Like anything in life, hope and expectations play a role in how we react emotionally. If expectations are not met, we may feel disappointment or even frustration. If an experience goes beyond our expectations, we feel happy or satisfied. In an effort to create realistic expectations and positive mental preparation, here are a few unique details to keep in mind.
Cabana Desolation is a seasonal eco-resort built on a remote island. There is no other resort located in Desolation Sound.
Why is it necessary to mention this? Creating a resort in a remote area with many land-use restrictions was no simple task. Our journey began in 2008 and it took until 2014 to prepare this unique product for guests. Certain features that may be expected in a more built-up resort could simply not be included in Cabana Desolation. For us, this was perfectly fine. Our goal was to create a unique experience that did not fit the mould of a built-up resort – and to accomplish something no one else has done. Cabana Desolation is exclusive, personal and a truly one-of-a-kind eco-resort experience located in a beautiful part of the British Columbia coast.
Our original concept was to use yurts for the accommodations – these traditional, nomadic tents seemed like a good fit for an eco-resort that was seeking to connect guests with nature. After much research, it was decided a cabin – or cabana – constructed from locally milled western red cedar and Douglas fir would provide an experience more suitable to the west coast of British Columbia.
We also liked the idea of having solid walls versus some type of vinyl/canvas material. The cabanas are basically “skinned” with wood – with no insulation and, of course, no wiring. We hope guests enjoy the rich, natural woods, cozy comforts and natural connectedness of these uniquely designed cabanas.
The Staff & Service
Our staff at Cabana Desolation – the guides that paddle with you and the cooks that lovingly prepare your meals – wear many hats in the performance of their duties. They are your tour guides, information centres, cooks, servers, cleaners, dishwashers, baristas and weather interpreters.
We are a small resort with a maximum capacity of 10-12 guests, and we focus on building relationships with our visitors that often endure far beyond the end of the tour. Cabana staff are genuine, passionate, knowledgable and professional, and it is this quality of service that sometimes surprisingly sticks with our guests when they are recommending our resort to their family and friends.
For guests that value creative meals made from fresh, local ingredients, created from scratch and prepared lovingly before your own eyes, you will be impressed with the variety, quality and diversity of the cuisine created at Cabana Desolation.
However, a la carte we are not. The remote and off-grid nature of our resort makes it impossible to offer the unlimited menu choices available at traditional resorts and restaurants. All our perishable food and ingredients that are used in our meals need to be boated in at the start of each package.
Therefore we operate from a set menu that has been developed and refined to allow maximum flexibility based on our guests’ food preferences, allergies and intolerances.
We encourage our guests to enjoy the unique and delicious creations that are served each day on our remote island. As one past guest wrote in our guest book: “Anticipation of what came out of the kitchen was part of the extraordinary experience!”
We have flush toilets! I know, you’re thinking: ‘big deal’. However, for 20 years guests on our regular kayak camping trips typically had to dig cat holes and occasionally had the ‘luxury’ of a pit toilet. The goal at Cabana Desolation was to offer guests an alternative to pit toilets – something… nicer. In consideration of the remoteness, the environmental sensitivities, the minimal water supply (we’re on an island, after all) and the amount of water typical toilets use, we knew this was going to be a challenging task.
With the discovery of a unique 1 pint-per-flush toilet, we were able to achieve our goal. Although we cannot have a toilet at each cabana, we do have three cedar toilet structures with flushing toilets – and we hope guests appreciate the luxury of a flush toilet in this remote setting. For those needing a bathroom while out paddling or hiking, well, that is an entirely different experience…
As with toilets, our goal with the showers was to provide a feature that simply cannot be provided on our regular kayak tours. The challenge here, once again, was water: how to supply it, how to heat it and what to do with it when finished using it. After much indecision and research, it was decided that a gravity-pressure, on-demand hot water system would be provided for each cabana’s shower. Yes, each cabana has its own cedar-enclosed shower!
We hope the ability to have a hot shower is a luxury that enhances your experience. As our water supply is quite limited, we ask guests to help us conserve water by limiting their length of showers to a maximum of 5 minutes – enough to get clean and feel refreshed. We understand this may seem a bit limiting, however, water conservation is extremely important and your understanding with the challenges of providing fresh water in a remote island setting is thankfully appreciated.
The Guided Kayaking (for those on our Guided Kayaking Package)
Each day, one of our guides will lead our guests to a unique destination. Typically a delicious lunch freshly prepared by our cabana cooks will be enjoyed shore-side, and then followed by an afternoon paddle back to Kinghorn. Joining a guided tour sometimes means choosing to go-with-the-flow. We will do our best to meet the needs and desires of each paddler and to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
It is important to note that at its heart, Cabana Desolation is a kayaking-in-and-out eco resort. While our guides are wonderful, helpful, and incredibly hard working, at times guests will need to help out a little, especially with lifting kayaks and carrying some things up and down the intertidal area at both the resort and when you stop for lunch.
Desolation Sound is renowned for it’s steep and rocky shoreline – with oysters and barnacles living in the intertidal zone – and guests should be aware that this environment is very distinct from the sandy beaches often found on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Our small capacity and remote location mean that we can’t have a huge team of staff on hand at all times (though we still do run our trips at close to a 2:1 ratio of guests to staff). Guests should be aware that a small amount of physical exertion when landing, and travelling across this uneven and rocky terrain, is inevitable.
Paddling speed is another point of communication. Ultimately we can only paddle as fast as the slowest paddler. Our goal is less about speed and more about providing an intimate experience with such wonderful features as the intertidal marine life and beautiful scenery.
Note that the kayaks that you elect to paddle to and from the resort (i.e. singles or doubles) will be the kayaks that you will be paddling with for the entire trip. It is not possible to switch between doubles and singles – unless you are doing this within your group – while the package is running.
We have been running wilderness kayak trips since 1995 – and we strive to improve our offerings every year. Apart from the unique comforts of Cabana, our trips this year provide significantly more than what our trips provided 10 or 15 years ago. Despite that, guest comments 10 or 15 years ago were fabulous. In a world of increasing gratification, we hope each of our guests’ appreciates the wonderful details that go into enhancing the entire experience in this beautiful environment.
As you will see under the gear list, we mention bringing a positive attitude. We can’t stress this enough. Of the things under our control, we have plenty of experience and will do a very good job. However, there are many things we can’t control, such as the weather. For all the things we can’t control, it is up to each individual to choose a positive attitude. With that, we are very confident you will have an awesome experience!
This is the west coast of British Columbia. While generally during the summer the weather and temperature at Cabana Desolation is consistently warm and dry, guests need to know that at any time of year the climate of coastal British Columbia can change rapidly, and you should be prepared for the potential of cooler, wetter, windier weather during your stay.
As you will see below in our ‘What to Bring’ section, a positive attitude and expectation is absolutely essential when traveling, especially when you are visiting a unique and remote eco resort such as ours. While the sun and warmth are certainly ingredients for a great trip, many of our most memorable packages in the past have experienced days of higher winds and that classic west coast rain!