20th Anniversary Message from the Owner
Dear Valued Guests of Past & Future,
It's hard to believe that the Lodge first opened twenty years ago on Friday, April 12th, 2002!
We opened initially with only the Lodge; the cottages were built over the next several years, the Surf Club and SandBar in later years. I am excited to announce that our Rainforest Spa is planned to open next year. I have felt that the spa could have been our one missing link.
I had visited the west coast, first in the mid-1960s, camping with other kids on the beaches. No, we were not hippies! Getting there was quite the adventure, driving on very rough gravel roads, it would take a very long day to arrive and often a tire had to be repaired. Thankfully, the gravel dust was washed down with copious quantities of beer! It is interesting that the road to the west coast was only opened in 1959, basically just joining logging roads together.
Previously, anyone who wanted to come to Tofino had to arrive by boat. In those days, people always spoke about going to Long Beach, “Tofino” only became used much later.
Over the years, it was no longer sleeping on the beach, but staying at the Wickaninnish Inn. It was in the late 1990s that I realized there was an opportunity to build another hotel. While there were still not a lot of tourists around and very few surfers, I thought more guests would be coming soon! When the property on Cox became available, I purchased it immediately.
At that time, I had been in the construction and development business for 30 years. Working with my team to build the lodge was the easy part. Designer Mike Nixon and I conceptualized the building structure and Kimberly Williams worked with me to design the interior finishes and select the furnishings. I worked on every detail! My first purchase was the Raven’s head carved by Chief George, which still hangs in the Great Room today. It was purchased long before we started the construction and largely set the tone and inspiration for the project. I have always said that the building was actually designed around this remarkable, local indigenous piece. All the artwork displayed in the Lodge was created by people living in the community and area.
We brought our talented and diverse construction crews from Victoria. The actual construction went extremely well, with everything, including the site development, completed in just 18 months. To build on a strong footing, we dug 12 feet deep into the sand and found beach logs that could have been there for thousands of years, almost petrified. Our framers, Dino and Marty, did an incredible job and are still working with us today. Keith Gibson, who was born in Tofino and owned Gibson Brothers with his family, was a great support in servicing the site. We appreciated all of Keith’s good advice. My brother Tony was a huge part of the job, working daily to manage the construction.
We were honoured when the Lodge won “Project of the Year” from the Canadian Home Builders Association in 2003. We were the first Canadian property to be featured in the prestigious American Publication, ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST. (View Article)
As I have said, the construction was the easy part, entering the hospitality business, not so much. What a steep learning curve it was! While the lodge did well financially from the beginning, I think we struggled somewhat. Feeling that I was too separated from the lodge's middle management and hourly employees, I stepped back into management about 10 years ago. I believe we refocused our vision and our success came from the culture we were able to develop. Our mission became to offer every guest the best experience possible through helpful and friendly service. It is our staff that makes the resort what it is today. Guests tell me that while the resort and location may be beautiful, it is our staff that keeps them returning. We work constantly to improve our guest experience and have built a very capable management team, with Samantha Hackett now serving as our General Manager. We see ourselves as being one big family, working together and supporting each other. I have always stressed that it needs to be fun too.
I am absolutely passionate about our business. I am so proud of the staff members that we have been able to attract and watching them grow and succeed in their careers over the years has been very rewarding for me. We have always gladly hired our foreign workers, incredible young people who have come to us from around the world, including the Philippines, India, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and recently 4 wonderful young people from a refugee camp in Kenya. I realize that wherever we are from, whatever our history and experiences, we are all the same people and share so much in common. On a rainy day in February, one of our African girls told me that we had more rain in that one morning than they would have had in three or four years in her country! It is hard to believe all the changes our foreign workers have to experience in their new life and country.
I am so extremely thankful for you, our wonderful guests and friends, who have visited us so faithfully over the years. The lodge has become a special place for people to come to celebrate special occasions. Guests comment, often in very personal terms, about what the resort means to them and their families. This feedback is very humbling and makes all our efforts seem so worthwhile and rewarding. Thank you so much!
We look forward to our special anniversary year and would love to welcome you to celebrate with us. We also look forward to welcoming back our American guests, guests from Europe and around the world. We have missed you!
My very best wishes and here’s to our next 20 years!
Founder and Owner