Victoria family puts Pacific Sands Resort in Tofino up for sale

Citing the need for a new perspective and fresh capital for future development, Victoria’s Pettinger family has decided to put its Pacific Sands Beach Resort near Tofino up for sale.

The waterfront resort, which has plenty of room for growth along the west coast of the Island, was listed late last week and is already generating interest.

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“It’s just time really,” said Rick Pettinger, one of three brothers who own the resort that has been in the family for 40 years. “We started as a mom-and-pop operation, but now it’s just become such a big deal.”

From the 17 rustic cabins the resort started with in the 1970s, Pacific Sands has grown into a 77-unit resort with more than 45 staff on 41 acres south of Tofino.

“We could easily double the size of the place, but it’s just not up to three brothers to do that anymore,” said Pettinger. “We need someone with development and resort experience to do that and new energy after 40 years.”

Pettinger said while the decision to sell was difficult and coming to terms with parting with the property is bittersweet, it’s also a good time to get out.

“Why not sell at the top? Our [occupancy] figures have been really spectacular over the last few years,” he said.

According to hospitality industry expert Frank Bourree, principal of Chemistry Consulting, Tofino has seen a resurgence in tourism over the last few years and the resort will be listed in what he called a “strong market.”

“It will be offshore money most likely,” said Bourree. “It is one of the most spectacular pieces of real estate in the world. It’s a beautiful property and the Pettinger family have done a very good job managing its reputation and upgrading over the years.”

The offering includes the 77 suites and two single-family residences overlooking Cox Bay and features 1,000 feet of beachfront and more than 1,600 feet of rocky shoreline at the bay’s north end.

The suites range in size from 465 to 1,440 square feet with fully-equipped kitchens and ocean views.

More than 18 acres of the property are zoned “tourist commercial,” which can be developed offering more capacity on the waterfront.

There is also a guest services office, a second administration building, 15 cottages and two mobile homes for staff housing, a laundry building, a beachside gazebo, a geo-thermal heating plant and workshop.

While Pacific Sands would not divulge its specific occupancy numbers or revenue generated per room, Bourree said like most resorts in the area it will have done very well as it is considered one of the best resorts in the region.

Bourree estimated the average room rate in Tofino — where rates can run from $500 a night down to about $150 per night at smaller resorts — would be around $250 per night.

“Occupancy has been awesome this year,” he said.

There has been no pricetag put on the resort, with the Pettingers opting for a negotiated bid process.

“We will invite proposals over the next two months, rather than reacting to the first person who wants to take a run at it,” said Randy Holt, vice president of DTZ Victoria Real Estate, which has listed the property. “We’re getting a good response and anticipating a strong response going forward.”

The target date to review proposals is Oct. 31. Proposals will be evaluated on a variety of criteria including the price offered, deal structure, the buyer’s ability to complete the transaction and the proposed completion date.

“It’s such a special property and one that we think will attract interest from a wide cross-section from investors. buyers and hoteliers,” Holt said. “Rather than set expectations too high or too low, we’ve decided to let the market tell us what they think the value of the property is.”

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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