Morning has broken at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge on Vancouver Island’s remote west coast.
From the deck of my canvas tent I watch half a dozen people in kayaks and stand-up paddleboards glide past, the calm water of the Bedwell River estuary reflecting the mountains and trees around them.
Sitka, a black mutt, has taken up his usual position on the grass overlooking the estuary.
And now, here comes the mother merganser that I spot every morning with six red-headed chicks hitching a ride on her back as she swims against the current.
In this wild little corner of Canadian paradise, all is well.
Yet, before arriving, I was dearly afraid it might not be.
You know how it feels to return to a much-loved place and find it a little less lovely than what you remembered?
Perhaps the big or little changes that resorts often undertake to “elevate” the guest experience push it into unwelcome territory.
I first visited Clayoquot Wilderness Resort in 2008 for a women’s only fly-fishing weekend and found it both delightfully rustic and luxuriously comfortable — a difficult balance to capture.
I didn’t catch any fish that weekend, but I fell in love with this off-the-grid property and all it offered — horseback riding through old growth forest, flying by float plane to an alpine lake to fly fish for trout, reading by the outdoor fireplace on comfy couches, watching for bald eagles while soaking in the hot tub, and sleeping in a tent that contained a real bed topped with a feather duvet.
Gratifying too, was knowing the place was so wild that black bears were as much a part of it as the dogs that staff kept to send the bruins on their way. In fact, that weekend a bear clawed his way into The Cookhouse one night and wreaked havoc.
So when I learnt that this iconic Canadian retreat had been bought by an American investment firm and was being managed by Australian luxury hospitality company Baillie Lodges, I worried.
Read the full story here.
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