I checked in at the Marriott Peninsula in downtown Vancouver, accompanied by the usual hilarity at check in when I, David Marriott, register at a Marriott hotel. I made my way to room 2416 on the 24th floor with great views, albeit through other buildings, of the water with the mountains beyond and Stanley Park. Vancouver is definitely one of the most beautifully located of the world’s cities.
From the city I took a 50 minute flight up the length of Vancouver Island to Port Hardy, again with stunning views of snow capped mountains and fjords. From the airport we boarded a private launch for a 25 minute trip to Port Mc Neil with sightings of dolphin, eagles and seals (transfers by float plane or helicopter are also available). We stopped for around two hours in Alert Bay, where a local guide treated us to a fascinating and moving history of the country’s First Nations community. We also visited a local potlatch or Long House.
A further 50 minute boat ride brought us to Nimmo Bay. The property has a stunning location and the accommodation is truly luxurious. I stayed in one of the newer cabins which was not dissimilar to a New England beach house but in a west coast arboreal rainforest. Dinner was fresh local produce served communally, but with starters presented on the deck around a roaring fire with sumptuous throws to keep us warm.
The next morning I awoke refreshed at 7am in time for my yoga class, a new and enlightening experience with a very talented young lady, followed by a hearty breakfast. We then went on a wildlife spotting boat trip, seeing dolphins, seals, eagles and black bears, the latter observing us with polite disinterest. I felt exceptionally privileged.
We stopped at a small floating community of 15 properties to re-fuel and play a few rounds of golf. Well, we stood on the end of the pontoon and tried to hit a bell out on a buoy! As none of us has played before, our attempts varied between abysmal and shockingly close with everything in between.
Lunch was a wonderful picnic in a superb setting with a local character called Billy regaling us with stories from the area where he has lived, never venturing more than eight miles away, for over 80 years. His home is similar to a museum.
From sea to sky. After lunch we flew by private helicopter to some of the most remote and stunning scenery the planet has to offer, including dramatic gorges, enormous waterfalls, plunging cliffs, huge glacier sheets, lush forests and more snow capped mountains than you could shake a stick at. The day will be embedded in my memory for a lifetime.
We returned to the lodge in time for a massage, with a waterfall complementing the gentle music. In a relaxed state I wandered down to pre-dinner drinks and another wonderful evening of fine food, exceptional wine and perfect company.
The next morning was another enormous breakfast, a fond farewell to the staff and then a 20 minute floatplane flight back to Port Hardy. We were treated to a low level flight which allowed us to see the hugest pod of around 200 dolphins, followed by a regular plane ride back to Vancouver but with the usual showcase of forests and mountains. How quickly I had become accustomed to such wonderful scenery!