Sarah Cruse always wanted to be the GM of a hotel resort. With that specific focus guiding her, she graduated from college as a golf-course superintendent, securing her first position at Banff Springs golf course. At the time, she was only the second female golf-course superintendent in Canada. “That was a “WOW” moment for myself and my career, which developed me into the leader I am today,” explains Cruse. After graduating from Cornell University’s hotel program, she landed in the U.S. at the Quail Resort in Carmel, Calif. “It was an extraordinary story of a beautiful resort and incredible owners. I continue to thrive on my memories of events we put together for guests and golf-course members. It was a life and career-defining experience for me.”
These days, Cruse is back at the Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, where she previously worked in 2016, until leaving to work in the U.S. for a few years. “It’s a very special property set among Mother Nature’s magnificent, unspoiled wilderness. Coming to Clayoquot for me, our team and our guests is a transformative, life-changing experience. The chance to connect with nature runs parallel to guests re-connecting with their loved ones and themselves.”
With a team of 95 associates, “The lodge’s philosophy is to tailor each guest’s stay to meet their sometimes unexpressed desires and needs. On meeting guests fresh off the exhilarating scenic seaplane flight in, we get a sense of what they’re looking for and start creating a personalized stay, whether it be adventures on horseback, hiking mountain trails, canoeing the Bedwell River or a relaxing getaway with spa treatments by the Clayoquot Sound, or a mixture of everything with fine food and wine to complete the picture.”
The lodge features 25 luxury tents, at a rate of $2,900 per tent, and a guest lodge that serves as an outpost with the onsite restaurant and bar. The tents are designed to offer an easy encounter with the natural environment. “Some are set overlooking Clayoquot Sound and others are nestled in the lush surroundings of the ancient rainforest,” says Cruse. “The design and style of our tents and guest areas allow a seamless interaction between the outdoors and in, so guests feel very much a part of the place.”
This past winter, Cruse oversaw the refurbishment of the Ivanhoe Bar and its outdoor areas to make the most of its incredible natural surroundings. “Guests can enjoy sitting by the rocky shore overlooking the Sound with a cocktail in hand, or gather round the new firepit in the evenings and toast up some s’mores.”
While the lodge caters to a mix of couples, solo travellers, and multi-generational families, Cruse says business travel has significantly increased since the pandemic, as companies have realized the benefit of connecting person-to-person, and in the case of Clayoquot, in natural surroundings.
BY ROSANNA CAIRA