604-987-5452 >> www.kingpacificlodge.com
An all-inclusive packageround-trip floatplane from Prince Rupert, guided hiking and kayaking, whale-watching, all meals and drinks, plus a 90-minute massagebegins at $2,100 per person for three nights.
YOU'RE IN A LUXURY floating lodge moored to uninhabited, 568,000-acre Princess Royal Island in the heart of northern British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest: a realm of deep fjords, islands thick with old-growth red cedars, and astounding vertical relief. Stand at the edge of the craggy, exposed rock of the ridgelines and you feel like you're on top of the worldat sea level. The channels below teem with salmon, halibut, and killer and humpback whales, and the forest behind you is home to the rare white kermode ("spirit") bear.
AT THE LODGE It doesn't seem possible, but this 17-room, 20,000-square-foot structure, with its soaring atrium, is built on a barge that gets hauled 90 miles back to Prince Rupert in the fall. Despite the lodge's portability, which has kept development off the island, no detail has been sparedfrom the edge-grain fir tables and forged-iron chandeliers to the slate floors, red cedar walls, massive pine columns, and quarter-sawn fir beams. Rooms are big enough for a king-size bed plus a couple of cushy chairs positioned for gazing out over Barnard Harbor. Alex Rolland, a young chef from Quebec, astounds with his fresh fish and shellfish creationsyet uses a light touch, going easy on the beurre.
THE SPORTS Most gueststypically cost-is-no-object fly-fishing gentry and splurging honeymoonerscome for the summerlong parade of salmon or for catch-and-release fly-casting (rainbow, cutthroat, and steelhead) in streams on Princess Royal and neighboring islands. Or you can join Norm or Chris, the resident naturalists, and head off on a different hike or sea-kayak paddle every day, or just motor out to watch the spectacle of 45-foot humpbacks breaching and feeding.
BACKCOUNTRY FORAY The lodge can set you up for, say, a three-day paddle out the door and up through the tide-induced reversing rapids of Princess Royal's Cornwall Inlet and past a Gitga'at longhouse. Set up beach camps and hike up the Cornwall Creek for the off chance of a kermode sighting. Or have a guide motor you to the east side of Campania Island, which you can traverse the easy way (through meadows and stunted forests) or the hard way (up 2,398-foot Mount Pender, along the ridges) and end up camping on the west side of Wolf Track Beach. A lodge boat will meet you there a few days later.