We’re a pretty satisfied bunch, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t covetous. Sometimes we see things out there that we just must have. Cool Things We Want is an archive of those earthly desires.
We all need things to look forward to right now, which is why I’ve had my eye on a new Japanese-inspired boutique hotel that’s been taking shape on Bowen Island. When finished, the humble Kitoki Inn will consist of three clean-lined, self-contained cedar cabins with floor-to-ceiling windows, plus a Japanese-style bathhouse — all located on a private three-acre property that backs onto forested parkland. The name roughly translates as “feeling of being in the forest”.
How’s that for some light at the end of the tunnel?
Kitoki is just a 20-minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay, which is to say it has the potential to be a perfectly convenient place to escape from the city and decompress. Local designer Jon Reed is currently working with Kennedy Construction and PM Homes to complete the project by summer, but the immersive website (with branding by Glasfurd + Walker) is live now and reservations are already being accepted.
Full disclosure: owner-operator Mitsumi Kawai is pretty dear to me. She used to work with us at Scout and was the owner of Tofino’s Kuma Restaurant and Bowen Island’s Shika Provisions. To further pedigree, her parents and sister Moeno were the charmers behind East Hastings’ beloved Basho Cafe. She’s one of the kindest, most hospitable people on the planet, and this is what she was born to do.
“Mits” and her husband, Rob Leadley, are aiming to craft a calming environment that steers guests towards relaxation through exposure to nature. “We’re inspired by the subtle service approach we witnessed in our travels to Japan where it feels like every detail is considered and orchestrated behind the scenes to make a guest feel completely at ease.” Mitsumi says.
I recently took the opportunity to visit Kitoki during its construction. I walked through cabins and stood under the elegant roof of the soon-to-be onsen, or bathhouse. I touched textiles, tasted tea and listened to Mits explain her vision. By the time I left, it was clear to me that – from construction materials and sight lines to the softest towels on earth, and the ginger house-made granola – every choice made has been to make guests feel completely at ease, free to become absorbed in the thousands of shades of green in the forest and the restorative powers of the onsen.
More From Kitoki:
“From design to decor to service, Kitoki embraces the local and the sustainable. Kitoki guests will enjoy organic bath and skincare products from Bowen-based luxury brand Sangre de Fruta, coffee from Vancouver roastery Modus, and comfy, eco-friendly bedding from Takasa Lifestyle Company. Bowen jewelry designer Miki Tanaka and industrial designer Bob Schultz have been commissioned to craft the inn’s signage, while interiors will feature custom millwork by Squamish-based Van Urban Timber that repurposes trees from Kitoki’s property. One-of-a-kind handicraft by Mitsumi and her parents, Miju and Hiroshi, imbue the inn with the warmth and comfort that is Kitoki’s signature.”
Have a look at some of the photos I took below and visit the Kitoki website here. As mentioned, summer reservations are open. Once word gets out and we get the green light to travel, I expect the place to book up fast.