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The Short Version: Few memorable romantic getaways start with a seaplane. But that’s the only way to access the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge in Vancouver Island, Canada, a perfect place for couples to find adventure together. The luxurious eco safari options and Baillie Lodge, located on the UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve of Clayoquot Sound, are now available to vaccinated guests from the United States and throughout Canada. Couples often celebrate important relationship milestones, including engagements and anniversaries, and they can strengthen their bonds through natural experiences.
The Clayoquot Sound is located on the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Vancouver Island in Canada and was named a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2000. To call it breathtakingly beautiful is, perhaps, an understatement.
Like many long-term relationships, Clayoquot Sound has a long and storied history filled with beauty and wonder. That’s why many couples celebrate their adventurous relationships with a visit to the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge.
“We’re on the banks of the vast Clayoquot Sound surrounded by ancient rainforest, towering mountains, and plunging gorges,” said Sarah Cruse, the General Manager for the property, which is owned by an Australian company, Baillie Lodges. “It offers a genuine sense of place, a union of sights, scents, and tastes that immerses guests in their surroundings.”
The entire Pacific National Park boasts glorious forests of fir, hemlock, and cypress trees. The park was saved by environmental activists who helped change best practices in the modern Canadian logging industry. Loggers can no longer clear cut, as the country created programs to protect its remaining old-growth forests.
Fresh seafood is popular in the area where rocky cliffs plunge to the nearby ocean. Salmon fishing has been a major industry in the Clayoquot Sound since World War II. Before that, native peoples lived there in solitude. They were known as the Tla-o-qui-aht nation, which was how the sound’s name was derived. Clayoquot, by the way, is pronounced clah-quat.
Sarah said the visiting couples are an essential part of the area’s modern-day story.
“A stay with Baillie Lodges offers time to reconnect with the people and places that matter most,” she said.
The lodge was first envisioned more than two decades ago by Founder Richard Genovese. Richard had always dreamed of a retreat where guests could unwind and embrace the peace and beauty of the pristine wilderness, all while reconnecting with loved ones.
He purchased 600 acres of picturesque natural land around Clayoquot Sound, and in 2000 he opened the resort. It quickly became known as Canada’s premier wilderness safari lodge. Tragically, Richard died following a battle with cancer in 2017. Two years later, KSL Capital Partners purchased the property with a promise to uphold the original vision of protecting the natural environment.
In 2021, the resort transferred to the Baillie Lodges brand, which operates luxurious wilderness properties worldwide. The administrative team has a three-year plan to bring the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge in line with its other properties. Those include the Huka Lodge in New Zealand and the Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island off the coast of Australia.
“So far, the property has undergone a refurbishment of its 25 luxury tents, leading with a more contemporary vibe,” Sarah said. “Baillie Lodges founders James and Hayley Baillie believe Clayoquot is a natural fit for the portfolio as the most remote and wild addition to the collection to date.”
The contemporary eco-safari guest tents are styled with locally commissioned, often First Nations-designed furnishings. The property’s Healing Grounds Spa includes a waterfront massage tent and cedar hot tubs. The beautiful property lets guests unplug from the stress of everyday life and relax completely.
When a couple goes on a getaway, they don’t want destinations with packed, trendy restaurants, long waits, and mixed reviews. That’s why the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge’s restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner on site.
“A stay with Baillie Lodges is about connection with the landscape, its culture and wildlife, a celebration of superb regional cuisine, and luxurious lodgings,” Sarah said.
Every evening, the chef features a three-course dinner menu prepared with fresh local ingredients. Seafood is popular as freshly caught scallops, octopus, and prawns come straight from local waters. Its lunch menu reflects each season in a Pacific Northwest bistro style. Breakfast is casual and flexible.
After all, there’s more to do than just eat and relax. The Clayoquot Sound is a place that’s best explored and experienced first-hand.
“Adventures abound in the wildly diverse natural playground at Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, with seemingly endless options including exhilarating heli-flights, yoga, remote hiking, wildlife spotting, and forest bathing,” Sarah said.
The 90-minute “Sip to Sky” heli-experience is extra special. Couples can take in the bird’s-eye view of the sound while enjoying signature drinks and canapés. It’s a memorable way to celebrate a relationship, especially if the plan is to pop the big question midair. The experience could be enhanced with sights of an orca, black bears, or whales.
“Guest itineraries are tailor-made, creating a personal, lasting connection with the destination,” Sarah said. “These are the special times and shared memories couples will recall for years to come. A visit to Clayoquot becomes part of the fabric of an enduring romantic relationship.
Couples work directly with the lodge staff to make their experiences as magical as possible. For example, they can schedule a hiking adventure, a tour in a Zodiac boat, watersports, including paddleboarding and kayaking, or even arrange to explore the canyons through a glacier-fed waterfall. Because it’s an exclusive resort, everyone gets personal attention.
“Clayoquot welcomes a whole range of guests — including couples and families — who are all seeking the same thing: a chance to get away from the busyness of everyday life and land in a luxury wilderness camp,” Sarah said. “The experiences at Clayoquot are perfect for couples on a romantic getaway, and it promises to be an unforgettable journey of shared discovery and memory-making.”
The lodge only recently opened back up since travel restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic were implemented. Since reopening earlier this summer to fully vaccinated guests, Canadians and Americans have been enjoying everything the lodge has to offer. And 2022 is set to be an even greater year.
“Next year, we’re hoping that, as the world arms itself against COVID-19, we can welcome more guests from around the globe,” Sarah said.