Corporate style with a host of activities at King Pacific Lodge

Barnard Harbour, Princess Royal Island, British Columbia

King Pacific Lodge

King Pacific Lodge is another floating lodge that proudly boasts the highest prices for fishing lodges in British Columbia, and certainly caters to an exclusive crowd as well as some serious fisherman. Ex vice-president Dan Quayle was a guest during our stay, and Kevin Costner is a regular along with many other notables. The lodge is remote and only accessible by boat or sea plane and is located on Princess Royal Island. The adventure starts with an early morning breakfast at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, followed by an Air Canada Jazz flight (their regional airline) to Prince Rupert that takes a couple of hours before you are whisked away to the lodge by bus and then seaplane.

On arrival at the lodge the crew is standing by to greet the new arrivals, and before you get a chance to freshen up in your room you are set down for a gourmet lunch, and given a choice of what activities you fancy doing that day. Every evening the guides come round to plan your next day, but because the weather up here is so unpredictable, especially later in the season, plans change constantly. In fact we had to stay over an extra day because of a heavy storm, but to the crew's credit they handled all the changed travel plans and connecting flights with consummate ease.

This lodge in particular also likes to know as much as possible about arriving guests, so be prepared for extensive advance questionnaires along with detailed instructions on what to wear and what to bring. If you run out of cigarettes for example during your stay, the lodge carries a minimal stock on hand, but discourages the use of the internet, and satellite phone calls run about $2 a minute. Getting back to clothing - a decent pair of hiking boots are essential along with hiking pants, a fleece jacket and rain proof pants for rain forest hikes.

Princess Royal is the only place where the legendary white spirit Kermode bear can be found in its natural habitat, and as such gives the lodge great pulling power. One of the best spots to try and spot this bear or even a grizzly, is the Whalen Lake where a short but tricky hike through a rain forest provides a great spot for bear watching with a spectacular waterfall in the background, and a river stocked with giant salmon. There are also hundreds of grey wolves, Sitka deer, Orcas, porpoises, whales, sea lions and river otters. It is the fourth largest island in British Columbia. Another great hike is Cameron Cove with it's bald eagles, ravens and all kinds of birds in it's inter tidal zone, and this is an easy cove to visit by kayak from the lodge. All the programs here are fully guided tours, with the sea kayaking offering all the required safety equipment and instructions geared towards a novice or an expert.

The three meals a day served here from a tiny kitchen are prepared by Montreal native Alex Rolland. Unfortunately he will not be back next season as he is opening his own French bistro in Montreal, but he has assured management that his staff will be returning, and the new chef will carry on in the some gastronomic tradition. An enthusiastic thumbs up from the other guests is endorsed by this writer, who loved the freshness of the food, and the French/Canadian influence. A good example of Alex's cuisine would be the appetizer of Crispy Side Striped Prawns with a Celeriac Apple Remoulade and Grainy Mustard with a Horseradish Emulsion. Main courses feature lamb, veal etc, and a strong selection of salmon main courses such as the Grilled Coho Salmon with a sweet corn chive emulsion, and served with a roasted squash pea risotto and baby green beans. It is also remarkable how excellent the food is, merely because of the difficulty in getting daily supplies flown in to such a remote location. During the winter the lodge/barge is towed back to Prince Rupert until the following Spring when the process begins all over again.

A games room at King Pacific Lodge was barely used by the guests the first couple of days we were there. After dinner most of the guests seemed to drift off to their rooms at a ridiculously early hour, but finally the last couple of nights a shuffleboard tournament changed the mood of the place. Maybe it was because Dan Quayle had already drifted off by then, but the mood and atmosphere improved remarkably. King Pacific Lodge remains a slight enigma for most people who knew of the place - high priced and exclusive, but still a bit snooty compared to some of it's competitors.

Air Canada has recently been voted the best airline in North America in a poll of business travelers and frequent flyers at a gala in London earlier this year that was attended by HRH the Duke of York. The OAG (Official Airline Guide) awards are voted by frequent flyer business travelers from around the world and organized by travel information publisher OAG. Results are independently verified by market information company, Taylor Nelson Sofres. Since its inception 20 years ago, the OAG awards have become coveted industry honors. The airline operates three classes of service: Hospitality, Executive and Executive First. They operate over 500 nonstop flights per day between the U.S. and Canada - more than any other airline.

Tel: 888.592.5464

King Pacific Lodge on the web

Mike Hepworth, October 2002

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