Anyone who has been in one of Baillie cabins in Australia will recognize the style of the company immediately: intimate cabins with sophisticated but not picky design, elevated culinary programs and spectacular natural surroundings right from the backdrop of the massive red sandstone monolith Uluru on Longitude 131 to the wildlife and open sea around Kangaroo Island’s Southern Ocean Lodge. (Due to rebuilding after destruction in the devastating fires in Australia last year.) It seems to be a natural fit as James and Haley Baillie have taken over Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, a luxurious glamping complex with 25 tents in a remote desert stretching off Vancouver Island. The first phase of their transformation opens June 17thth as well as plans for Canada’s gradual border opening for vaccinated Americans begins to take shape.
Guests arrive by seaplane, lodge 12-person ship Norwester for a 35-minute voyage from Tofino or by prior private arrangement by helicopter. Guests who have made this journey before will immediately notice some changes: the tents are now brighter with new king-size beds, expanded lounge areas and furniture in modern lines accentuated by pieces created by local artisans. The second renovation phase will take place after the 2022 season and includes a renovation / redesign of the public areas The Cookhouse Restaurant, bar and Healing Grounds Spa, which has a varied menu of facial and body services, fitness classes and energy healing.
Around this ongoing work, however, the stunning views remain the same: directly on the crystal-clear UNESCO-designed Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve and the wilderness of the coniferous forest around it. The extensive lodge activities are always designed to take advantage of this pristine setting of 600 acres, but are also expandable; Signature experiences are now also included as part of a stay that brings the lodge in line with the other all-inclusive Baillie properties. Among these signatures: riding on one of the lodge’s 30 horses; guided hike in the rainforest with a picnic lunch packed for longer hikes; a half-day wildlife spotting adventure on the Sound to see bears, whales, guinea pigs, seals and sea lions or the more intense full day “Walk the Wild Side” that follows the path to the Wild Side First Nations Interpretative Trail for closer encounters with that wildlife ; mountaineering and kayaking or paddle boarding from the top of Bedwell Sound to a waterfall canal. All dining options, a premium selection of wines, spirits and beers and a 60-minute massage a day are also included.
Other experiences are possible for an additional fee. Prime among them are bespoke helicopter experiences using the resort’s resident Bell Jet Ranger to find even more remote locations for hiking, swimming, picnicking, fly fishing or high altitude cocktail: a 15-minute scenic flight each way to the top of Ursus Mountain accompanied of cocktails and canapes.
Back at the lodge, new Executive Chef Asher Blackford, who previously ran Southern Ocean Lodge’s award-winning restaurant, fuses his elevated skills with the extraordinary ingredients that come sustainably from Vancouver Island or elsewhere in British Columbia. Influences range from the province’s multicultural community and the culinary scene in the Northwest Pacific with daily changing menus featuring seafood such as squid, scallops and shrimp caught nearby with lunch choices ranging from ceviche to a classic organic beef burger. Breakfast and lunch can be as light or extensive as guests want to fit around in the daily activities. And Blackford is determined to give all meals a certain sense of place, as befits the Baillies’ intention of the lodge in general.