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Greening Your Vacation ~ Tigh-Na-Mara

Each summer there is no guess work where we’ll be staying for our family vacation. The Tigh-Na- Mara resort on Vancouver Island has everything a family loves; a beach that stretches for miles covered with magical tidal pools, rustic cabins that provide the comforts of home, and amazing restaurant and spa facilities. The inspiration for this article is the great job Tigh-Na-Mara resort and Spa accomplish with green initiatives. It’s a tough job greening up a resort covering 22 acres of quite possibly the most beautiful land on Vancouver Island and I recognize and appreciate the effort as a returning guest. When booking your accommodations, have you ever wondered what happens to left over shampoo bottles only partially used from your hotel?  Have you inquired if composting and recycling services are available?  The answers might surprise you and would those answers effect how you felt about the resort or hotel? There is a ‘green team’ that is changing the way the Tigh-Na-Mara approaches guest services and it’s a unique aspect that I’m so proud to write about. This year wasn’t any different with new eco initiatives by Tigh-Na-Mara and learning about them really enhanced my family’s vacation.

We had only gotten through the parking lot when we saw the sign to rent ‘eco scooters’ which is something new because these scooters are powered by biofuel or there’s an electric option.  The company Eco Scooter Rentals own and operate these scooters that are located in the parking lot of Tigh-Na-Mara. Another new perk to staying at Tigh-Na-Mara is a free bus service that does pickup at the resort called Get Around Downtown encouraging resort guests to shop and enjoy downtown Parksville while reducing car emissions.

It’s not just return guests that are noticing the greener changes in the way the Tigh-Na-Mara conducts business. They received the ‘4 Green Key’ rating from the Hotel Association of Canada back in March and more recently the 2010 Going Green Award from Business Excellence Awards. Staff and Management of the resort are proud of the full commitment to greening both business and guest experiences, while not compromising their excellent guest and customer service.

More changes that are significant include:
~ Overhaul of kitchen dishwashing equipment to biodegradable cleaning products
~ 80% of kitchen waste is composted
~ Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products by housekeeping team and laundry cleaning products
~ More than 70% of all collateral produced is printed on recycled paper and several using biodegradable inks

Tigh-Na-Mara’s Grotto Spa rated #1 spa in Western Canada offers signature treatments with a focus on natural ingredients. I discovered my favorite organic skincare line last year while visiting the Spa. Sea Flora is the name of the organic skincare line made of seaweed that is sold in the Grotto Spa and I love the local support for founder Diane Bernard who comes with a magical story and business all on her own! You also see the local love in the Tigh-Na-Mara gift shop and why wouldn’t a resort on Vancouver Island support their own artists and small business owners?  The talent of artists, chemical-free soaps/skin care lines, and handmade items is abundant and inspiring all across Vancouver Island.

As you stroll the relaxing grounds of Tigh-Na-Mara you can’t help but notice the respect to the 22 acres property with abundant Arbutus and Pine trees and electric golf carts used throughout the resort for transportation. Signs of the extensive resort recycling program are everywhere and the fact kitchen food waste is composted is impressive…very few restaurants in big cities are able to maintain a program like this. Take away containers for the restaurant are made from 100% recycled paper using 35% or more post-consumer recycled paper. Tigh-Na-Mara also uses Lightning Nugget Firestarters. Have you heard of these firestarters that are produced with pitchwood rather than harmful chemicals? The nuggets are made in the US – what a great find by ‘Green Team’ member Kelly!

With so many nature based activities to mention in this one article, I’d like to mention 3 memories that will forever imprint my heart from this vacation. The first was walking through the doors of our cabin arriving on the first day and finding a geocaching map with 5 of the closest caches marked for my family to find.  The customer service on this gesture was amazing and very thoughtful of Tigh-Na-Mara staff.  Then later in the week we ventured to Cathedral Grove which is a protected forest filled with 800 year old Douglas Fir trees. The picture below is my kids exploring the roots of an upturned tree. The only word I can think of to describe the images in this forest is Epic!

And yesterday morning my family was invited to join a local biologist on Rathtrevor beach. We are now spoiled for life because all the questions we’ve ever wondered about shore-line creatures were answered in this 2 hour beach combing sessions. This offering is available for any family staying at the Tigh Na Mara and has been wildly popular. This initiative, plus weekly visits to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association located in Parksville further supports the resort’s commitment to the environment through wildlife education for guests and their children.

