Victoria family sells Pacific Sands Resort in Tofino

Victoria's Pettinger family, after 42 years of ownership, has sold Pacific Sands Resort in Tofino to Vancouver-based Gordon Nelson Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

The resort, which had been on the market since the fall of 2013, had been listed for sale at $29.8 million.

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“It’s really bittersweet for us. Our kids grew up walking that beach, we saw the community grow and the resort grow big time,” said Rick Pettinger, who along with brothers Bill and Dave controlled the resort that had been established by their parents, Bill and Joan, in 1973. “There’s not one single building left that was there [at the start]. Everything these fellows are taking over we created.”

Pettinger said he couldn’t have imagined a better fit than selling to Gordon Nelson, which also owns nearby Ocean Village Resort.

“This feels great. They are young, energetic and smart and B.C.-based,” Pettinger said. “Ideally, we would have liked to see somebody just like these guys. If you’d asked me what kind of buyer we envisioned — an investment trust, a big resort company, an offshore buyer or local — we would immediately have said local and these guys came to the top. They are younger versions of us.”

Gordon Nelson is a partnership of Jason Gordon and Chris Nelson. They are joined in the venture to buy Pacific Sands by Robert Brown, a social and green- building developer, and Shane Richards, the manager of Ocean Village.

Nelson said it will be business as usual at Pacific Sands, which employs as many as 60 people in high season, as the team gets to know the property.

“We want to get in there and understand the resort and make sure we haven’t made any incorrect assumptions,” Nelson said. “We have made some improvements at Ocean Village and we would like to do the same with Pacific Sands, but we are careful enough to know to take our time and not rush into anything.”

Nelson said there may be some limited opportunity to find partnerships between their two Tofino resorts, but he stressed they are very different properties. “Ocean Village is a more modest property. It’s similar, but on a smaller scale,” Nelson said, noting Village’s market tends to be local while Pacific Sands has an international pull. ‘‘They are also at different price points and the [marketing] is a little different.

‘‘Pacific Sands is on a surf beach and the other resort is protected by Wickaninnish Island, so it doesn’t get the swell.”

Pacific Sands sits on 41.2 acres on Cox Bay and the sale includes 77 suites and two single-family residences. It features 1,000 feet of beachfront and 1,600 feet of rocky shoreline.

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

Nelson said while further development is possible, that’s a long-term prospect.

“I’ve been coming to Tofino for probably 20 years and Jason has been coming for about 10 and we have a long-term affection for the place,” he said.

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