It’s not often that one sheds a tear when saying goodbye to people who were strangers only four days earlier, but when leaving Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat on Vancouver Island I found myself doing just that. The strangers (both staff and fellow guests) had become like family instantly and whilst four days at this incredible resort feels like a lifetime, it flew by all too quickly.
We arrived in the most thrilling way by seaplane over some of the world’s most unspoilt and stunning scenery. Thousands of feet up one can see mountains covered in a green blanket of pine trees and rivers that will soon be filled with leaping Chinook Salmon, all encompassed by rainforests inhabited by grizzly and black bears, deer and cougars. A smooth landing brought us to paradise where the floating dock was lined with smartly dressed, smiling staff. A wagon drawn by two horses driven by Stetson clad wranglers waited to take us to the heart of the resort. This is Canada at its best. Within minutes of arrival our children disappeared to explore their new outdoor playground complete with mountain bikes, trampolines, a pool table, chess and board games and a stable full of horses.
The all-important orientation was given soon after we arrived, with guests on the velvet sofas around a roaring fire sipping a very welcome drink. Then came the highlight as we were shown to our new home – a magnificent tent complete with king bed, wooden floors, a thermostatically controlled gas stove, outdoor rainforest shower, flushing loo and underfloor heating. The heart of the resort is the Cookhouse, throbbing with chefs at work in the open kitchen where the clanging of pots and pans is drowned out by the gentle sounds of local music and the chatter of happy guests. This is the only area of the resort which is Wi-Fi free and, therefore, a very social environment. The food that emerges from this kitchen is staggering in both quantity and quality – all created with local, fresh ingredients and if what you want is not on the menu, you simply have to ask. Jars of cookies and sweets line one end of the bar, which typically is where the kids hang out, and at the other end is any wine lover’s paradise housing a vast array of fantastic BC wines carefully selected by the resident sommelier – all a closely guarded secret and not for export.
There is one tent which most adults will ensure their children avoid as it contains a flat screen TV, set for a rainy day or possibly an unmissable sporting event. This is usually where our kids would have run straight to, but there was so much to distract them that they didn’t enter this tent once in the entire four days.
Daily activities include a seemingly endless menu of zip-lining, rock climbing, ocean kayaking, river kayaking through the gentle rapids, exhilarating rides in a 250 horse powered RIB for whale and bear watching, paint-balling, archery, clay and rifle shooting, mountain biking, hiking, paddle boarding and riding. Seven days is a must if you want to do everything and still fit in some relaxation in the hot tubs, enjoy a spa treatment in the riverside spa tent or simply read a book or two on your private deck – or one of the many sun loungers dotted around the grounds. The more adventurous can even book the Cloud Camp for a night, where a luxury tent has been erected on a mountain summit a few thousand feet high, beside a lake with uninterrupted views of Clayoquot Sound.
This is good, wholesome fun and what dreams and memories of happy family holidays are made of. It’s no wonder that guests return year after year and if you haven’t booked by October, there’s little chance of finding space for the following summer. As we were told on arrival, “step out of your comfort zone” and believe me, once you have you return feeling so good about yourself and with a new perspective on life. This is quite simply what holidays should be, but rarely are. Live the dream before it’s too late.
If you want to find out more about Clayoquot Wilderness Resort and Canada contact Red Savannah's travel specialists on 01242 787800.