NHL Players Revive a Classic Tofino Property
The new Tofino Resort and Marina reinvigorates a dated 1970s hotel.
August 15, 2017
When hockey star Willie Mitchell retired from the NHL, you might not have expected his next move would be to remote Vancouver Island to transform the neglected Tofino Resort into a West-Coast-cool hotel. But that’s exactly what the athlete has done with the help of co-owner and developer Andrew Purdey and fellow B.C. native and NHL player Dan Hamhuis.
After renovating the property, the trio put hospitality veteran Darryl Thomson in the general manager position and Chef Paul Moran in the kitchen and opened the new Tofino Resort and Marina this July—and VanMag was lucky enough to spend a weekend checking out the new space.
From the exterior, the freshly painted black-and-white buildings and warm wood siding pop against the lush greens, blues and greys of the Tofino landscape. Inside, the 62 guest suites have been renovated to perfect simplicity: cozy beds, patios with a view, and oh-so-Instagramable photographic wall wraps from artist Jeremy Koreski. What more do you need in between surf lessons and jaunts to the brewery?
The property is a short walk away from the “downtown” strip and located right on the water across from the adorably named Strawberry Island (look closely and you’ll see the isle’s lone inhabitant has turned a BC ferry into a house), so after a wildlife tour via the attached Adventure Centre or a paddle around the marina on one of the up-for-grabs SUP boards, stroll over to take advantage of the town’s small-but-stellar dining scene. There’s Kuma for happy hour (grab a tall Sapporo to go with that fried rice ball, if you please) and down the street, the acclaimed Wolf in the Fog (the potato crusted oyster will blow your mind, we promise). But if you’d rather keep dinner hour closer to home, the Resort has worked hard to craft a few seriously competitive dining options of its own.
1909 Kitchen (named after the year the first post office opened in town) is 90-percent window—every seat has a stunning ocean view to accompany the seasonally inspired West Coast menu. Chef Paul Moran (a protege of David Hawksworth) weaves in ample amounts of locally foraged ingredients—think sea asparagus, chanterelles and herbs from Tofino Botanical Gardens—with fresh seafood and utilizes the kitchen’s wood-fired oven for upscale casual fare like sourdough-crust pizzas and roasted cauliflower. Next door, there’s the Hatch Waterfront Pub, which boasts Tofino’s oldest liquor license, so it’s the only place in town open until 2:00 a.m. On tap at the horseshoe-shaped bar, find options from Tofino Brewing (surprise!) and other West Coast craft brews.
Tofino has long been the destination of choice for Vancouverites seeking the surf, the sand or a little commune with nature. And now, thanks to two hockey players with a dream, there’s one more place to lay our heads.
Getting There: Orca Airways provides daily (and super scenic!) flights to Tofino from YVR’s South Terminal. You’ll never want to take the ferry again.