An art-full vacation that’s perfect for the times
WORDS SUSAN LUNDY X PHOTOGRAPHY TODD BYRNES
The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn. With panoramic, 240-degree views of the Pacific Ocean, surrounding islands and wildlife, The Pointe Restaurant offers the very best in inspired West Coast cuisine and attentive service. Much of the fresh seafood is fished from the very waters overlooked by The Pointe, and a long-standing focus on locally sourced, high-quality ingredients is continually elevated by Executive Chef Carmen Ingham.
For a truly art-immersive experience, visit the Roy Henry Vickers Gallery in downtown Tofino.
Located in a traditional Northwest Coast longhouse with a carved cedar plank exterior and doors of beaten copper, the gallery is softly lit, and plays a backdrop of peaceful music, transporting visitors to a different world. The mesmerizing art of Vickers, a renowned Canadian First Nations artist, hangs on hand-adzed cedar walls among totem poles and carvings, and is a reflection of the area’s stunning beauty.
Take a guided hike with Long Beach Nature Tours. We met up with a tour guide at Pacific Rim National Park Kwisitis Visitor Centre and embarked on an absolutely fascinating, information-packed beach walk. The company, which was founded in 1996, promises to “pour our heart and soul into every tour; combining our expertise, knowledge and creativity into giving travellers the best adventure travel experience Tofino has to offer.” With a number of different wildlife tours, hikes and walks (even heli-hikes), this is definitely something to check out.
Chesterman Beach B&B offers three private suites at the edge of Chesterman Beach, and tucked into ancient grove of spruce and cedar trees. We stayed in the roomy two-bedroom Ocean Breeze Suite; there’s also the romantic Lookout Suite and cosy, one-bedroom Garden Cottage, set in its own private oasis. Recognized with TripAdvisor’s “Top B&B in Canada Award” and consistently rated as a preeminent Tofino accommodation, this is the spot to unwind in true west coast form.
I am lying on a massage table in the living area of an exquisite B&B in Tofino. Firm fingers knead my back, a sumptuous scent hangs in the air and a soft tune plays in the background, eclipsed only by the muffled roar of the ocean outside.
Months before staying at home was a “thing,” my husband and I embarked on a gloriously relaxing “home-away-from-home” vacation in the sea-swept town of Tofino. Amid the cosy, beachy elegance of Chesterman Beach Bed & Breakfast, we supped on a gourmet feast prepared in our own kitchen, relaxed in-house under the capable fingers of a massage therapist and enjoyed breakfast—delivered to our door each morning—on our own edge-of-the-sand patio. Here, surrounded by art, both actual and environmental, it felt as though we’d landed in a glorious, living motif.
As the world adjusts to life with COVID-19 and travel starts up again, a stay-at-home vacation might just be the answer. At Chesterman Beach B&B, guests come and go from their private entrances, cook their own meals and walk on an uncrowded beach just steps from the back door. Owners Lynda Kaye and Todd Byrnes will also, on request, shop and stock the fridge for guests, eliminating the need to venture to the grocery store. And finally, the company owned by our in-house chef—RedCan Gourmet—also offers full, delivered-to-your-doorstep feasts.
For our at-home dinner, chef Tim May set the bar high, preparing a swoon-worthy, multi-course spread of seared red albacore tuna with organic field greens; poached prawn salad with arugula, apple and cumin creme fraiche; braised chicken, spaghetti squash and rosemary jus; oven-roasted vegetables; and poached pear frangipani and vanilla chantilly.
The flavours harmonized like a symphony and Tim adeptly walked the line of staying in the background and yet answering our questions and describing his cuisine. RedCan Gourmet specializes in take-out, professional catering, weddings, daily menus and artisan pizzas.
As we feasted, we watched the sun set over the beach, the water on the sand reflecting the colours like a glass sculpture. Later, we joined the delightful Lynda and Todd at the outdoor fire pit and somehow found room to eat fireside s’mores. Later still, we slept amid silky crisp linen, satiated with good food, good company and the beautiful setting that embraced every sense.
The next morning, Lynda dropped off an absolutely divine breakfast-for-two and we sat outside at a weathered-wood table on the beachside patio. For our breakfast the next morning, Lynda delivered a box of delectable goodies from Tofino’s popular Summit Bakery. We ate these tasty treats inside, enjoying the suite’s artful touches, like the stunning Indigenous mask, a surfboard lamp, a beautiful old chest recreated as a coffee table and Todd’s evocative west coast nature photography.
One of our favourite spots in the cottage was a glassed-in solarium, where we reclined and relaxed on cushiony seats. There’s also a full kitchen, gas fireplace, two queen bedrooms and a spacious bathroom with a walk-in shower, massive tub and heated floors.
It was in this beautiful space that massage therapist Robert Kowatsch set up the following morning. His Nature Cycle Massage company offers in-home treatments, with the massage table delivered via bike and trailer. Robert provided an amazing massage and is definitely on my list as: repeat.
We arranged dinner on our second night to coincide with the sunset. Leaving our truck at the B&B, we set off walking down Chesterman Beach to the Wickaninnish Inn, which sits perched on the rocks at one end. As the sky blazed and the hues of red, orange and even purple deepened, it felt as though we were walking in a Roy Henry Vickers painting. We sat down at our ocean-side table at The Pointe Restaurant just as the sun dipped below the horizon. As we ate, the drama in the sky continued and the visual feast intertwined with the west coast flavours for a night of culinary theatre.
It marked the perfect conclusion to a home-away-from-home vacation that encapsulated artful living.
If you go:
Natural Cycle Massage: 250.266.1116