If you haven’t seen the beautiful scenery of Squamish, BC in the show The Returned (on Netflix now), you are missing out. Nestled on the Sea To Sky Highway in Beautiful British Columbia, Squamish is just an hour outside of Vancouver. Known as the Outdoor Adventure Capitol of Canada, the village lives up to its name.
Squamish, British Columbia: Located halfway between downtown Vancouver and Whistler’s high alpine, Squamish is where the ocean meets the mountains in Sea to Sky country. It lies at the crossroads between incomparable outdoor recreation and unforgettable West Coast culture. It’s where rugged landscapes and stunning vistas come together to create memorable adventures.
Properly aligned with their title, Squamish has become the residence of many outdoor enthusiasts, especially young people with families. The village has seen tremendous growth and has many small businesses thriving.
I was recently asked to explore Squamish with a group of social media influencers and I was definitely not disappointed. The first stop on our tour was the Canadian Internet Marketing Conference. The CIMC was an amazing conference that united all types of internet marketing.
With my mind on sharing quality content with you, the readers of TOTS Business, I have chosen to highlight some of the small business owners I found on my tour of Squamish. I will also explore why I feel they have what it takes to have continued growth.
Sunwolf Resort and Fergie’s Cafe
After visiting Sunwolf as a rafting guide, Jess Freese, from the UK and her rafting partner saw the immense potential, It didn’t take long to convince their husbands to move around the world and take ownership. Five years later, Jess and Jake Freese have renovated and poured blood sweat and tears into making Sunwolf into a must-see destination for fishing and outdoor enthusiasts. Jess and Jake took a chance and decided to build a life, and a business in the outskirts of Squamish. Sunwolf is now comprised of 12 riverside cabins and amazing rafting experiences. Jess and Jake have also added two little people to the family.
Also on the property at Sunwolf, is Fergie’s Cafe, an understated cafe that exudes nature and focusses on creating an atmosphere that brings people together. Prepared from scratch, onsite, the food is created from locally sourced ingredients and the cafe centres around sustainability. The most poignant part of Fergie’s for me was when Jess explained how families come together, sitting around tables, while their children run around the yard, playing with each other and exploring nature. As a mom of 6, who often declares myself a ‘free range’ parent, I appreciate the idea of children being part of the experience and not an inconvenience.
Why I think this business will continue to see success: Sunwolf and Fergie’s are run with passion. I am a realistic person, I know that passion does not equal success. Through their passion (and hard work), Jess and Jack have created a community. A place that is frequented by regulars, and tourists alike. They have embraced their uniqueness and focussed on their specialty. They are down to earth and aware of the growth potential and are realistic about the challenges.
Alpine North Limousiness
First thing in the morning of our tour, we were greeted professionally by Garrett Gosselin, the owner of Alpine Limos. Alpine offers services from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Whistler Village. The company strives to ensure that you are not only transported to and from your destination, but also are given the experiences that will enhance your visit to Sea To Sky Country. They utilize SUVs equipped for the mountain terrain, as well as high capacity vans that made this mom of six drool.
Garrett is a small business owner that has a passion for experiences and is always thinking about what would serve his potential customers best. He has an enreprenuer’s mind and is always analyzing business opportunities for growth. He was down to earth, yet professional and enhanced our visit to Squamish. Garrett also is bilingual (English and French) in order to meet the needs of guests from near and far.
Why I think this business will continue to see success: Alpine’s success will centre around the personal service that Garrett and his team offers. They are happy to ‘think outside the box’ in order to give their guests the experience of a lifetime. This focus and dedication to growth and change will help Alpine see the business flourish.
Be sure to visit Garrett’s Twitter account.
Sea To Sky Air
If a flight tour over the mountains of Beautiful British Columbia is not yet on your bucket list, go add it. I actually never really considered a flight tour, despite growing up so close to Squamish. I will now say, you have to try it. I am extremely afraid of heights, but I have no fear of flying in general as I travel and fly often. To say I was nervous about this part of the itenerary would be an understatement.
The staff and Sea to Sky Air did an amazing job of calming my nerves. Their safety briefing was thorough while remaining light and laid back. The pilot smiled the entire time. If you are like me, a smiling pilot can calm all nerves. I felt entirely safe at all times (except had an irrational fear of dropping my cell phone high above the mountains). Not only was the pilot safe and confident, he was one of the best tour guides I have experienced. He knew the highlights of the area as well as some very interesting facts (did you know that Quest University in Squamish is actually the most expensive university in Canada?). I would also argue that the landing of the plane (the part I was the most nervous about) was smoother than any commercial plane I have been on.
A video posted by The TOTS Network (@totsnetwork) on
Why I think this business will continue to see success: Sea to Sky Air has hired pilots that are welcoming and passionate about what they do. They have embraced technology with their registration system and even sends an email after your flight. The moved proactively into the technology era and has done so apparently seamlessly.
Be sure to follow them on Instagram to see even more of their breath-taking views.
Howe Sound Inn and Brewing Company
Howe Sound Brewing is clear on their mandate, welcoming YOU to see what British Columbia has to offer:
Since 1996, we’ve been brewing an award-winning selection of ales and lagers in beautiful Squamish, BC. Today, you’ll find our beers throughout British Columbia, and in many parts of Canada and the United States. Welcome to Howe Sound. Welcome to Sea to Sky Country.
The brew pub boasts an incredibly welcoming environment and an exquisite selection of food and, of course, beer. We had the opportunity with Franco, the brewmaster, to tour the brewery before enjoying a taste of their craft beers. Franco spent time explaining the growth of Howe Sound Brewing, and the ins and outs of craft breweries. He was transparent when discussing the amazing expansion of the brewery and the limitations for their growth, which at this time mostly centres around space restrictions. Franco was candid with the struggles around labeling (did you know that each province has different requirements of the labels on alcohol?) and distribution. I was intrigued by the bottling process and of course, sampling was also a highlight.
The pub food was amazing and I tried something brand new to me. Deep fried cheesecake. Although I am not generally a ‘deep fried’ kind of girl, this was far from greasy diner food. If you have the chance to stop by Howe Sound Pub, be sure to give this a try.
Why I think this business will continue to see success: In the past 20 years, this small business has shown that it has what it takes to succeed. They are also acutely aware that growth needs to occur slowly and are utilizing their current space before considering to expand their footprint.
Although highlighting some of the small businesses of Squamish was not initially where I thought I would focus this post, after meeting the amazing entrepreneurs Squamish had to offer, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Stay tuned to TOTS Family where I will be sharing more about my tour of Squamish. Also, be sure to visit Tourism Squamish on Instagram and Twitter.