It started when Chris Moore and some friends went looking for a little fishing cabin. Instead they stumbled across a 124-acre property at Cawley Point on Sechelt Inlet and realized they had found something special.
“We were up there in the boat and we saw this piece of property and fell in love with it,” said Sandra Demchuk, one of five partners in the Wilderness Resort & Retreat. The property had already been developed, but the operators had run into difficulties, and Moore’s group saw an opportunity.
“Once we got onto the resort we all thought yeah, we got to give this a go. This is too much of a magical spot not to try.”
The fly-in or boat-in resort is only 20 minutes from Sechelt by water taxi, but feels like another world. The forest is deeply tranquil in daytime, and at night the sky glitters in a spectacular overhead canopy, while luminescence swirls in the water.
“We’re not a luxury resort, we’re rustically comfortable,” said Moore. “Our target market is outdoor adventurers and anyone who wants to hold retreats such as yoga, corporate team building, or even weddings. The love of outdoors and nature is a must.”
The resort has two four-bedroom cabins for groups or families, 10 double-occupancy wilderness tents, and two yurts. While the cabins have kitchens and barbeques, most guests will want to enjoy chef-prepared meals featuring fresh vegetables grown on the property, served at tables that overlook the ocean. Guests can also soak in one of three wood-burning hot tubs.
Daytime activities include kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding in the super calm waters. Paddlers can explore nearby, or head out for more ambitious trips up Salmon or Narrows Inlets. The resort can also provide fishing or sightseeing charters to destinations such as Skookumchuck Narrows, Chatterbox Falls or Princess Louisa Inlet.
But it is the opportunities for divers that are most extraordinary. The HMCS Chaudière, a former WWII Canadian Navy submarine hunter, was sunk in 1992 at nearby Kunechin Point by the Artificial Reef Society of BC, and is now home to a diverse marine ecosystem. And right in front of the resort a 200-foot wall plunges into the depths.
“We’re not doing actual guided dives, but we are advertising to experienced divers that this is a fantastic place to stage out of, whether it’s slack tide at Skookumchuck Rapids, or just snorkelling and shallow diving around the resort,” said Moore.
“One of the things that we’re finding is the need to educate people on stewardship of our marine resources,” he adds. “We’re able to complement our menu with treats that are in season, so people get a sense of what an oyster is like fresh out of the ocean. But we harvest according to the rules and laws.”
Landlubbers can explore the intertidal life along the beaches, or head out on trails and old logging roads in search of birds, mushrooms and wildflowers. A large yoga or meditation platform up on the bluff has view of the ocean and also doubles as a helicopter landing pad.
Sunshine Coast Air and Harbour Air both provide float plane service to Sechelt from Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, or visitors can catch a ferry from West Vancouver, drive to Sechelt, and park. The water taxi ride is 20 minutes from Sechelt or 10 minutes from Egmont.
Although a lot of guests will be urbanites, Demchuk is planning a spring promotion for locals. “What we’re finding is that not many people know we’re out there,” she said, “so we’d like to invite them out and share what we’re doing.”
Moore chimes in: “You may live in Vancouver, Gibsons or Sechelt, but you come out here, just 20 minutes out, and you’re in another world.”
“A lot of the guests we get are pretty stressed out when they arrive,” said Demchuk. “As the weekend goes on they completely change right in front of us. All of a sudden they’re totally reconnecting with the nature around them, the sound of the birds, the water, and by the time they leave they’re crying and hugging us. I tell them: don’t cry, just come back.”
Wilderness Resort & Retreat 604-800-7862.
– Donna McMahon,
Photo courtesy of Dolf Vermeulen Creative