Kitoki Inn brings BC's first Japanese bathhouse experience to Bowen Island

Jul 8 2021, 9:21 am

A boutique hotel inspired by the centuries-old Japanese onsen (hot springs bath) is opening this month on Bowen Island.

Nestled under a secluded bluff, the Kitoki Inn offers a unique, outdoor spa experience that allows guests to unplug and recharge just 45 minutes from the city.

In Japan, onsen are deeply rooted in the country’s history — with evidence of the hot spring bathhouses dating back to 720 AD. Onsen are revered for their restorative and healing effects.


Credit: Kitoki Inn

Owners Mitsumi Kawai and Rob Leadley created their own take on a peaceful bathhouse with UV-treated water from the inn’s own on-site well aquifer.

“Our vision for Kitoki is to create an experience that is a true getaway from everyday life,” Mitsumi says. “We’ve always loved finding little gems in our travels and are inspired when people take the extra step to make their guests’ experience special and memorable. Kitoki Inn is our version of that,” she explains.

Owner Mitsumi Kawai.

You may have also visited some of her other ventures: she and her husband Rob are also the founders of Tofino’s Kuma, along with Japanese restaurant Shika Provisions on Bowen — but ultimately walked away from that side of hospitality to follow their passion project.

Credit: Kitoki Inn

“We envisioned a place that is an ideal quick getaway from the city that is relaxing, beautiful, surrounded by nature and with a taste of Japan,” she told Daily Hive.

“We dreamed of running a small inn where we can create an experience that we would love to find,” she said. “We had an opportunity to make a career change, so we made the leap last March to buy this special piece of land on Bowen, bordering the forest of Crippen Park.”

Kitoki Inn

Kitoki Inn

The spa also includes a hot-and-cold hydrotherapy shower, and garden adjacent wood-burning fireplace. It’s practical, too: the open-air tub is covered to accommodate Bowen’s rainy months.

Guests have the option of booking up to two 90-minute sessions a day in the bathing suit optional bath.

The design of the property fuses a contemporary west coast feel with Japanese minimalism that’s carried right through to the three gorgeous cabins.

The bright and airy rooms feature gorgeous floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook a forest canopy, ensuite rain shower bathrooms, and ultra-luxe products from the island’s Sangre De Fruta (also approved by Gwyneth Paltrow’s goop).

Credit: Kitoki Inn

Guests are also treated to housemate breakfast each morning that includes Kitoki’s house-made granola.

Other amenities include a private deck for post-bath stargazing.

Of course, there’s plenty to do on a weekend getaway to Bowen including kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. The island also boasts an array of funky coffee shops, boutiques and eateries.

“We moved to Bowen in 2013 when we felt like we needed a change of scenery from living in Vancouver. We felt a call to be closer to the ocean and be surrounded by nature,” Mitsumi adds. “Bowen is a special little island… It’s a fantastic place to raise a family.

The Kitoki Inn is opening on July 15.

Cassandra GillCassandra Gill

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