Nature is the focus of these Vancouver Island retreats



The Aerie resort


The Aerie Resort, a luxury mountain retreat about a 30-minute drive from Victoria, offers jaw-dropping views of Finlayson Arm.


Walk into the lobby of the Wickaninnish Inn and it hits you smack between the eyes: The view. It’s incredible.

The architects of this luxury resort, located near the town of Tofino on the far western edge of Vancouver Island, have fashioned a theatre screen-sized picture window as the focal point of the lobby, and the dramatic view of the Pacific Ocean is so captivating you can hardly tear yourself away to check in.

Wickaninnish Inn

Guest rooms at “the Wick” feature dramatic views

Once you do, you’ll find that most of the guest rooms also have the same amazing view. Of the 75 rooms in the “Wick,” even those offering what the staff calls “limited views” have big picture windows that reveal the live action starring nature.

While the view from the lounge and treatment rooms at the Ancient Cedar’s Spa is somewhat less fantastic, enjoying a massage-a-deux from the Cedar Sanctuary, a private cedar cabin with two treatment tables and a deck overlooking the waters, puts you up front and centre and leaves no doubt that the crashing of waves you hear is not piped-in sound effects but the real thing dashing against the black molten rocks just outside the door.

I’ve booked the Lomi Lomi partially because it’s one of the Aveda spa’s signature treatments, but mostly because the massage techniques mimic waves. It seems fitting.

So is a walk or jog along the wide expansive beach that’s exposed when the tide’s out. There is a sense of rebirth and healing when one is wrapped in luxury this close to the sea.

My recent 10-day trip to Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands was peppered with many scenic awe-inspiring moments.

For instance, not far from the Wickaninnish Inn in the town of Ucluelet, a loop of the Wild Pacific Trail affords a virtual image book of panoramic seascapes and rugged shorelines.

The Wickaninnish Inn near Tofino on Vancouver Island

Another jaw-dropping view is the one from The Aerie Resort, a luxury mountain retreat about a 30-minute drive from Victoria. From every vantage, this 23-room, Mediterranean-style inn allows guests to gaze out on the pristine view that is The Aerie trademark — Finlayson Arm, a wide ribbon of water embracing the rolling humpback hills of Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula. In the distance are the snow-capped Olympic Mountains.

This nature-blessed setting is a balm for the mind and a boost for the spirit. With the resort’s dining room open to the public for lunch and dinner, there is as much here to please the palate as the eye.

On Pender Island, one of many Gulf Islands scattered around Vancouver Island, Poet’s Cove Resort & Spa overlooks the postcard-pretty Bedwell Harbour, the marina and Mount Norman with a trail that’s said to be the best hike on Pender

Island. Climb to the summit for another rewarding vista.

In Victoria, my favourite outdoor scene is the harbour view from Lure Seafood Restaurant & Bar at the Delta Ocean Pointe. Sitting here over breakfast, I’m watching the animation around what must be Canada’s prettiest city harbour, in what’s purported to be “Canada’s fittest city.” Colourful watercraft glide in and out of the harbour, a gaggle of Canadian geese parade along a clipped carpet of grass, several people jog along the waterfront path, while a couple tall palm trees (yes, palm trees) make you feel as if this could be a place further south.

The scene is ever-changing and captivating and if you’re not careful, breakfast can easily turn into brunch. Bonus: the food is great and, taking a cue from the in-house spa, there are plenty of health-focused dishes to enjoy while feasting on the view.

Anne Dimon is a spa and wellness travel writer and found/editor of, the online magazine for the wellness-minded traveller.

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