I should probably have debuted on the Luxury Travel Blog with this BS story. Because who can know Beautiful British Columbia better than a resident of this very Beautiful British Columbia? (“Beautiful British Columbia” is written on the license plates of our cars. So we officially live in a beautiful province, and you can’t argue with that, in general).
If you look at the map, then we are located so far to the west that after us only the east. And the mysterious Pacific Ocean.
Nevertheless, getting to Vancouver from Moscow is no more difficult than getting to Bali or Mauritius: we have direct flights from Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, and in the summer from Munich and Dusseldorf. Time in the air – about 9 hours. It remains to figure out why to fly to us.
For a Russian traveler, Canada in general and British Columbia, located on the Pacific coast in particular, are terra incognita, the land of the unknown. Let’s check?
For example, did you know that contrary to popular belief about Canadian colds, the winter temperature in Vancouver rarely drops below five degrees, and snow does not fall much more often here than in Florence?
Or – have you heard that the Okanagan Valley, located 300 km east of Vancouver, is famous for its extensive vineyards, wineries, cherry, apricot and peach orchards?
Did you know that Whistler-Black Comb (two hours from Vancouver) has the largest ski area in North America?
Have you heard of the five-star barge hotel King Pacific Lodge and the equally five-star Clayoquot campground?
… Talking about British Columbia is easy. It’s harder to choose where to start (because almost everything will be new to you), and even harder to stop (because you can talk for hours, and this obviously won’t fit into the blog format).
The season is in full swing and the skis are covered until November, so let’s start with fishing, bears and whales. So with the King Pacific Lodge – a truly unique tourist “product”, which hardly has analogues in other parts of the world, and for which (even if there was nothing else here) it already makes sense to fly over the ocean.
The King Pacific Lodge is a barge that anchors in an ocean bay off Princess Royal Island in northern British Columbia from May to October. For many kilometers around – The Great Bear Rainforest, the largest array of untouched rainforests on earth. In addition to the small black bears familiar to us Canadians (what a surprise – these guys are frequent guests in the city limits of cosmopolitan Vancouver), King Pacific Lodge also has more intriguing neighbors: black wolves, cougars, giant grizzlies and the mysterious Kermode ghost polar bears.
The real owners of these lands are the Gitga’at Indians, who have inhabited the nearby islands for the past two thousand years. The nearest Indian settlement to the lodge is a 45-minute boat ride.
In these places “you can only fly by plane” – driving a car to the bear kingdom is physically impossible. Guests are transported from Vancouver to Bella Bella by private jet and from there to the lodge by seaplane. The lodge has only 17 rooms, it is in huge demand, so you need to book well in advance. Stays for 3, 4 or 7 nights. You will not need heavy luggage with you: the package includes not only all forest and sea adventures accompanied by instructors, food and drinks, but also a complete set of equipment for all these adventures.
Now imagine yourself with a glass of fine wine in an elegant wood-panelled living room, in front of a burning fireplace, and for miles around your floating spot of luxury and sybaritism – only bear forests on one side and the ocean on the other.
One of the attractions is heli-in fly-fishing on a mountain stream… if you’re lucky, in the company of grizzly bears. Is it safe? Under the supervision of an instructor who knows the habits of these far from peaceful natives – absolutely. The bears don’t mind the neighborhood of the fishermen… as long as they don’t try to take their catch out of the river. Agree, even if the catch has to be left to the bears, such extraordinary fishing will be remembered for a lifetime.
Fishing is, of course, one of the main activities at the lodge. Both ocean and river. For lovers of this sport – a real paradise and a guaranteed impressive catch. In the ocean, there is an abundance of chinook salmon (weighing up to 25 kg), coho salmon, halibut, cod. For fishing “overlap” – again cod, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout.
In September, humpback whales swim very close to the lodge, and you can listen to the nocturnal sighs of sea giants as a lullaby, cozying up in your luxurious “five-star” floating bed for the coming night… An impressive lullaby…
King Pacific Lodge is part of the luxurious Rosewood Hotels chain, has been awarded The Best Resort in Canada by Condé Nast for the past three years, and is part of the prestigious Virtuoso Best of the Best collection. Privately owned: the wealthy Japanese Morita family, who made their fortune producing high quality sake.
Many famous and very famous people rested in the lodge, but the privacy of such visits is carefully kept here – guests come to the kingdom of bears and whales not for advertising and hanging out.
Naturally, under a Japanese owner, the lodge’s chef has not escaped Japanese influence (by the way, Vancouver is known for the best sushi in the world after Japan itself), but the cuisine of King Pacific Lodge is not unambiguously Japanese. Products are mostly local: cheeses and wines are delivered from the south of British Columbia, fish and seafood are from the surrounding area, even forest mushrooms and berries are used. Everything is natural, in the spirit of the addiction to organic and healthy food so common in western Canada. Naturally – all kinds of salmon (salmon fed the Indians long before the arrival of Europeans, and today remains the pride of the local cuisine). In 2009 King Pacific Lodge entered the Condé Nast Gold List: Top ranked property in North America in Food Category.
… And yet the most striking experience, the essence and salt of the King Pacific Lodge is not in the luxury itself, but in the contrast of this luxury and the endless wilderness for many hundreds of kilometers around. It’s nice to feel like a Canadian pioneer, indulge in the pleasures of gourmet cuisine and other delights of a chic hotel, return after an adventurous day to a cozy living room with a fireplace, or watch the sunset over the ocean from a sun lounger on the deck.
And, no matter how trite it sounds, it is simply breathtakingly beautiful. In any case, this place leaves no doubt that British Columbia is beautiful.
I will try to gradually tell blog readers about other parts of the province: about Tofino on the ocean coast of Vancouver Island, where Europeans come to watch the raging elements of winter storms, about the ski concierge at the Four Seasons hotel in Whistler resort, and about cosmopolitan and multilingual Vancouver, where every street opens view of the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. To be continued.