By Claudia Laroye
The remote Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere reserve is the home of some of the world’s only remaining coastal temperate rainforest. This sensitive ecosystem shelters a unique biodiversity shaped by the last ice age. In this challenging location, the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort has established a luxury, all-inclusive resort operation, while incorporating a strong sustainability commitment to preserve its unique surroundings and operate in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is located in this pristine reserve area, at the mouth of the Bedwell River. It’s a 30-minute boat ride from Tofino, on British Columbia’s most western coast on Vancouver Island. The remote wilderness is a wonderful world away from the stress and pressures of urban life, yet the resort manages to bring Relais & Chateau luxury to its guests in the most sustainable way possible.
In recognition of the sensitive surroundings and the elements, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort operates for only five months of the year (mid-May to 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.
Luxury Wilderness Experiences
Glamping at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort reaches a whole new level of comfort. Each white canvas prospector tent is decorated with grand, safari-style antiques – the ultimate in luxury recycling – that have been sourced from across Canada. Many of the wooden beams and structures have been locally made from sustainable hardwood.
There are only 20 luxury guest tents at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Luxury Ensuite Bathroom tents have king sized beds, a full-sized day bed, seating area and antique dressers. The ensuite bathroom contains a fantastic outdoor shower, where you can wash your hair underneath centuries-old fir trees. Raised and lighted cedar boardwalks connect all of the resort tents. I could hear the waters of Bedwell Estuary wash in and out with the tide underneath my tent.
The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort specializes in wilderness experiences on land and sea. Activities include half- or full-day salmon fishing, ocean and river kayaking, horseback riding, bear and whale-watching (in season), archery, target and range shooting, hiking, mountain biking and even water-skiing. All the activities are included in the all-inclusive price of a 3-, 4- or 7-night stay at Clayoquot Resort.
In partnership with local first nations, the resort works with the Ahousaht people as invaluable staff and guides for its many wilderness adventures. They also work together to restore the land and share the Ahousaht’s ancestral legacies with visitors from around the world.
One of the most important local partnerships is rejuvenating the local ecosystem. The resort has spent more than a decade and millions of dollars rehabilitating miles of local salmon spawning grounds. Wild Pacific salmon populations are drastically declining on the coast, as salmon fight environmental pressures such as overfishing, disease, ocean and river warming, loss of habitat and a reduction in food sources. The resort’s partnerships have proved to be a highly successful example of privately lead fish restoration efforts. During the fall spawning season, it is possible to view and even swim with the spawning salmon as they make their final journey to their home waters.
As the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is a Relais & Chateaux property, the quality of food and drink must be of the highest standard. The resort prides itself on offering the best Cascadian cuisine of locally raised and grown products. This includes spirits and wine from British Columbia’s Okanagan valley.
Resort Chef Justin Witcher is committed to buying ingredients from local growers, producers, foragers and farmers to the best extent possible. Tofino has a rich and growing community of artisanal and traditional suppliers, whose offerings, together with the traditions of the Nuu-Chah-Nulth First Nations, contribute to CWR’s world-class food and beverage program. Raised organic garden beds and a greenhouse supplement the Cookhouse kitchen and pantry.
By necessity, human activity creates waste. An energy-efficient 10,000 bio-wheel waste treatment facility manages all liquid and solid waste from storm and wastewater systems as well as kitchen drains and grease traps. The system combines advanced contained biological processes with mechanical aeration. Microorganisms reduce inputs to totally clean, pure, potable water, and a very small amount of fertilizer-quality solids.
Recycling and composting are particularly challenging for a remote outpost surrounded by curious bears and other wildlife. Ensuring that wildlife doesn’t become habituated to easy human food sources is a constant challenge for many communities in British Columbia, including Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Fortunately, the local wildlife in Bedwell Sounds is naturally well-fed, so the temptation to pillage garbage is mitigated.
Nonetheless, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort maintains strict recycling and composting policies to reduce and recycle with a light footprint, without attracting unwanted animal attention. Non-organic garbage is separated into containers and held in a closed bear-proof container until it can be picked-up by a recycling truck brought in from Tofino on the resort barge (formerly an army landing craft).
Organics are fed into a large cylindrical commercial composter, known as a BIOvator. This multi-million dollar agricultural machine can handle up to 350 pounds of organic matter and excess barn waste daily. The output from the composter is beautiful, black compost suitable for return to resort produce gardens and landscaped areas.
Eco-conscious guests seeking sustainable resort operations alongside the ultimate combination of adventure and wilderness luxury will find it in beautiful British Columbia, at the impressive Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.
Claudia Laroye is an adventurous traveller and writer based in Vancouver, Canada. Claudia has written for a variety of online and print publications, with a focus on family and wellness travel. In addition to travelling with her family, she enjoys pineapple margaritas, guacamole and chocolate. Her future travel goals include Botswana, Japan and Peru. Read more of Claudia’s work here.