For customers seeking a socially-distanced stay, Canada offers plenty to sway, writes Laura French.
Extraordinary wildlife, friendly people, mesmerising landscapes and world class cities – Canada is abundant in many things, and for those who want to escape from it all, few places beat its vast mountain ranges and rolling prairies, its deserted coastlines and quaint fishing villages.
It makes the country an excellent bet for clients who want a bit of peace and quiet, where you can be the sole visitors for miles around, accompanied only by the sound of wildlife flitting through the forest or the crash of the waves on the shore.
“Canada is abundant in many things, and for those who want to escape from it all, few places beat its vast mountain ranges and rolling prairies, its deserted coastlines and quaint fishing villages.”
That sort of escape has never been more in demand than now, when personal space and social distance have earned new definitions, and the prospect of having the landscapes to yourself has even more appeal.
With that in mind we’ve put together a guide to some of the most-secluded places to stay, from hideaway lodges to working ranches, back-to-nature campsites to luxury spa retreats and plenty in between.
Best for wildlife: Killarney Lodge, Ontario
Whether it’s Banff, Jasper or Cape Breton Highlands, Canada isn’t short on head-turning national parks – but for a quieter alternative, look to the country’s smattering of provincial parks. Among them you’ll find Algonquin, a lush, forested expanse in southeastern Ontario, where red-orange maple trees cover the hills; moose, bears and wolves roam the forests; and lakes stud the landscapes.
“Killarney Lodge is a family-run wilderness retreat set on a serene lake, where riverside log cabins have their own canoes and hiking and biking trails criss-cross the landscapes.”
There is no shortage of peaceful spots to stay here, but for an especially serene option, Premier Holidays recommends Killarney Lodge, a family-run wilderness retreat set on a serene lake, where riverside log cabins have their own canoes, hiking and biking trails criss-cross the landscapes and wildlife-watching tours allow guests to glimpse the array of colourful creatures that call this scenery home. Fishing, kayaking and paddleboarding are among its list of activities, while hearty cuisine, roaring log fires and cabins without phones and TVs ensure a proper country escape.
Book it: Premier Holidays offers a five-night holiday including three nights at the Hilton Toronto (room-only) and two nights at Killarney Lodge (full board) from £1,175, including flights from Gatwick and five days’
car hire, departing May 12, 2021.
Best for wellness: Sonora Resort, British Columbia
If you haven’t yet heard of the Discovery Islands, it’s time to put them on your radar. Tucked between the mainland and Vancouver Island, this cluster of isles remains something of a secret to many, meaning it’s chock-full of serene, unspoilt spots where you can have the landscapes to yourself.
For an especially secluded place to stay suggest Sonora Resort, where mineral pools, hot tubs and a full-service spa – offering a hydrotherapy circuit, yoga and an array of treatments – sit amid the silent wilderness. Activities include salmon fishing, whale-watching and bear-spotting, with accommodation spread among 12 separate lodges, plus two private villas with wood beams, stone fireplaces and self-playing pianos for those wanting to up the exclusivity an extra notch.
“For an especially secluded place to stay suggest Sonora Resort, where mineral pools, hot tubs and a full-service spa sit amid the silent wilderness.”
Book it: Prestige Holidays offers a seven-night trip in the region from £3,698, including three nights’ room-only at Sutton Place Hotel in Vancouver and four nights’ full board at Sonora Resort with two eco-adventure tours, plus helicopter transfers to the resort and return flights from London, departing May 8, 2021.
Best for activities: Historic Reesor Ranch, Saskatchewan
For clients looking for a tranquil retreat with a twist, consider Canada’s ranches, where guests can get fully involved with the workings of the land while soaking up nature’s charms. Historic Reesor Ranch, located just outside Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan, dishes up the latter in spades, with swathes of green surrounding a handful of olde-worlde cabins and barns, and quad-biking tours, hiking trails and cattle-wrangling adventures available alongside horse riding for all levels. “Set in a remote location, this is ideal for clients seeking real peace and tranquillity,” says Tony Daly, managing director for Ranch Rider. “The opportunity to participate in ranch life makes it truly authentic, with horse rides and all-terrain vehicle tours offering spectacular views over the Canadian Prairies.”
“For a tranquil retreat with a twist, consider Canada’s ranches, where guests can get fully involved with the workings of the land while soaking up nature’s charms.”
