Total bliss.

That's my main thought as I sit on the upper deck of the floating lodge, letting the sunshine warm my legs after a kayak and a dip in the salty waves in front of me. In the lounge to my right, guests sip cognac, read books and play card games. Behind me is the spa, where I'll warm up in the sauna and steam room before drifting to sleep in my private room on the anchored barge.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

For an area populated by remote fishing lodges—there are about 15 in total—Ocean House is somewhat of an anomaly. This luxury eco-lodge has 12 rooms (for a total occupancy of 24 guests) and is operating at about 60 per cent capacity in its first season. Unlike its sister fishing lodge, Englefield, guests don’t come here to catch fish and drink beer; they’re here for a spiritual, cultural and natural connection to the land and its people. Ocean House puts guests in direct contact with some of the most unique, historical aspects of Haida Gwaii through daily tours to ancient villages, locally sourced dining options and free-to-use kayaks and SUPs. It's the most luxurious access-to-adventure accommodation I've ever experienced.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

But you’d be missing a large part of the experience by just asking what, and not who, Ocean House is. From the 19-year-old cultural interpreter with an astonishing singing voice to the artist-in-residence jeweller from Hydaburg in Alaska, most of the staff hired for the season come from local communities. “Is this a good job to have here?” I ask some of the staff while lounging on a pebbly beach.

“The best,” is the unanimous answer.

I have to admit, I quite like being a pampered guest myself. From every window, the view of the turquoise water—protected from the wild Pacific Ocean by a forested, mountainous island—never grows old.

photo

During my four-night stay, I learn about culturally modified trees (CMTs), house frontal poles (you might know them as totem poles), traditional longhouses and Haida form lines in art. I wander through the spruce, pine and cedar forest, trekking across bouncy, spongey moss and through deep, squishy mud. I paddle in the sheltered bay, swatting away horseflies and admiring the quiet beauty of the Peel Inlet, feeling like little more than a ripple on a wave.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Staying at Ocean House feels like being served in my own home. I put my feet up on the comfortable furniture, adventure at my leisure and chat amiably with the fellow guests, mostly couples in their 60s. There's no cell service and only spotty WiFi, so I devour two books in as many days. The atmosphere is decidedly relaxed; even the doors to the rooms don’t have locks. One of the prominent staff members, Rodney, tells me, “when you arrive, you’re our guest. But when you leave, you’re family.”

As I board the helicopter to travel back to Sandspit and onto Vancouver, I’m not sure I'm ready to leave the wilderness to go back to the city’s concrete and traffic. But beyond the stunning photographs, new friendships and souvenirs, I’m taking something else with me: a serene sense of peace, of bliss, of reconnecting with nature—and myself.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

If you go:

Budget: Ocean House is an all-inclusive luxury eco-lodge—and the price-tag reflects that. A four-night stay like mine starts at $5,880, not including alcoholic beverages, optional excursions and massage/spa treatments.

Packing: With a strict baggage weight limit of 25 lbs, be diligent in your clothing choices. Versatile outdoors wear, sturdy walking shoes/sneakers and a bathing suit are musts. Although dinners are informal, it’s a wise idea to bring something fresh to change into for the evening.

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Dates: Ocean House is now booking for the 2019 season, which will run from the end May to the beginning of September.

Book: Visit oceanhouse.ca

photoAlison Karlene Hodgins

Disclaimer: This article was provided as part of a press trip hosted by Ocean House Lodge. All opinions are my own.

 

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