Is this the future or the past? Marketing VP Trina Notman and Hotel Zed Tofino GM Britt Chalmers lean on the hood of a 1970s Kingswood Estate Chevy. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Is this the future or the past? Marketing VP Trina Notman and Hotel Zed Tofino GM Britt Chalmers lean on the hood of a 1970s Kingswood Estate Chevy. (Nora O’Malley photo)

Hotel Zed opens in Tofino

Tofino’s newest resort is a 1970s time capsule

Mandy Farmer, president and CEO of hotel chain Accent Inns and Hotel Zed, opened Tofino’s newest resort on August 27.

Once the site of Jamie’s Rainforest Inn, Hotel Zed Tofino is the third location for the Hotel Zed brand, which currently operates properties in Kelowna and Victoria.

Permits for the colourful new hotel were approved by the District of Tofino in the spring of 2019. It took roughly one year to complete the build of phase one: 58 new guest rooms and 33 custom staff units.

Tofino councillor Britt Chalmers took on the role of general manager at the beginning of March, right before the pandemic closures took place.

“It’s been great having the support of a team, being able to watch the development of all the COVID procedures. There were so many working minds from all the different hotels,” said Chalmers.

Accent Inns and Hotel Zed sales and marketing vice president Trina Notman said the company was able to stay afloat during the COVID-19 closures by renting rooms out to essential services workers for a rock bottom rate.

“That kept our doors open. That kept our people employed,” said Notman, adding that about 1,600 room nights were covered by community donations.

Chalmers said she gets choked up every time she hears the story.

“That was my introduction to the company. It was so welcoming to see a company that not only cared, but that they think outside the box,” Chalmers said.

Tofino mayor Josie Osborne was treated to a sneak peek of the retro themed resort.

“Being a child of the 1970s, I definitely found myself transported back to the colours and style of our family home,” said Osborne.

“The transformation of the Hotel Zed property reflects similar investments being made across Tofino in renovations and upgrades of hotel accommodations on a number of properties. As a new operator, they are already demonstrating a leadership role and I’m encouraged to see the company’s commitments to community groups and initiatives like the Tribal Parks Allies program. I welcome and look forward to their voice as the West Coast works to ‘build back better’ with a more resilient, sustainable and regenerative tourism economy,” she said.

In addition to being Tribal Parks Allies, Hotel Zed Tofino is a proud LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) ally, with gender-inclusive public washrooms in the lobby.

“It makes perfect business sense. This is transformational tourism,” notes Notman.

Hotel Zed Tofino features a bike path that diverts off the multi-use path and cuts through the foyer, a sunken living room with green shag carpet (free for locals to rent out for meetings), and a freshly graveled path down to the mudflats.

“I’d take the mudflats over the ocean any day. You can see the wolves,” said Chalmers from the viewing deck.

Employees of Hotel Zed Tofino have the option to live in the new, subsidized staff accommodation for $600 a month. The staff units are built to house two people, and include a kitchenette and bathroom.

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PHOTOS: ’70s-style fashion on the road and in the music studio