Travelers now have a new reason to explore the pristine natural playground of British Columbia. Coinciding with the reopening of the U.S.-Canada border, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge on Vancouver Island has debuted its latest $1.6 million makeover. The luxury adventure camp has always been iconic — and now, it has a fresh look, forest-to-fork fine dining, and a few fresh ways to experience the Pacific Northwest.
Set on the banks of an ocean inlet within the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of Clayoquot Sound, the property’s headlining feature is its spectacularly remote location. Since it’s only accessible by seaplane, boat, or helicopter (followed by an atmospheric ride in a horse-drawn carriage), arriving here feels like a true escape from everyday life. The surrounding old-growth rain forest, coastal mountains, and glacier-fed waterways are as biodiverse as they are culturally significant. With the region being home to three Indigenous communities — the Ahousaht, Hesquiaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, who have stewarded this land for hundreds of generations — you can’t help but feel a sense of history while hiking the secluded trails lined with ancient western red cedars, snorkeling with salmon, or marveling at wildlife such as bears, whales, and sea otters.
All of these elements served as inspiration for the property’s recent revamp, led by Australia-based hoteliers James and Hayley Baillie of Baillie Lodges, who took the helm with Denver-based KSL Capital Partners in 2019. If you’ve been to any of the couple’s outposts Down Under — namely, Silky Oaks Lodge in Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest, Longitude 131° at Uluru-Kata Tjuta, or Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island — you’ll immediately recognize their signature pared-back and cozy aesthetic with stylish nods to the unique geographic positioning.
Take Clayoquot’s 25 new luxuriously appointed guests tents, which feature bespoke furnishings from local designers, heated bathroom floors, outdoor cedar showers, knitted Bemboka robes and blankets, and thermostat-controlled cast-iron stoves. Moy Sutherland, an artist from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, was commissioned to create traditional bentwood boxes and accent bowls, while handwoven cushion coverings were made by local textile studio Cloth Tone using organic wool from Vancouver Island.
“James and I are both very passionate about being hands-on with the design and working with local artisans and producers. It’s a privilege to be able to seek out these partnerships,” says Hayley Baillie. “Everything encapsulates the place so that when you leave, you feel like you’ve been immersed in what this natural part of the world has to offer.”
Part of that immersion happens at the property’s Healing Grounds Spa, which has partnered with local wellness brand Beauty Through Balance to bring “Canadian thalassotherapy” to guests. A take on the traditional Greek seawater therapy, new treatments use regional raw ocean elements like hand-harvested Pacific seaweed and Canadian glacial clay to nourish the skin.
Nature’s bounty also inspires the ever-changing food and beverage menus, which spotlight locally foraged ingredients — from spruce tips harvested 60 feet from the kitchen to oyster and chanterelle mushrooms plucked from the forest. While dining in the expansive Cookhouse, it’s not unusual to hear executive chef Asher Blackford beam about his latest creations (like turning licorice fern root, which only grows on the moss of cedar trees, into a palate cleanser). One of his passions is working closely with the Ahousaht First Nation community and a mosquito fleet of fishermen to responsibly source freshly caught seafood, including halibut, octopus, scallops, and prawns. His latest focus is creating dishes to match the landscapes and guided experiences that guests can enjoy during their stay.
The wilderness is, after all, the star attraction — and here, there are countless ways to experience it. A typical day could include horseback riding, kayaking, rock climbing, heli-touring, or learning the art of bow and arrow through a natural archery range built into the rain forest. The canyoning excursion, which involves donning a wetsuit and traversing a river-carved rock system, is a must-do for any adventure enthusiast — and will certainly earn you a sundowner by the fire in the Ivanhoe Lounge or on the rooftop deck. Pro tip: Make it a Maple Bacon Sour to cap off a truly Canadian adventure.
Rates start at approximately $1,115 per person per night and include luxury tented accommodations, all gourmet dining, premium beverages, signature guided experiences, and one 60-minute relaxation massage per stay. Children six years and older are welcome. See more and book reservations here.
Julia Eskins is a Toronto-based writer and editor who covers travel, design, arts and culture, wellness, and the outdoors. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.