Shaped like a submarine lurking off the edges of British Columbia, there’s something truly serene about Vancouver Island, from its dense verdant forests brimming with wildlife to the picturesque cerulean waters of the inlets of the Pacific Rim National Park.
It’s not that time moves slowly here, it’s that it drifts, much like the gargantuan whale fins peering above the ocean’s surface in Tofino – where most journey’s on Vancouver Island begin. The rugged enclave on the island’s West coast is one of the best places to spot the massive mammals, and in the know travellers will follow up the adventure with a piscine feast at The Pointe Restaurant inside the Wickaninnish Inn, a peaceful hotel with soaring views over Chesterman beach.
Up in the Mount Washington Alpine Resort, a different adventure awaits. The mountain’s 1,600m summit, accessible by ski-lift, offers the most sensational panoramas of the island, but if you fancy putting in some serious leg work for your Instagram-worthy reward then make a beeline for the West Coast Trail – but be warned, the bogs and ancient forest can make for challenging walking conditions.
Though sometimes, the island is at its finest when sat back sampling some of the pinot noirs, pinot gris’ and ortegas crafted from the one hundred-plus grape varieties that thrive here. The Cowichan Valley is the main hub for oenophiles on this island, and the cool climate makes for some superb vintages produced by the likes of the Averill Creek and Blue Grouse vineyard, both of which are open for tastings.
No Vancouver Island weekend is complete without a look into the capital Victoria. With its impeccably manicured gardens, wharfs and a lighthouse beloved by the local sea otter and seal population, end your adventure with a stay at the Fairmont Empress – an iconic château that first opened its doors in 1908 – and a meal at Olo, a high-end, rustically designed temple to the freshest local produce. Their tasting menu is an exquisite exercise in the island’s flavour, with standout dishes like an unctuous halibut with quinoa, fennel, charred cucumber, tomato and prawn bisque. It’s a fitting dish to describe Vancouver Island as a whole: serene but with just a dash of wild and raw mystique.
A Quick Guide to Vancouver
What to See: Stroll through the Victorian houses and trendy boutiques in historic Gastown to embrace the vibe of the Pacific Northwest. From there, venture up Grouse Mountain – for skiing in winter, hiking in summer but always for a quick panorama. For a waterfront treat, few settings are more serene than sunset at English Bay.
Where to Eat: Dine on the bounty of the Pacific Northwest at the restaurant Botanist or a savoury seafood feast at Yew Seafood and Bar. Of course, no trip to Vancouver would be complete without the requisite meal at renowned Hawksworth.
The restaurants featured are partners of the American Express® Global Dining Collection which is a benefit for Centurion® and Platinum Card® Members offering special access to reservations and experiences with some of your favourite chefs.
Where to Sleep: The ultramodern Fairmont Pacific Rim highlights everything that’s beautiful about this region, from the unobstructed harbour views to the stunning architecture and décor evoking the spirit of the Pacific Rim.
Fairmont Pacific Rim is a member of Fine Hotels & Resorts.
To make a booking or find out about other Fine Hotels & Resorts in the area, please contact your CENTURION TRAVEL SERVICE.