Book it: A seven-night stay with Ranch Rider costs from £1,206 including accommodation, meals and most ranch activities, based on travel between June 1 and September 30, 2021 (excluding flights).
Best for luxury: Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat, British Columbia
If touching down in a floatplane and waking up in a safari-style tent in the heart of the rainforest sounds like your client’s thing, look no further than Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat. This eco-friendly, high-end seasonal camp sits in the middle of a Unesco Bisophere Reserve on the edge of Vancouver Island and offers abseiling, rock climbing, wilderness workshops, horse riding and heli-trips as well as a spa, fine-dining restaurant and glass-fronted cocktail lounge where guests can watch black bears, otters and seals frolicking around.
“This eco-friendly, high-end seasonal camp sits in the middle of a Unesco Bisophere Reserve on the edge of Vancouver Island and offers abseiling, rock climbing and wilderness workshops.”
“Accessible only by seaplane, helicopter or boat, this is a truly remote, remarkable wilderness retreat,” says Sharon Mason, chief operating officer at First Class Holidays. “The luxury canvas tents have en-suite bathrooms, heated floors and private outdoor showers, and it’s all set in one of the last remaining ancient temperate rainforests in the world.”
Book it: A six-night trip with First Class Holidays, including two nights in Vancouver and four at Clayoquot Wilderness Retreat, costs from £9,249. Price includes Air Canada flights from London, return helicopter or floatplane transfers plus all meals, drinks and guided activities, based on departures in June 2021.
Best for camping: Wolf Creek Campground, The Yukon
For anyone wanting to properly immerse themselves in nature, nothing quite beats pitching up in an RV and sleeping under the stars. Canada’s national parks are scattered with campsites that offer the chance to do just that, but for some of the most remote experiences look to the Yukon, where snow-capped mountains, aqua-blue glaciers and ultramarine lakes form the backdrop for some rather memorable stays.
“Canada’s national parks are scattered with campsites that offer the chance to do just that, but for some of the most remote experiences look to the Yukon.”
Standout sites include Wolf Creek Campground – located just south of Whitehorse, where guests can watch Chinook salmon migrate – and Congdon Creek, which sits right by Kluane Lake and has bears roaming the shores.
Book it: Purely Travel has an eight-night RV holiday through the region taking in Whitehorse, Dawson City and Kluane National Park from £1,395 per person, based on two sharing and including one night at the Edgewater Hotel in Whitehorse, seven nights in a four‑berth motorhome with insurance and GPS, and flights from Heathrow, departing in June 2021.
Ask the expert
“There is so much to see and do in Canada, and so many ways to do it. For me it’s the great outdoors that makes this country so special. Every province offers unique encounters and opportunities to find peace and quiet.
“Spring and summer get the most visitors, especially May and June, so for clients wanting to escape the crowds, suggest the quieter seasons. Autumn is absolutely stunning with the fall colours, while a winter break here provides a totally different experience from what you’d get in Europe.
“If clients are concerned about booking in the current climate, highlight our peace of mind policy. If the Foreign Office advice changes or quarantine restrictions are put in place within 14 days of the scheduled departure and they don’t wish to travel, they can choose to change their dates or cancel their holiday and get a full refund.”
– Lee Rogers, product and commercial director, Canadian Affair
Four wilderness tours
For clients looking to get active in the wilderness, try one of these for size:
Exodus Travels has a series of remote hikes on its Canadian Rockies Wilderness Walks tour – including around Landslide Lakes, where guests will enjoy three nights’ wild camping in a remote spot reached by helicopter. The 13-day trip costs from £2,749 for summer 2021 departures (flights extra).
Ramblers Walking Holidays takes guests hiking in the lesser-known parts of the east on a 12-night French Quebec & New England trip. Highlights include walking the rugged trails of Baxter State Park and Acadia National Park, and exploring a section of the dramatic Appalachian Trail. Prices start at £4,099, including flights.
Explore has a 13-day Walking in the Canadian Rockies trip featuring off-the-beaten-track hikes in the Kananaskis Valley, Kootenay, Banff and Yoho national parks and beyond, with prices from £2,330 (excluding flights).
Trafalgar has added a six-day trip, Polar Bears in Manitoba, where guests can explore the icy tundras of northern Canada, with dog-sledding, northern lights viewing and polar bear spotting on the itinerary. From £4,902 excluding flights.