A few years ago when we were planning a big trip to western Canada, a friend who lives near Vancouver told us to make sure we factored in a few nights chilling on the Sunshine Coast. We were going to be doing a lot of travelling by car, boat, train and a few domestic flights too so we decided to start the holiday on the Sunshine Coast getting over our jet lag and relaxing at what turned out to be one of the best places we stayed at in the course of over three weeks in British Columbia and Alberta.
Initially I was a bit dubious about anywhere called the Sunshine Coast, perhaps because of connotations of the Costa del Sol or perhaps because the Aussie Sunshine Coast has become such a commercialised tourist spot. The Canadian version could not have been more different.
The place we chose to base ourselves was Tuwanek, a small community on the shores of the Pacific with a most beautiful forested backdrop and tranquility in bucket loads. The hotel was the Tuwanek Hotel, a luxury boutique inn, run by owners Chris and Krista Cutlan. With only three suites and four cottages, the emphasis is on personalised service in an intimate setting, ideal for those in search of relaxation.
There is even a spa, which although we didn’t sample, got great reviews from previous guests. Many of these guests come time and time again and if we lived closer we would certainly be joining the ranks of repeat customers. Tuwanek is an easy 45 minute ferry ride from Vancouver to Gibsons, followed by a scenic 35 minute drive.
Our suite, the Casa Blanca, was beautifully furnished: king size canopied “Cloud Bed” complete with Egyptian cotton bedding, a small table and chairs where we were served breakfast each morning and where we enjoyed a takeaway one evening, a desk and chair where we could catch up on emails on the in-suite iPad (what a great touch) and a comfy sitting area around a wood burner stove. Combined with the music system, TV, DVD player and underfloor heating for the cooler weather, there was really nothing that hadn’t been thought of.
Had we been so inclined we could even have done a spot of cooking with the suite’s little fridge, microwave, crockery etc and even a sink to do the washing up in. However, using the hotel’s barbecue by the shore was the closest we came to self catering. The excellent cooked two course breakfast (different dishes every day) always left us so full that we never needed lunch – an unusual occurrence I have to say! When peckishness did set in later in the day we were able to grab a complimentary snack (and indeed drink) from the generous stash in the Club Room.
The suite’s outdoor verandah with its chairs overlooking the beach added another dimension – it was just a shame that the local mozzies, out in swarms as soon as dusk fell, developed a taste for us but even Paradise has its downside!
The Casa Blanca bathroom had a slipper bath, huge shower with rainshower head plus hydrotherapy sprays, and slippers and fluffy bathrobes were provided. The sea was “refreshing” to swim in, so the shower big enough for two meant that we could both restore sensation to our limbs simultaneously!
Our days were spent enjoying a good book in the terraced gardens, soaking up the views from the hot tub, dozing on the loungers in the gazebo or strolling on the beach. Lest I give the shameful impression of indolence I should add that we did also enjoy taking the inn’s pedal boat out, very often accompanied closely by an inquisitive seal. For the more active guests, the area is a mecca for scuba divers (shore diving can be done right in front of the hotel), kayakers, hikers and, in the winter, cross country skiers.
The Sunshine Coast lived up to its name and we enjoyed some beautiful sunsets from our private verandah. Little did we know that the next time we saw the Pacific it would be in tempestuous weather in Tofino, with nothing between us and Japan!
Categories: Hotel Reviews - North America