Opinion » Alta States

Seaside Dreams — Tofino, Long Beach Lodge and the Zen of staying still



"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean."

- Arthur C. Clarke

I'd just returned from a month-long epic in the Alps. Whistler's snow had just transitioned from winter pow to late spring schmoo. And the pain I was subjecting myself to on the hill just wasn't worth it anymore. My body was trashed. The message was clear: time to hang up the boards for a while. Still, the end-of-the-season blues were hitting me hard. What to do? What to do? That's when I got a call from the mayor of Tofino.

"Hey Michel," said the always-ebullient Perry Schmunk, "Why don't you come out to the West Coast for a couple of days? The Lodge is celebrating its tenth anniversary, you know, and I thought you might appreciate a change of scenery..." He paused for a beat. "Besides," he said, "we're launching our new Surf Centre this week. I figured you'd probably want to check that out too."

Hmm. Enticing. A few nights on the coast, great dining, stimulating conversation, a surfing session or three... 'twas the perfect cure, I figured, for my end-of-season blues. Not to mention a great excuse to visit with Perry and family. Already I could see myself trotting out into the break with my board underarm...

As regular readers of Alta States may remember, Whistler Blackcomb's former ski school director is now the general manager of Tofino's award-winning Long Beach Lodge. Nestled in the northern crook of Cox Bay — with some of the country's best surf breaking right outside the front door — Schmunk's seaside hotel is a beach-lover's dream destination.

It's not like the place is hugely fancy or anything. With a nod to Cape Cod architecture but a cedar shingle façade to celebrate its B.C. location and a plethora of windows to maximize its coastal sights the hotel is more about ambiance than accessories. People more than stuff. And this is where Perry has taken a page straight out of the Schwartz brothers operating manual at Lake Louise's iconic Post Hotel. Only with a surf motif instead of a mountain theme…

But wait a minute. I was in no shape to surf. My back was so wonky I was having trouble walking without pain. I would be doing myself way more harm than good by throwing myself in the water at this time of the year. Could I accept Perry's invitation and not surf? Was I mature enough to overcome the sirens' song of the sea? And what would I do in Tofino if I didn't surf? Wouldn't I get bored silly?

Decisions. Decisions. But in the end, I took Perry up on his offer. Call me curious. Call me a masochist. Whatever. I was convinced there was a lot more to do in Tofino than surf waves. Besides, I love the seashore as much as I love the mountains. So damn the torpedoes. I was in. As for staying out of the water, well, we'd just have to see how disciplined I could be...

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