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The Wickaninnish Inn

Wickaninnish Inn: Indulge in a Haven of Luxury and Sustainability

Cosset in Rustic Elegance Set Against the Tranquil Backdrop of Mother Earth!

Experience ultimate luxury with a conscience.

Sustainability isn’t about having to sacrifice; it’s about making smart, conscious decisions – one of which is choosing luxury with sustainability.

Unveiling a world of unparalleled luxury and eco-consciousness, The Wickaninnish Inn stands as a shining example of a balance between opulence and sustainability. Overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean, this stunning resort on the rugged Vancouver Island coast is built with the utmost respect for the environment, incorporating efficient systems and locally sourced materials. Indulge in a haven of luxury and sustainability at The Wickaninnish Inn.

Nestled among the luscious forests of Canada’s Pacific Northwest, the Wickaninnish Inn is a one-of-a-kind experience that blends the best of both worlds: the serenity and beauty of the natural surroundings and the opulence of a world-renowned luxury retreat.

The Wickaninnish Inn, a haven for eco-friendly hospitality, was born from the aspirations of Charles McDiarmid, who has been the Managing Director since 1996. The family had dreamed of it since Charles’ father’s relocation to the wild west coast of Vancouver Island in the 1950s.

Charles’ hard work paid off when he graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration in 1979. This earned him a position at the prestigious Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, where he worked in both operations and sales management for thirteen years. But his journey came full circle when he wrote the business plan for the Tofino hotel, bringing his family’s dream to fruition.

In addition to its commitment to sustainability, the Wickaninnish Inn also offers a wide range of activities and amenities to guests. From freshly sourced cuisine and spa treatments, the Wickaninnish Inn offers something for everyone.

Today, the Wickaninnish Inn is a beacon of sustainable hospitality, offering guests a unique wilderness experience while minimizing their environmental impact.

We sat down with Charles McDiarmid to delve deeper into their commitment to comfort and luxury,which has garnered them countless awards and accolades.

Please brief our audience about your Hotel, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a prominent name in the hospitality industry.

Wickaninnish Inn, a Relais& Châteaux property since 1997, overlooks the Pacific Ocean from a rocky point on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast, near the eclectic town of Tofino and Pacific Rim National Park. Two contemporary cedar buildings, set against a backdrop of ancient rainforest, boast an extensive local art collection (complemented by the neighboring wood carving shed), and all rooms and suites offer ocean or beach views, a gas fireplace, a soaker tub, and an individual balcony. Uncompromising service, including a Clefs d’Or concierge team, is standard. The sole resort on Chesterman Beach, Tofino’s longest at 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles), the Inn is home to refined West Coast cuisine at The Pointe Restaurant and naturally inspired treatments at its intimate Ancient Cedars Spa.

Shed some light on your offerings and how they impact the hospitality industry as well as your clients.

The inn offers 12 spacious suites and 63 deluxe guestrooms, all with ocean and/or beach views, a fireplace, a soaker tub with a view, and individual balconies to set the stage for experiencing rustic elegance on nature’s edge. The Pointe Restaurant and On the Rocks Bar offer panoramic 260-degree views of Chesterman Beach, the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, and the open ocean, all complimented by refined West Coast cuisine and an extensive and well-curated wine cellar.

The highly regarded and immensely popular Ancient Cedars Spa, also looking out over the open ocean, is for many a capstone of their Wickaninnish Inn experience. Over the Inn’s 27 years of providing innovative and constantly evolving hospitality, the Inn has consistently been rated as one of the finest properties in North America by the readers of both Travel + Leisure Magazine and Conde Nast Traveller, earning the hall of fame designation from both publications since the inception of this designation. While the many accolades over the years have been consistent, the touchstone of the Wickaninnish Inn experience has always been and continues to be the consistently high level of professional yet unobtrusive personalized service that seeks to create a subtle sense of magic for every guest.

Please brief us about the featured person’s (s) journey in the industry and how they have contributed to the company’s success.

Charles McDiarmid grew up in Tofino and has been the driving force behind the Wickaninnish Inn since the McDiarmid family envisioned its creation in the early 1990s.

After attending Brentwood College School and Mount Douglas Secondary School in Victoria, BC, McDiarmid graduated from Cornell University in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration. He was recruited by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, beginning his hospitality career in Calgary, Alberta. He worked with the luxury hotel chain for over 13 years in various operational and sales management roles in Washington, D.C., Dallas, Texas, Newport Beach, California, and Seattle, Washington.

Once in Seattle, McDiarmid researched, developed, and wrote the business plan for his family’s dream of the Wickaninnish Inn. While in Seattle, he was recruited by the Vancouver Convention and Visitors Bureau for the position of director of sales, which he held for two years. It was during this time in Vancouver that McDiarmid sourced financial support for his Wickaninnish Inn business plan.

A one-year stint at Vancouver’s Delta Place Hotel (now the Metropolitan Hotel) produced a successful sales record as well as a strong working relationship with front office manager Christine Stocker, who became and remained the director of operations at the Wickaninnish Inn.

