Spoiled Alert: If the smell of mildewed sleeping bags and the thought of schlepping your own tent, not showering for a few days and using leaves for toilet paper are not your cup of Dom Pérignon, Vancouver-based interior designer Lucille Fares of LMF International has the solution to your camping quandary.
She has designed Rockwater Secret Cove Resort’s permanent luxury tenthouse suites, the first of their kind in Canada. Sequestered amid a lush rain forest near Sechelt, overlooking the Georgia Strait along British Columbia’s spectacular Sunshine Coast, the tents channel memories of Swiss Family Robinson and Tarzan.
“I wanted the 16-by-24-foot tents to look like a scalloped bird’s wing on steel cables, hovering above the sea and forest,” says Fares.
She worked closely with Kerkhoff Engineering, as each tent was built on a 24-by-24-foot platform facing the ocean, atop solid-steel stilts embedded and cemented into the rock face throughout towering Douglas firs and arbutus trees.
The luxury tents are made with Sunbrella canvas fabric with casements of zippered screens and roll-down plastic for inclement weather. Interiors were designed with all the senses in mind: Upon entering the fir-trimmed glass doors, the smell of the locally built cedar and fir furniture and king-size bed is instant aromatherapy. A ceiling fan attached to a glass and canvas cupola draws the eye upward to silhouettes of leaves and branches. Stunning grey, tan and honey-flecked slate tiles offer radiant in-floor heating for cool mornings.
The subtly lit 1,500-foot meandering cedar boardwalk suspended above a ravine has private staircases leading to each tent and resembles a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“The resort was formerly an old nondescript fishing lodge, Lord Jim’s, bought in 2005 by Rockwater Properties, a partnership in Calgary,” explains general manager Dikran Zabunyan. “The vision was to create a unique, upscale, rejuvenating experience with nature, in which luxury tents would enhance – not compete with – the environment.”
Born in Britain, brought up in Egypt and East Africa, Fares lived in Dubai for 18 years before moving to West Vancouver. Her travels and love of beautiful textiles (she is the Canadian agent for Fermoie Fabrics, the British brand created by Farrow & Ball founders Tom Helme and Martin Ephson) have influenced her sense of style. She’s designed interiors for private homes, hotels and a consulate in the Middle East, Europe and the Orient.
“The real test of Rockwater’s tenthouse suites came during a severe wind and rain storm shortly after their completion. Everything was still standing and intact – that’s the best news a designer can have!” says a beaming Fares.
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