When Vivienne O’Keeffe first set foot in Tofino, she felt she had come to one of the world’s rarest of locales — a place alive with healing energy. Set amidst the wild, magical beauty of Canada’s Pacific and surrounded by British Columbia’s ancient forests and guardian mountains, this coastal village on Vancouver Island’s western edge possesses a magnetic power to attract those seeking renewal of body, mind and spirit.
As an international spa and wellness consultant who specializes in curating guest experiences and journeys, Vivienne is attuned to places that are elixirs of the soul. Originally from Ireland, she grew up amidst haunting habitats, sacred sites, and lyrical landscapes.
In Tofino, the healing energy is compelling: Vivienne felt called to share it with people seeking renewal: urban dwellers craving respite or anyone needing a sabbatical from their daily lives. She wanted to give Guests the experience of reconnecting to themselves – in a space conducive to relaxing, self-directed retreats, or wellness sojourns (intentional time apart to recharge and refill with joy – whether that is sitting meditating or running into the sea to surf with your child).
In her work, and as a member of the Mental Wellness Initiative of the Global Wellness Institute, Vivienne had witnessed the toll of chronic busyness and stress on people’s mental and physical wellbeing. She had also searched for a better way to live. After buying a property just a breath away from Tofino’s iconic Chesterman Beach, Vivienne collaborated with Tofino contractor Dave Woolliscroft to lovingly build Tofino Hummingbird Cottage, which opened in July 2020 as a retreat of extraordinary beauty, tranquility and sustainability (and prime access to Tofino’s best surf beach!).
Vivienne created Tofino Hummingbird Cottage, not as a typical vacation rental, but as a form of pause, as described by Joan Anderson, author of A Year By the Sea and A Weekend to Change Your Life,
“…it is a time apart in solitude, a precious space in which we can see our world in a different light – acknowledge the grief, celebrate the gifts, and honor our own unique spirit without worrying about how others see us or what jobs still have to be done.”
Often, hummingbirds are drawn to places of such tranquility. In fact, while meditating one evening in August 2018, two hummingbirds came to Vivienne. “It felt like the joy and surprise of hummingbirds gave conception to the cottage,” she says. “The vision took flight and I was given the gift of courage and confidence to set about the process of building a sanctuary from scratch.”
And so the cottage had its name. Vivienne was also inspired by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’s parable Flight of the Hummingbird, in which a hummingbird becomes a symbol of wisdom and courage, fighting a forest fire alone by carrying small droplets of water in her beak. The lesson? The smallest of actions, done with intent, can lead to great things.
Because sleep is one of Vivienne’s Wellbeing Essentials, she has gone to incredible lengths to ensure visitors can experience deep, peaceful slumbers in ultra-comfortable beds with organic pillows and silk-blend hypoallergenic duvets. Bedrooms feature black-out draperies to keep the rooms dark, signaling our body’s Circadian rhythm – our 24-hour internal clock – that it’s time to switch off and rest. Light regulation is a vital part of healthy sleep, which helps regulate our moods, keep our brains sharp, reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart disease, control blood sugar, boost immunity and reduce stress.
“On the whole, people do not get enough sleep, and it affects every aspect of our lives” Vivienne says, “so I wanted to make sure I created the optimal environment. That’s how important it is to sleep well.”
While sleep is essential, so too is the ability to feel restful in our environments when we are awake. In the cottage living room, cozy up by the JØTUL gas fireplace from Norway on a sectional loveseat and chairs custom-designed in Vancouver for style and comfort. In the kitchen, enjoy the experience of preparing and cooking your food thanks to countertops of quartz Caesarstone and a gas stove with a true convection oven. In Tofino, visitors have plentiful access to fresh seafood, organic vegetables and artisan foods, which supports Vivienne’s Wellbeing Essential that nourishment is important and food is our medicine.
Throughout the cottage, Vivienne has thought of everything to ensure a tranquil stay, from eco-LED lights with dimmers to control light exposure, to Sonos wireless speakers with crystal clear sound. The tasteful interior features captivating photographs of birds, including hummingbirds by Island photographer Glenn Bartley, whose book is on the coffee table, and a naturescape painting by well-known Island artist Linda Heslop.
“The richness of this place is in the tapestry I have woven,” says Vivienne. “Everything has been chosen to deepen the experience.”
Book Your Stay
If you're ready to book, you can check availability using the online booking system and we will reply to your enquiry.