Kwa'Lilas Hotel-5

Located just up the hill from Port Hardy’s boardwalk, in the traditional territories of the Kwakiutl people, is two-year old boutique Kwa’lilas Hotel. Translating to “a place to sleep”, the hotel was named by the Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw elders.

Kwa'Lilas Hotel

In 1964, the Canadian government moved both the Gwa’sala and the ‘Nakwaxda’xw people from their traditional territories to the current location in Tsulquate – Port Hardy, the northernmost town on the island.

Kwa'Lilas Hotel-8

Walking into the lobby, we’re greeted with a modern seating area flanked by a beautiful panelled copper mural embossed with First Nations designs.

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Rooms

The hotel’s 85 guest rooms feature First Nations decor, from the lovely illuminated headboard to a steel side panel where the coffee maker (with packs of Spirit Bear Coffee) and mini fridge are located. The room is simply furnished but very comfortable, as are the mattresses and bedding! Sound sleeps all around.

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A cozy chair with reading lamp, work desk with flatscreen TV and lamp and an in-closet safe also feature in the modern rooms. There is climate control but we’re happier with an open window, which this room provides. There’s nothing like fresh ocean and mountain air to sooth the soul after a long day of travel.

Kwa'Lilas Hotel-2

As with all hotels during the pandemic, housekeeping is not available during your stay, however extra toiletries, towels or garbage removal is as easy as phoning reception.

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Dining

Kwa’Lilas is currently renovating its signature restaurant, ha’me, however Nax’id Pub is open for lunch, dinner and evening cocktails.

During our stay, we enjoyed a delicious and hearty K’utala (salmon) platter complete with house-smoked wild salmon, candied salmon, cold-smoked lox and smoked salmon mousse with bannock crisps, as well as a filling portion of Pacific cod and chips in a casual atmosphere (with lots of screens for catching up on hockey playoffs).

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Other menu favourites include the Kwa’lilas rice bowl, steak sandwiches, Nax’id wings and the Blunden Harbour roll (cold-smoked lox, crab, avocado, roasted red peppers and cucumber wrapped in a Panko crust then deep fried).

Nax’id Pub sees an equal mix of locals and hotel guests — dining options in Port Hardy are limited this year due to COVID. For breakfast, the lobby cafe serves fresh pastries, coffee, breakfast sandwiches and homemade granola with yogurt.

An small on-site gift shop and art gallery sells local, Aboriginal art and souvenirs curated by a community of elders. There’s free wifi throughout the property as well.

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Area Attractions

Port Hardy is primarily a fishing village, with several local fishing charter operators offering packages ranging from single- to multi-day trips. Most we talked with charge a standard $140/hour with a five-hour minimum, and you’ll need to grab a fishing licence online and hope that some of the best sport fishing in the world will yield a solid catch.

Port Hardy

Along the harbour is a boardwalk that winds along the length of the small downtown area and there are dozens of local hikes as well as kayaking and whale- and grizzly bear watching tours.

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Part of Kwa’Lilas Hotel, k’awat’si Tours is a local First Nations operator that’s recently begun offering eco tours & Indigenous cultural experiences, ranging from cedar weaving to drum making, plus guided tours of Quatse Salmon Stewardship Centre with a visit to Storey’s Beach. They also offer wildlife tours and trips down the Nakwakto River rapids, the fastest navigable tidal rapids on Earth. These tours will likely resume operation in 2021.

BC Ferries-2

We travelled to Port Hardy via the BC Ferries Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay sailing.

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An update on sailing with BC Ferries: If your car is loaded on a lower (enclosed) vehicle deck, you must get out of your car during the sailing. Transport Canada has rescinded the temporary option of passengers allowed to remain in their vehicles on enclosed vehicle decks. If however you’re loaded on an upper (open) car deck, you may remain in your car.

BC Ferries
[Alert Bay BC Ferries Terminal]

The Transport Canada regulation affects these routes only:
Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay
Tsawwassen – Duke Point
Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay
Powell River – Comox
Tsawwassen – Southern Gulf Islands

Kwa'Lilas Hotel-10
[Ocean view suite]

Billed as Port Hardy’s premier First Nations destination hotel, Kwa’Lilas is located at 9040 Granville Street in Port Hardy, BC.

Kwa'Lilas Hotel-12
[Ocean view suite]

We were graciously hosted by Kwa’Lilas Hotel for the purpose of this feature. Opinions, as always, remain our own.

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