Luxury in the wild
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