Ecolodge at the Tofino Botanical Gardens
Rooms from $90
When it comes to budget digs in Canada’s No. 1 surf city, there are a few options, but our family loves the homey, über-casual Ecolodge at the Tofino Botanical Gardens. Beyond the big, roomy communal kitchen that’s always impeccable are loads of board games, slouchy furniture and plenty of interesting folk—from other families and students, to long-haul travellers and researchers.
Rooms vary from typical two-bunk bed-to-a-room configurations to the four newly appointed private queens—but try to nab the coveted Forest Suite. With a separate bedroom for parents, this cheery corner unit has a single bed in the living room/kitchen area, with plenty of room for an extra cot.
With its own ensuite—the others share bathrooms— it’s perched on a second-floor corner, and is framed by Tofino’s 12-acre Botanical Garden (that gets lashed with 10 feet of rain a year, making it the wettest botanical garden on the planet). The absurdly cute Darwin’s Café, where you can always get a frothy latte and a sweet treat is down the garden path.
Pacific Sands Beach Resort
Rooms from $180
It's a sign of the times: Pacific Sands’ new check-in area is all about family ease. That’s right: times have become so frantic, this resort in Tofino, BC, seems to think guests could use a break the moment they arrive—and, apparently, a simple basket of apples doesn’t cut it anymore.
Instead, guests can order a latte, pick up a frozen pizza, a litre of zippy fish curry or a hearty white-bean chili—care of the legendary Sobo restaurant—right in the lobby. Pacific Sands has always had full kitchens in all of its 77 units, but if you wanted to whip up a meal, it meant a seven-kilometre trip into town to the Co-op or the wee Beeches grocery store.
“After driving four hours from Victoria… well, who wants to do that?” says Stephen Peters, who has brought some big-city ideas from Vancouver, where he was hotel manager at Pan Pacific for 15 years, to this beachside resort on Cox Bay.
Not only can you now get fuelled at check-in, but you can borrow one of 500 videos or rent a beach cruiser bike. Don’t feel like making brekkie? Pacific Sands stocks eggs, milk and a few staples at check-in, but just alert the staff and a little blue bag will appear at your door at 8 a.m., full of yogurt, granola, fruit, juice and a warm muffin.
Views of the thudding surf from the 22 villas are tough to beat, but every unit, right down to the 520-sq.-ft. Lighthouse suites, has what you need—a kitchen, fireplace, comfy mattress, LCD big-screens and the ever-vital yellow slicker and brollie.
Summer prices for villas start at $620, but from now until spring, you and your family can lounge around in full luxe from $320 a night. A storm-watching package in one of the 520-sq.-ft Lighthouse units features a seven-night stay for $117 a night.