The staff at Surf Sister were delighted to be nominated for a Vancouver Island Business Excellence Award. Surf Sister is one of four Tofino businesses to be nominated and winners will be announced on Jan. 24. (Photo - Bryanna Bradley Photography)

Four Tofino businesses up for Vancouver Island Excellence Awards

Tofino’s business community is shining with four Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards nominations.

Ucluelet businesses did not crack this year’s nomination list, but Surf Sister, Crystal Cove Beach Resort, Tofino Food Tours and The Factory are representing the West Coast as finalists.

READ MORE: Awards finalists announced after ‘good year for business’ on the Island

“We are so excited for this nomination,” Surf Sister’s manager Tiffany Olsen told the Westerly News. “We put so much of our hearts into this company. Everyone that works here is family. This nomination justifies all that work and love our surf sisters put in. As we have been nominated it means that someone has seen all this love and truly appreciates what we do.”

She added Surf Sister is proud to be celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

“Originally, Surf Sister was started to encourage more women to get out in the water. Tofino now has almost equal numbers in the lineup. I think Surf Sister brings a different attitude to surfing, one that allows people to feel included. We are a safe resource for beginner surfers to ask questions and voice their fears,” she said.

“As a surf school our aim is to teach people to surf, not just catch a wave. We want our students to leave with the feeling that they can safely surf on their own, with skills and knowledge explained in a memorable way. This is important to us as we use the beach and want it to remain a beautiful safe place for everyone to enjoy.”

READ MORE: Tofino’s Queen of the Peak surf competition fosters youth empowerment

This marks Crystal Cove’s third Business Excellence Award nomination in the past five years and resort manager JJ Belanger said he hopes the third time will be the charm for the resort’s first win.

“We have an amazing team of staff that make Crystal Cove what it is. I’m honoured to be leading such a great team of passionate people that really care about our guest experience,” he said.

“There is a lot of competition in the resort industry in B.C. and we need to offer an incredible experience to our guests who choose to stay with us over another resort.”

Crystal Cove is coming off an accolade-laden 2018 that included a Business of the Year Award from the Tofino Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and an Eco Star Award for water conservation.

READ MORE: Tofino’s Crystal Cove and Ocean Outfitters win Vancouver Island EcoStar Awards for green steps

“However, we do not rest on our laurels,” Belanger said. “We continue to strive to be the best that we can be for our staff, our guests and our community. We all take tremendous pride in what we do and to see the rewards of these efforts is pretty special.”

The resort also earned the Pacific Rim Whale Festival’s best float award in 2018.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Pacific Rim Whale Festival kicks off with parade in Tofino

In an email to the Westerly News, Adam Doolittle and Kate McCallum of Tofino Food Tours wrote that they were “completely shocked,” to be nominated in just their third year of operation.

“When we started the tours in 2017, our main goal was to give a tour that whether you are a hardcore foodie or just a guest in town wanting to try various food and drink, we would customize the tour for you,” they wrote. “We have a maximum of six guests, so we quickly become acquainted with our visitors and if they want to talk just about food, we can do that. Or, if they want to learn as much about the history of the area, we make extra little stops in town to tell historical stories and point out the sights.”

Tofino Food Tours was a co-winner of their local chamber’s New Business of the Year Award in 2018. “Now to have this nomination, it just inspires us to keep making it better and expand,” wrote Doolittle and McCallum.

READ MORE: Nominations are in for 2018 Tofino Business Excellence Awards

They cited their partners as the key to their success, explaining that their tours depend on Tofino’s vibrant culinary and service scene to offer memorable experiences to their guests.

“Our tours are truly about showcasing the fantastic food in Tofino and what it is like to live in this beautiful town,” they wrote. “It’s a fun tour and we are so proud that people have an excellent time.”

The Factory is a unique gallery operated by jeweller Lisa Fletcher, leatherworker Julie Boocock and photographer Kyler Vos who told the Westerly they were “pleasantly surprised, and completely honoured,” to be nominated for a Vancouver Island Business Excellence Award.

“There are so many great businesses on Vancouver Island that we feel very fortunate to be nominated and a finalist,” they said via email. “Through this nomination, we feel that people truly appreciate shopping locally, supporting local artists, and purchasing hand crafted quality products from the artists themselves and hope that connects people in their daily impact. We feel lucky to live in such a supportive community that has contributed to The Factory’s success.”

READ MORE: Tofino charcuterie stakes claim to Small Business B.C. top ten list

The gallery doubles as a workspace for the artists with products handcrafted in-house offering patrons a chance to see their products come together.

“Customers can see and interact with the artists in action as they make the products for the gallery, working with the artist to create a custom piece just for them,” the artists wrote. “Connecting with our customers is one of the best aspects of our business, and we pride ourselves on being able to work with customers of custom projects and delivering what they need.”

The Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards is in its 19th year and will announce its latest crop of winners on Jan 24 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo.

Black Press is a Platinum Media Sponsor of the event. ‘



andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca

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