Why you’ll love the Wickaninnish Inn
Usually referred to as ‘The Wick’, the Wickaninnish Inn is one of Tofino’s best-loved hotels. It’s also one of the area’s most luxurious and is a member of the Relais & Chateaux luxury hotel group. Located on a rocky promontory at one end of Chesterman Beach and backed by old growth forest, this is the place to come to unwind and get away from it all; breathe in the fresh salt air, wander along the sand and watch the waves roll in.
One of my personal highlights from our stay were morning walks along the beach with our four-month old, when no-one else was around.
The original Wickaninnish Inn opened in 1964 but the hotel in its current incarnation (and address) opened in 2003. It’s a lovely hotel – not traditionally beautiful or luxurious but more like a cosy frontier lodge. The hotel was built using a post-and-beam and wood framed construction and the interiors were designed by local artisans and craftsmen. There are 75 guest rooms and suites, high-end dining is available at the Pointe Restaurant and there’s a luxury spa.
We stayed here for three nights and loved it. However, my one criticism is that the service can be very patchy. This is not uncommon in Tofino, a town where staff change with the seasons, however when you’re paying top dollar you expect top notch service and we felt let down a couple of times.
Why the kids will love the Wickaninnish Inn
My kids loved everything about the Wickaninnish. We arrived to find a fantastic goody basket waiting for them, one of the best kiddie surprises that we’ve ever received from a hotel. There were treats to keep (giant cookies and balsa wood airplanes) and toys on loan (nets for rock pooling, a book by Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr and buckets and spades). There was even a baby toy for our youngest.
The Wick supplies everything you could possibly need to make a family holiday comfortable including baby cribs, baby bathtubs, children’s raincoats and boots, board games and more. Not all of these are obvious, however, so it’s worth asking for anything you might need.
Highlights for our two eldest was the excellent scavenger hunt that took us on a fun and informative tour around the hotel and exploring the tidal pools, home to oversized emerald green sea anemones and plump starfish in shades of orange and purple.
For us, our favourite night was when the five of us enjoyed s’mores on the beach. The hotel provided all the necessary ingredients, started a small fire on the beach and we took it from there, burning marshmallows and dripping melted chocolate onto the sand as the sun set over the ocean. A holiday memory to last a lifetime.
The Wickaninnish Inn has 75 Rooms and Suites. It’s all about the views here and each room looks out towards the Pacific. Rooms on the higher floors definitely enjoy the best views. There are two buildings, ‘At the Pointe’ and ‘On the Beach’; the west-facing Pointe rooms are very private and are the best for watching the ocean during storm season. All rooms come with a small, private balcony. Rooms are divided into the following categories:
- Canopy Suite
- Chesterman Beach Loft
- Frank Island Suite
- Beachcomber Suite
- Beach Deluxe Rooms
- Premier Rooms
- Pointe West Deluxe
- Pointe South Deluxe
- Pointe East Deluxe
Best Rooms For Families: We took a Beach Deluxe Room on the ground floor, which featured two queen size beds, a double soaking tub and a balcony. We were two adults and three kids (one infant) and although we could all fit, it was a little cramped (we were going to splash out on a suite but the hotel was booked to capacity when we visited). Although conveniently located given that we had a pushchair, our forested beach view wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the views from the upper floors. Next time I would definitely opt for a room on a higher level.
The Wick’s fine dining restaurant, The Pointe Restaurant and On-the-Rocks Lounge, perch atop rugged rocks overlooking Chesterman Beach. Enjoy 240 degree views of the Pacific while enjoying breakfast, lunch or dinner. Located in the Beach building, the Driftwood Cafe is a more laid back affair and good for breakfast or a light bite during the day. We ate at the Driftwood Cafe a couple of times and the food was very good although the menu was a little limited…or so I thought! It was only towards the end of our stay when I was flipping through the hotel information book, that I came across the ‘Comfort Food for Kids of All Ages’ page that included a raft of dishes not on the main cafe menu including cheese burger and fries, fish and chips and ice cream sundaes. For Kids: As it turns out there is a kids’ menu but we didn’t realise that until the end of our stay. For breakfast there are plenty of child-friendly options including pancakes, which my son devoured. We tended to eat out for lunch and / or dinner and there are a lot of options in Tofino. Our favourite, hands down, was Sobu. I would go back to Tofino just to eat here – the food is incredible.
The hotel has bikes, including some kids bikes and there are plenty of places to cycle.
There’s a great scavenger hunt for kids that takes them around the hotel and its surroundings.
The Rainforest Beach Loop is a 10-minute walk through the ancient temperate rainforest surrounding the inn. Although short, it is really very pretty!
The Ancient Cedars Spa is very popular; signature treatments include a hot stone massage, a hot stone facial and the Hishuk Ish Tsawalk Awakening Treatment.
Daily yoga classes are held in the mornings.
WickKids is the hotel’s program for children and includes the following:
- Complimentary babysitting for children under 12 when their parents enjoy dinner at The Pointe Restaurant, based on availability.
- Babysitting services during Spa or Tofino outings starting at $10.25/hour for one child, and available for more WickKids, based on availability. **
- Kids basket in your room/suite upon arrival.
- A Scavenger Hunt, designed to take WickKids and an adult for some local discoveries around the Inn and the surrounding beach and forest.
- Kids Night Inn in-room movie night set-up.
- Children’s bicycles available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Beach toys for some sand castle (or Inn!) building.
- A selection of movies, board games, books and puzzles for innside fun.
- Child-sized bathrobes (everyone deserves some post-bath lounging!).
Rock pooling in the tidal pools on the beach kept our kids entertained for ours. Surfing lessons are available and, in town, there are various operators running bear- and whale-watching tours. We enjoyed this one.
**We tried to book a babysitter twice and were unsuccessful both times. If visiting during peak summer months, its best to request a babysitter at the time of booking.
A/C, babysitting available for an additional charge, common rooms, baby cots available, doctor on call, extra beds available, dedicated kids’ dining facilities, laundry, pushchair-friendly, shop, spa, travel desk, WiFi.
When to go:
Tofino is popular year-round. The summer months are when most people come but the winter months also see a good number of visitors arrive to watch the dramatic storms. The Pacific Rim Whale Festival, celebrates grey whales and marine life education and is held annually in March.
Location & Travel:
The Wickaninnish Inn is located in Tofino on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The hotel is located 4.8km (2.5 mi) before the town of Tofino. The Tofino-Long Beach Airport (YAZ) sits between the towns of Tofino and Ucluelet opposite Long Beach in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. A handful of charter carriers service Tofino including Orca Airways, KD Air and Kenmore Air. Flights from Vancouver take less than an hour. There are also flights from Victoria.
However, it’s actually more fun to drive. Ferries from Vancouver and the Gulf Islands run to Squamish, the ferry terminal near Victoria on Vancouver Island and to Nanaimo regularly. From Squamish is roughly a six-hour drive and from Nanaimo is takes around four hours. Ferry tickets can be booked via BC Ferries and you should definitely book in advance if travelling during the summer months. The drive along Route 4 from Nanaimo is spectacular and will take you through ancient forests, including Cathedral Grove where 800-year-old trees tower some 75m above you, small towns and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
1) Make sure you have s’mores on the beach! This was one the highlights or our stay.
2) Definitely, definitely eat at Sobu, in the centre of Tofino. I would return to Tofino just to eat here – the food is fantastic!
3) Don’t discount a visit during the winter months. The wild weather here during storm season is captivating – and the hotel has all the wet weather gear you might need!