3 Vancouver Island hotels rated among best in Canada

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel is shown: (Oak Bay Beach Hotel)

Vancouver Island is home to some of the most desirable hotels and resorts in the country, according to a new ranking by travel website Condé Nast Traveler.

On Tuesday, Condé Nast released its lists of top hotels by country and around the world, based on surveys completed by more than 800,000 Condé Nast users.

Three island establishments cracked the lists of most highly reviewed hotels and resorts in Canada for 2021.

The Oak Bay Beach Hotel was ranked the number one hotel in Canada, and ranked 19th in Condé Nast's list of best hotels across the world.

“We are ecstatic," said Oak Bay Beach Hotel General Manager Madone Pelan.

“We are over-the-moon excited. It's, of course, something we’ve always aspired to reach, but it was certainly a nice surprise at the end of such a challenging summer.”

The boutique seaside resort was noted for its Tudor-styled architecture, oceanside heated mineral pool and luxurious guest rooms. The hotel was also praised for its “in-house” dining choices, from handcrafted pizza at Faro restaurant to the ocean views from its historic pub known as “The Snug.”

Pelan says there is no doubt the Oak Bay Beach Hotel has the “most beautiful bricks and mortar in the country,” but none of it means anything without the people who work at the resort.

“From the moment you arrive and are greeted by our welcome ambassador at the front door, our staff make every effort to connect in meaningful ways to make every guest’s stay memorable,” she said.

Pelan also attributes Conde Nast’s number one ranking to how the hotel’s staff navigated the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. She says early in the pandemic her team decided to focus on the things they could control, such as removing all of the common touch points throughout the hotel and increasing service levels to compensate for the amenities taken away due to pandemic restrictions.

“Our approach at the beginning of the pandemic was a little counterintuitive in the sense that we decided to bring all of our staff back as quickly as possible, even when the business models didn’t warrant it,” said Pelan. “We brought everyone back by July 2020 and focused in on what we could improve, how we could keep them busy and at work.”

“We even had a motto, 'if you bring the staff back, the guests will come,' and it was true. It happened,” she said. 

Meanwhile, two other Vancouver Island resorts were named some of the most popular in Canada.

The Wickaninnish Inn, in Tofino, was named the second best resort in Canada for 2021, and the Brentwood Bay Resort & Spa in the South Island took home seventh place.

"It’s the people that make the place and this recognition means so much to our team who continually strive to create and enhance magical experiences for all our guests over the past 25 years," said Wickaninnish Inn owner, Charles McDiarmid, in a statement Tuesday, noting that 2021 marked the resort's 25th anniversary.

"We stand on the shoulders of everyone who has come before us and yet even after 25 years, we are continually working to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today," he said.

Tuesday's rankings marked the 34th annual Readers’ Choice Awards survey released Condé Nast Traveler.