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The great outdoors have always been enhanced by great base camps. Lucky for us, B.C. and Washington State are sprinkled with one-of-a-kind resorts that blend into their surrounding while still insisting on luxury for guests. Here are the best of the rustic luxury lot, all within a day’s drive of Vancouver

Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, TOFINO

“Cowboy John, Cowboy John, can we go check out the orcas in the fjord?” asks the 12-year-old boy, his proper, almost regal English lilt masking his unbridled excitement.

“You can do what you want,” comes the response from “Cowboy” John Paton, owner of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, a fivestar, all-inclusive rainforest safari outpost about an hour’s Zodiac ride northeast from the Tofino municipal dock and about the same travel time by float plane from Vancouver.

The all-in experience has been the stuff of legends for both luxuriating couples and families in need of a high-end, higher- plane bonding time. Twenty guest tents thick canvas pop-ups built on permanent platforms every May and taken down every October are based on 19-century gold mining camps, and reminiscent of Hemingwayan visions, are luxuriously complete with wood stoves, antique furniture, plush beds and ensuite bathrooms and showers.

The property, located where the mouth of the Bedwell River empties into a 20-km fjord, is comprised of a rustic, sprawling cookhouse at its entrance, with massage tents, private canvas dining rooms, and even an internet café.

With its round-the-clock food and drink, epic dinners prepared by chefs trained and lauded internationally, and the free-pouring of $80 wines to wash it all down, Clayoquot Wilderness resort almost single-handedly defined the “glamping” (as in glamourous camping) category a few years back.

But as indulgent as the amenities are, the resort is a bucket list item because of the enveloping adventure mused by the local topography equal parts rainforest and Rocky Mountain that runs the gamut from horseback riding and gold mine exploration, to whale watching and surfing on nearby Flores Island. Really, it’s no wonder that kids – even ones whose mom is the Queen of England’s Lady in Waiting, sent here by her Royal boss as a show of appreciation – can hardly contain themselves. From $4,750 per person for three all-inclusive nights;

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Porteau Cove,


Who says you have to drive hours and hours to get away from it all? Stunning West Coast Canadiana is just 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver, courtesy of the private ocean front decks that serve up some of the Lower Mainland’s best sunsets, framed by the steely blue of Howe Sound and the lush, snowy summits beyond. A visit to the Porteau Cove Provincial Park’s resort log cabins is a sensory delight wood smoke mingles with the scent of kelp drying on the rocky beach as glimpses of seals and the surprisingly frequent dolphin keep you distracted for hours on end.

The two cabins are a legacy to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, when they served as welcome centres for global visitors. Upgraded into one-bedroom loft spaces, each cabin has a fully equipped kitchenette, a three-piece bathroom, a deck with a barbecue and – sacrilege! – satellite TV. And although each unit sleeps four people in their queen bed and bunks, each seems custom-made for a couples’ retreat. The kids, after all, are only an hour or so away if they really need you. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort Soule Creek Lodge From $139 per night per cabin;

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Soule Creek Lodge,


Although the cedar and river stone hotel castles of Tofino frequently get lauded for coastal luxury, there’s a comparable place to lay your head at the end of a the long, hard road to Port Renfrew on Vancouver Island’s little-visited southwest edge.

Soule Creek Lodge hugs the cloud-shrouded mountain side rising sharply from town, up a steep gravel road past massive spruce and hemlock that are just previews of the ancient giants hiding away from Port Renfrew’s smattering of civilization, most notably in the recently discovered Avatar Grove.

This cluster of massive cedars and firs that lies along the Gordon River was discovered by a local environmentalist several years ago and named after James Cameron’s sci-fi epic. Tree tourists and weekend road-trippers alike are only happy to find Soule Creek Lodge’s yurts and cabins perched over a Pacific Ocean panorama; almost as much as they are to discover the included home-cooked breakfast prepared by the owner-chefs obsessed with their organic garden and seafood pulled from local waters. From $135 per night;

Free Spirit Spheres,


If you take your tree houses with a decidedly modern or scifiesthetic, the Spirit Spheres of Qualicum Beach are an overnight must. The three handcrafted orbs hang from the treetops almost 12 feet above ground. The gentle swaying, natural wood grain everywhere and brilliant integration of surround sound into each unit is a hotel experience that’s truly unique. Just leave the little ones at home: only kids 16 and over are allowed. From $175 per night;

Rockwater Tenthouse Suites,


The Sunshine Coast has always provided accessible serenity to weary Lower Mainlanders, but unplugging north of the city has been recently enhanced with the arrival of Rockwater Resort’s Tenthouse Suites. Tucked away from the main resort, amongst the stillness of wise arbutus trees and ocean views of the Malaspina Strait, each tent is decorated with deluxe, minimal decor that begs to be photographed and recreated at home. The massive and plush king-size bed coaxes you in from the outdoor bounty, as does the hydro-therapy tub (with an ocean view, of course), outdoor rain forest shower, fireplace, and radiant floor heating. And with the private veranda and lounge furniture, there’s no need to change out of the complimentary bathrobes to get outside. From $236 per night;

Cedar Creek Tree House,


While viewing old trees from the ground is great, sleeping among them in your very own luxurious tree house is downright transcendent. The Cedar Creek Tree House Resort an hour south of Seattle is the jewel in the crown of a tree-top getaway that features viewing platforms, spiral staircases and suspension bridges that dish spectacular views of Mount Rainier – so much more colossal from such proximity – and striking Sawtooth Ridge. The eponymous Cedar Creek treehouse hovers 50 feet above the forest floor, hugging the trunk of a 200-year-old red cedar. With a double deck, sunroom, kitchen, observation deck and sleeping space for five, it doesn’t get more Robinson Caruso than this, especially when you consider the entire experience is solar-powered. From $300 pcouple per night; $50 per extra person with a maximum of five;

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