In 1995, after securing financing and the necessary permits, McDiarmid began construction of Tofino’s premier luxury resort. Under McDiarmid’s vision of sustainability, the inn was built with local red cedar and reclaimed Douglas fir sourced on Vancouver Island. The inn opened its doors in August 1996, receiving significant media attention for its spectacular ocean views, hand-adzed detailing, culinary program, and superior service levels. The popular concept of winter storm watching in Tofino was created and elevated by McDiarmid and founded on a family tradition of gathering window-side to watch 30-foot waves roll by the family cabin situated on the first point west of the Inn. In 2003, McDiarmid oversaw the opening of the Wickaninnish-on-the-Beach building, adding 30 rooms and suites to the inn while minimizing the impact on the surrounding old-growth forest.

McDiarmid has served on several boards in the tourism industry, including a six-year term with Destination BC and several years on the board of the Tourism Association of Vancouver Island (TAVI). Currently a board member and past chair of the Tourism Tofino Board of Directors, he also continues to be actively involved in the day-to-day operations and marketing of the Wickaninnish Inn as Managing Director. The inn has been the recipient of several honors, notably in 2002, when readers of the esteemed Travel + Leisure magazine voted the inn the #1 resort in North America and #2 in the world.

Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on how the adoption of modern technologies has impacted the hospitality sector. How has your association incorporated such technologies into its daily operations?

To provide some context, when we opened the inn in 1996, we had two computers and a fledgling website, no internet or even cell service. Today we have over 55 desktops, laptops, and other devices, all driven by a state-of-the-art virtual computer network, an extensive custom website, high-speed fiber internet as fast as you can get in the city, ubiquitous cell service, and a tablet in every guest room. Technology helps to drive our service levels, allowing us to provide ever higher levels of guest attention and interaction rather than reducing our reliance on the human touch. We opened in the days of giant tube TVs, and today our HD flat screens rise out of the dressers or fold out of the ceiling on guest command or remain hidden away, allowing the large picture windows looking out over the open Pacific Ocean to have top billing.

We strive to provide a level of advanced technical convenience for our guests, who enjoy the innovations this technology provides, while at the same time also delivering all services on a personal analog basis, one on one.

What initial challenges did you and your association face, and how did you drive your Hotel to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your customers?

Having grown up in Tofino, when faced with the many unknowns of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020, we honored our small town of Tofino and vulnerable surrounding First Nations communities by being the first hotel in our region to close our doors and ultimately the last to open. Financial considerations were definitely well down the list of priorities compared to the health of our team, our guests, and our community.

We waived the rent for our 90-plus beds of staff accommodation until we reopened. Fortunately, we managed the business in a fairly conservative manner and were able to withstand the shock, and when government support arrived shortly after our initial closure, we were able to retain 30% of our staff on payroll to both maintain the property and work on projects to improve the guest and staff experience as we looked forward to the uncertain day we were able to reopen.

Elements like full masking for our team and guests, the requirement for staff and guests to be fully vaccinated once they were widely available, social distancing, shields, one-meter spacing in Food & Beverage service areas, and even the offer of a Roomba to clean guest room carpets when it was not deemed safe for our staff to enter guest rooms were all part of the process that evolved almost every day, and our management team constantly met to adapt and adjust to the best practices and requirements of our public health officials.

What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the hospitality industry?

Ensure you love hospitality and you will never have the feeling of going to work; find investors that trust your vision and respect what it takes to deliver on an operational level; build and develop a team that will be there with you through thick and thin; and finally, believe in your vision and be prepared to tough it out through the many long days and nights during your start-up years.

How do you envision scaling your Hotels’ functions and offerings in 2023 and beyond?

Strive every day to be just a little bit better than the day before and work on plans to be a little bit better tomorrow than today. Constant, steady improvement is the answer, and part of that today is always listening to our guest comment cards and our team members, especially our younger team members, so we can adapt to their needs and expectations in a world where the younger generation is in the driver’s seat.

Please give us a few testimonials of your clients/customers and a list of awards/recognitions that accurately highlight your association’s position in the market.


  1. Honestly, it was faultless, and we loved every minute. We relaxed as soon as we checked in, as we knew we were going to love our stay. If any hotel can make you feel like it is an extension of your home and family, this is it. Every wish is catered for and often anticipated with smiles all around. The level of detail and thought put into every stage of your stay is unrivaled in our opinion, and we have been staying at Relais& Chateaux hotels for 30+ years.Thurston
    Surrey, UK
  2. We love the beautiful setting on Vancouver Island and how we can always count on the rooms and service to be stellar. Thanks for the last twenty years of enjoyment and for the next twenty going forward!Dr. Montgomery
    BC, Canada
  3. Attention to detail without a sense of being a showplace. Laid-back ambiance, friendliness, and comfort are first concerns. Relaxing wood, forest color, and natural decor everywhere. Friendly staff everywhere Safety measures were excellent. And all this in the middle of a pandemic? An astonishing achievement.Bernard
    Victoria, BC
Condé Nast US T+L
2021 #2 Resort in Canada #2 in Canada               #80 Worldwide
2020 #3 in Canada #3 in Canada               #80 Worldwide
2019 #1 in Canada #5 in Canada
2018 #1 in Canada #2 in Canada

Consistently ranking in Canada’s top tier by the readers of both magazines for the past twenty years has earned the Inn Condé Nast Traveler’s coveted Platinum Circle and Travel + Leisure’s Hall of Fame list. To be included in the Platinum Circle, a property must have been on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List for five years running. Inclusion in the Hall of Fame list requires a player to have made the top tier for a minimum of 10 years in a row. The Wickaninnish Inn remains the only hotel in Canada on the Hall of Fame list.