiences on land and sea. Each evening, the resort’s activity directors discuss and plan the next day’s activities with each guest. The activity
plan depends upon weather, tidal charts, animal sightings and a guest’s age and spirit of adventure.
Activities include half- or full-day salmon fishing, ocean fishing, ocean and river kayaking, bear and whale-watching (in season), archery, target and range shooting, hiking, mountain biking and even waterskiing. All activities are included in the all-inclusive price of a three-, four- or seven-night stay at Clayoquot Resort.
Friendly, fully certified guides lead all Clayoquot Wilderness Resort adventures, including kayaking, salmon fishing, crabbing and river-rafting. Nothing prepared me for the adrenalin rush of my first salmon fishing experience in Bedwell Sound. While I’d hoped to reel in a prized silvery chum salmon of my dreams, a spiny rockfish occupied the end of my fishing line instead.
My disappointment was quickly forgotten when our guide Joel spotted several large black bears pawing rocks on the beach. The bears were searching for a mid-morning snack of crab. One young bear became spooked and climbed up a tree, setting up a flurry of camera clicks from our fishing party.
As in any all-inclusive luxury property, the resort provides all helmets, fishing gear, life jackets, rain gear, riding boots and whale-watching suits for all ages.
Clayoquot Wilderness Resort prides itself on offering the best coastal Cascadian cuisine of locally raised and grown products. This includes spirits and wine from British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.
The open kitchen in the cosy Cookhouse allows guests to see the chefs hard at work from morning to night. Executive chef Justin Witcher prepares an eight-course tasting menu that should not be missed. Local seafood such as salmon and shellfish are prominently featured, but there’s delicious meat on every menu too. If you happen to catch a salmon or crab during your marine adventures, the chefs will prepare your prize for dinner or pack it up for you to enjoy at home.
The continental breakfast bar opens early at 6:30 a.m. with freshly-baked breads and pastries courtesy of pastry chef Merri Schwartz (including several gluten-free options), cheeses, fruit, muesli and cereals. Guests can also order hot menu items such as pancakes, oatmeal and eggs benedict from the set menu. The choice and quality of the food options at any time of day in such a remote location is truly impressive.
A stay at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort offers travellers the ultimate combination of urban and wilderness luxury in beautiful British Columbia.
For more information, visit wildretreat.com or call 1-888-333-5405. Guests fly directly into Clayoquot Wilderness Resort via seaplane from the Seair Seaplane Terminal at Vancouver International Airport. Flights are included in resort accommodation reservations. Departures and arrivals are on Thursdays and Sundays.
Guests needing a stay in Vancouver can book the Luxury Gone Wild package at the historic Rosewood Hotel Georgia at either end of their travel schedules.