Lux­ury in the wild

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Canada - CHRIS­TINE McCABE

SONORA RE­SORT, BRI­TISH COLUMBIA This up­scale Re­lais & Chateaux re­treat may fea­ture large, lux­ury suites, hot tubs and very fancy food but its roots as a re­mote fish­ing lodge are still dis­cernible. Floorto-ceil­ing win­dows dip al­most di­rectly into the chilly, swirling wa­ters of the Bute In­let where enor­mous sea lions drift by on beds of kelp right be­low your gue­stroom and pods of dol­phins (and some­times Or­cas) frolic fur­ther out. Fifty min­utes from Van­cou­ver by he­li­copter, the re­sort strad­dles the rocky shores of Sonora Is­land at the mouth of one of the deep­est in­lets in North Amer­ica. Its stun­ning beauty is matched only by the heart-rac­ing wildlife ad­ven­tures on of­fer, in­clud­ing a high-speed boat trip up the in­let to the Or­ford River where from river­side hides and on foot guests get up close, some­times hair­rais­ingly so, to huge griz­zlies in the salmon sea­son. More: sono­raresort.com.

CLAY­OQUOT WILDER­NESS RE­SORT, BC Long the most cov­eted spot from which to ex­plore the forests and marine rich wa­ters of the Clay­oquot Sound Bio­sphere off Van­cou­ver Is­land, the lux­ury tented Clay­oquot Wilder­ness Re­sort is a 45-minute flight from Van­cou­ver or quick boat ride from the pretty town of Tofino. While whale watch­ing and black bear spot­ting are high on the list of ac­tiv­i­ties, a new moun­tain­top mini-camp, ac­ces­si­ble only by he­li­copter and clus­tered be­side a pretty lake at 1372m, with glo­ri­ous views, pro­vides the re­sort’s ul­ti­mate glamp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Guests are ac­com­pa­nied up the moun­tain by a guide and a chef who, given lim­ited fa­cil­i­ties, still man­ages to whip up a se­ri­ous five-course din­ner. Guest tents are not too shabby, ei­ther — a large bed dressed in down-filled du­vet, turn­down ser­vice and hot shower. Cloud Camp is avail­able as a one-night ad­don to reg­u­lar pack­ages. More: wil­dretreat.com.

FOGO IS­LAND INN, NEW­FOUND­LAND On a re­mote is­land off the north­east coast of New­found­land, this strik­ing piece of ar­chi­tec­ture rises like a ma­rooned post­mod­ern ship on a rocky shore over­look­ing the wild North At­lantic. The cosy inn is the brain­child of is­land-born mil­lion­aire busi­ness­woman Zita Cobb, who wanted to help re­vi­talise the lo­cal com­mu­nity af­ter the cod fish­ery closed. With wood-burn­ing fires and wood­fired sauna, the inn is open year-round, al­low­ing guests to ex­pe­ri­ence the is­land’s seven dis­tinct sea­sons. In­ter­na­tional de­sign­ers worked with lo­cal crafts­peo­ple to cre­ate 29 light-filled, boho-chic gue­strooms, all with dra­matic views and a mostly white pal­ette en­livened by patch­work quilts and rock­ing chairs. The ac­claimed food takes its lead from the is­land’s won­der­ful seafood and sea­sonal bounty, in­clud­ing mush­rooms and berries in au­tumn. More: fo­go­is­landinn.ca.

CHURCHILL WILD, ARC­TIC CANADA Dubbed the “African sa­fari of the Arc­tic”, this fam­i­ly­owned en­ter­prise op­er­ates four re­mote lodges as bases for some of the most thrilling wildlife en­coun­ters on the planet, in­clud­ing view­ing po­lar bears on foot and swimming with bel­uga whales. Si­t­u­ated on the Hud­son Bay coast, where the bears con­gre­gate in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber wait­ing for the ocean to freeze, and ac­ces­si­ble only by light air­craft, each lodge of­fers a snug re­treat from the harsh el­e­ments. The three bear lodges are lo­cated wa­ter­front; the Nanuk Po­lar Bear Lodge is near a newly dis­cov­ered den­ning. Your on-foot sa­fari guide is armed but gen­er­ally needs to do lit­tle more than toss a stone to de­ter overly cu­ri­ous bears. The most southerly and lux­u­ri­ous of the lodges is lo­cated on North Knife Lake tucked into the for­est. More: churchill­wild.com.

Clock­wise from main, Cloud Camp; Fogo Is­land Inn; Sonora Re­sort; Churchill Wild

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