Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort is one of a kind — the rare combination of luxury and adventure that strikes the perfect note for outdoors-loving families who don’t want to sacrifice creature comforts. Located in the middle of the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, it’s a secret hideaway in spectacular, serene surroundings.
The resort was started by Craig and Debra Murray as a fishing lodge in the 1980s and is now run by their son Fraser and his wife Becky. It is evident that the Murray family has poured their heart and soul into this place. From the friendly but unintrusive staff and the knowledgeable guides to the beautiful chalets and the sublime food, Nimmo Bay is one of those gems you’re lucky to experience just once in your lifetime.
With just nine cabins, the resort can accommodate between 18 and 30 guests at a time, which preserves the air of peace. Six of the cabins are on the water and the remaining three face the waterfall that is not only beautiful but also powers the resort.
The attention to detail is what makes Nimmo Bay stand out: freshly baked cookies in the room each day; reusable water bottles; fridge stocked with local beers; complimentary laundry service. Guests hardly have to ask for a thing, as the staff seems to anticipate every need. After a day in the outdoors, we found a note saying that our wet clothes had been hung in the resort’s dry room for us.
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The food was beyond our expectations (and this is coming from a foodie from New York). All of the baked goods are homemade with the freshest local ingredients, from the scrumptious muffin of the day at breakfast to the energy bars in our picnic lunches. Appetizers and cocktails are served each evening on the deck, where guests can mingle and recount the day’s experiences. The staff are extremely accommodating of any special requests or dietary restrictions.
Days at Nimmo Bay are packed with outdoor adventure, and all activities are included in the rates. We met with Francesco, the head guide, each evening to discuss plans for the following day. Choices include whale watching, hiking, kayaking expeditions and bear scouting, just to name a few. Guests who prefer to stay at the lodge can paddleboard, schedule a private yoga or Pilates session, play a game of pool or curl up with a good book and enjoy the view.
Scouting for humpback whales in the waters near the resort is quite different from typical whale watching tours. We were on a boat with only two other guests and two guides, and we passed just two other boats the entire day. During our ride, we came across several playful pods of dolphins that would swim in the wake of our boat and then pass us as if they were racing.
For the ultimate experience, take a helicopter trip for the day. It’s not included and not cheap, but landing on icebergs and having lunch by a glacier — with more than 50,000 square miles of untouched wilderness virtually to yourselves — is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
We learned a valuable lesson from Francesco: There is no bad weather in British Columbia, just bad clothing! Although it rained two days during our visit, that did not stop us from enjoying the activities. We simply borrowed the appropriate gear from the dry room and set out for the day’s adventure.
During our stay, we were outnumbered two to one by the staff, an indication of how personal and attentive the service at Nimmo Bay is. Not only are the staff friendly and helpful, but some are quite talented musicians, and they performed after dinner as guests lounged in Adirondack chairs by the fire on the dock, with only the stars lighting up the sky.
Capping off the day in the cedar hot tub was my kids’ favorite. For me, the highlight was having a massage in a treehouse-style cabin overlooking the water with rain beating on the roof … nothing beats nature’s music.
A visit to the honor system resort store, thoughtfully stocked by Becky, is a must. Among other items, you’ll find the wonderful leather and shearling throws that are in the cabins and on the chairs by the fire pit for chilly evenings. The old-school record player in the lodge is another nice touch, and we enjoyed the awesome playlists.
Reaching Nimmo Bay takes a little bit of work, but the journey is part of the experience. Guests must first fly from Vancouver to Port Hardy, which itself is in the middle of nowhere, and then on to the resort via floatplane. The image of flying in over the pristine forest and Broughton Archipelago will forever linger in my mind.
It is amazing what the Murray family has created. We have traveled a lot and this is definitely one of the most idyllic experiences anyone could have on earth. The tradeoff for this exclusivity and remoteness is a hefty price tag, but for discerning families who love both the outdoors and 5-star amenities, it’s well worth it.
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Editor’s Note: Ciao Bambino received a media package to review Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort for families. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Sandy Pappas except where noted.
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