Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor
TOFINO, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Tofino’s leading attractions are its adventurous water activities, amazing food scene, and laid-back atmosphere on the Pacific coast. Its impressive new vacation property pulls all of those aspects together with the aim of making the resort town more convenient and affordable.
Two hockey players with ties to Vancouver and a construction magnate partnered to launch Tofino Resort + Marina, or TRM for short. The multimillion-dollar property debuted in 2017 with its own marina that includes 52 boat slips. Some of those spaces are reserved for TRM’s high-speed boats, which carry guests on tours to spot whales and wildlife or on a 90-minute journey to remote Hot Springs Cove, a natural wonder that attracts bathers from around the world.
TRM’s culinary program includes two restaurants: The Hatch, a locals’ hangout that serves pizzas and inexpensive pub fare, and 1909 Kitchen, which is run by executive chef Paul Moran and is a must-dine spot in British Columbia. Moran has worked in leading restaurants in France, Montreal, and Vancouver, and has spent years getting to know the ingredients on land and in the sea of the Pacific northwest. He executes a straightforward menu with impeccable ability, balancing seafood flavours with touches of spice and creativity. The cedar-roasted black cod ($31) features a maple-and-miso infusion that lingers on the tongue after you’ve savoured the sweetness and smokiness of the fish. Like the cod, pizzas are cooked in a 1,000-degree oven imported from California that Moran uses as the focal point for the food at both 1909 Kitchen and The Hatch. If you’ve had a good day fishing, you can choose to have Moran prepare your fish and seafood using the oven and his culinary talent.
“Paul’s food is shining,” says TRM general manager Daniel Vogel, who previously worked at the Wickaninnish Inn. “Our challenge to ourselves with the restaurant program was, ‘How can we make food that is good, approachable, and fun?’ Because we can’t live off of special-occasion reservations as a new restaurant. Paul’s dishes are simply presented on the menu and when they are served you find out they are seasoned to perfection.”
The idea of accessibility is a hallmark of TRM. When former NHL defenceman Willie Mitchell and his one-time Vancouver Canucks teammate, Dan Hamhuis, partnered with developer Andrew Purdey to purchase the property their aim was to make Tofino more available to a wider variety of travellers. If you’ve tried to book a room in Tofino during the summer in recent years you know the vacation hot spot on Vancouver Island has been short on accommodations. Prices at famed hotels like the Wickaninnish Inn and Long Beach Lodge can be out of reach for many. While there are some cheap motels in Tofino, many travellers want the level of comfort and sophistication of a three-star or four-star property. TRM fills that niche. Its nightly rates range from $229 to $329 in the summer. Rooms are large and well-appointed with gorgeous panoramic views of Clayoquot Sound. Located in the town, TRM is within a 15-minute walk of Tofino restaurants Wolf in the Fog, SoBo, and Kuma, among others.
Its guests can rent boats for $125 per hour to venture into Clayoquot Sound on their own or they can join tours run by TRM’s Activity Centre. I participated in the Hot Springs Cove tour, sailing over rocky waters to the isolated dock that leads to Maquinna Provincial Park. The park is home to the attraction, which is about 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of Tofino. While you will have the chance to see whales and sea lions during the journey, the trip’s purpose is to give you the opportunity to soak in the indulgent waters of Hot Springs Cove. There are seven small pools of water whose temperatures range from scaldingly hot near the top to decadently warm as you near the ocean.
TRM’s trip leaves at 8 a.m., giving its guests the chance to arrive early and beat the intense rush of tourists that descends daily around midday. Even so, space was tight on the morning I arrived. To reach the cove from the dock, requires a 30-minute walk along a boardwalk path and then a treacherous climb down the rocks and boulders that lead into the pools. Despite its drawbacks, the Hot Springs Cove experience is worth the journey.
It is one of several reasons why publishers consistently rank Tofino among the best places to visit in Canada. What TRM has added is a more convenient way for guests to reach the cove as well as another enticement to come to Tofino — as if you needed one.
MORE ABOUT TOFINO RESORT + MARINA
Location: 634 Campbell Street, Tofino, BC (see map below)
Room Rates: Nightly rates range from $229-$339 during peak season. Tours cost extra.