From remote high-end retreats normally reserved by international tourists to affordable and off-the-beaten-path family-friendly adventures, there are some deals and hidden gems to uncover in B.C.’s backyard this summer.
Overlooking a private glacial lake in the Chilcotin, the Chilko Experience Wilderness Resort offers grizzly bear viewing, horse riding, and all the toys you need for nature’s playground – at a cost of US$2,950 per person for a three-night stay.
But with borders closed, the ultimate getaway that usually attracts Americans and Europeans is slashing its rates for the first time in its five year history. British Columbians will receive a 20 per cent discount on normal prices, one night free on week-long stays, and 25 per cent off monthly rates.
“You’re not likely to see another person for the whole time you’re here,” said general manager Carly McMahon.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chilko Experience is also offering resort buyouts by the week, month or whole season to families or groups of up to 20 guests who want complete privacy and exclusive access to all amenities.
The luxury resort is billing itself as “quarantine heaven”, and its availability is currently as wide open as the eight hectares of untamed Chilcotin it inhabits.
Many of the province’s tourism associations are also incorporating Dr. Bonnie Henry’s reopening mantra of “few faces and big spaces” into their summer marketing campaigns.
Tourism Kamloops is advertising “wide open spaces” and “uncrowded trails” in B.C’s southern Interior, where Canadians can receive discounts on accommodations. Both Coast and Delta Hotels are offering a “B.C. residents” or staycation rate of up to 15 per cent off while Sandman Inn & Suites Kamloops is cutting standard rates by up to 35 per cent for Canadian residents.
Nestled between the Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges, Revelstoke is boasting “open spaces, big mountains” and throwing a few perks to tourists. Guests can ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster singletrack rail for free when they book two nights, or receive 25 per cent off a round of golf with their stay at select hotels in the mountain community.
In southeastern B.C., Cranbrook Tourism is promising that British Columbians and Albertans won’t run into any crowds in the East Kootenay community, which has hundreds of lakes and rivers for canoeing, kayaking, and whitewater paddling.
“That’s our proposition is that we’ve got those wide open spaces,” Cranbrook Tourism executive director Kristy Jahn-Smith told Global News.
That uncrowded theme continues on B.C.’s west coast, where Ucluelet’s mayor says his community is a good spot “if you’re looking to hide out and not run into too many people during the day.”
Mayor Mayco Noël describes Ucluelet, 40 kilometres south of Tofino, as a more rugged, low-key and sometimes cheaper alternative to the international surf destination – with family-friendly trails, an aquarium, and world-class salmon fishing.
“If you’re looking for that spot you can have your kid walk around with a mustard stain on his T-shirt as he grabs a burger,” said Noël.
“Definitely you’re very welcomed in our community.”
In northern B.C., Tumbler Ridge is home to the province’s first dinosaur bone beds and one of North America’s five UNESCO Global Geoparks, areas recognized as having internationally significant geological heritage.
“You’re truly missing out if you’ve never been,” said Braiden Stephenson, a Geopark Visitor Centre Counsellor.
The Geopark, which is known for its paleontology finds, caves, waterfalls, mountain peaks and dinosaur footprints, is offering a limited number of free summer guided hikes to British Columbians who are family members, and they’re booking up quickly.
“The amount of B.C. residents that we’ve been receiving that have never been to Tumbler Ridge has been crazy,” Stephenson told Global News.
Visitors who really want to go back in time can check out the Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation’s Dinosaur Discovery Gallery, which holds a fossil collection spanning over 200 million years. Pre-booked dinosaur tracksite tours are also available to members of the same household.