My thanks to Kelly, Jenn, and Alexis at the Tigh-Na-Mara for their dedication and excellence with green initiatives and helping my family get to experience many of the eco-magic the Tigh-Na-Mara offers. To keep track of the latest offerings from this fabulous resort, follow the Tigh Na Mara Facebook fan page or twitter account at @Tigh_Na_Mara.  And yes, if you’ve been patiently waiting for my answer about what the Tigh-Na-Mara does with left over shampoo…the answer is all the partially filled bottles are donated to a local Women’s Shelter. It’s a question I will now ask every hotel or resort my family stays because I’ve realized the answer is important to me.



One-Of-A-Kind Mother’s Day

When I first saw the hand painted notebooks from local artist April Lacheur I instantly knew what my Mother’s Day pick would be.  These days, who can resist an affordable, one-of-a-kind, unique, hand painted, and locally supported artist and beautiful mother’s day gift?  Certainly I can’t, and when you check out her amazing portfolio (right down to her signature tree trunks) you’ll understand my excitement. And for those Mommy Footprint readers that aren’t local to my West Coast roots, April has done her sourcing of the notebooks locally so if you are ordering them from another Province or State, she’s already looked after keeping the footprint light.

First a small glimmer into the product that caught my eye and inspired me to write about these notebooks.  Most of you know I’m a very practical person and I think the price point for these usable and unique pieces of art is great!  The journals come lined or un-lined and can be found here on April’s site and were sourced at Those Great Little Books that have a very cool and eco story all on their own! Read the story about Sandy’s Book and you’ll quickly understand the very cool things this company can do with notebook design and creativity! Back to April – check out these amazing functional (and original) journal covers with her lovely hand painted designs.  Just a perfect gift for a busy mom who would love the first page to be filled with notes from her husband or children about why she is special.

While you are on April’s site you might also notice her hand painted totes – another great gift idea(PVC-free) for mom this year with another great price point under $30.

It’s also very cool to watch the evolution of April’s paintings. Her latest from her Facebook updates is just wonderful and fills me with happiness. This is what the West Coast has looked like over the past few weeks with the beautiful cherry blossoms…combined with the whimsical tree trunks that are truly April’s signature:

My thanks to April for the earthy inspiration and for helping us learn that words like local, hand crafted, hand painted, and unique don’t have to be translated into the word expensive.

Related Articles:

Earthy Mother’s Day Ideas



Healthy, Organic and Convenient!

When I think of organic cooking or baking my thoughts drift to a Martha Stuart type that bakes everything from scratch and doesn’t use pre-mixed, convenient products to assist her. Well thanks to SPUD, I’ve been able to tap into the best little helper for breakfast, plus it’s healthy and convenient.  My picky little clan has been using an organic, 7 grain pancake mix for months, and it’s their new favorite.  I love it because I’m not serving up refined, white flour produced pancake mix and my kids didn’t even notice when I made the switch.  The brand is called Anita’s Organic and is local to BC, but accessible for anyone either through SPUD or via the Anita’s Organic site.  More importantly to me, they’ve found a way to produce an organic mix, made with a large mixture of grains, and kept it kid-friendly, and convenient for moms. I make 1 batch and it lasts me two days, making an already rushed morning of trying to feed kids quickly and healthy, a snap!

For those that like to whip up pancakes from scratch (I’m in awe of you), Anita’s has organic flour that can be used to help make your from scratch mixes more healthy.  And hello!! I just noticed in the Anita blog, they’ve cooked up some special mixes just in time for the holidays (additive, preservative, pesticide free) new shortbread and gingerbread mixes! Although the cookie mix wasn’t well received at my house I’ll be trying the gingerbread mix so that we can do some stress-free Christmas baking and gingerbread decorating.

anita pancake


Related Articles: SPUD Is Making Organic Sourcing Local, Fun & Easy



Natural Elegance From Etsy

The call to Etsy is strong and when I reach the homepage I can see why. My eye immediately noticed these organic designs that are so incredibly beautiful ~ they are truly a mixture of clothing and art.  The shop called Zelaya is brimming with natural and biodegradable fabrics and designs unlike anything I’ve seen. ‘Naturally elegant’ is the perfect word combination to describe…

zelaya top

Isn’t it stunning? The natural selection of flowers floating down the front is so delicate and elegant.  Here’s more:

zelaya pink top

Thank you for existing Etsy.  Your handmade pieces and stores continue to inspire and nourish creativity in us all. And to the artist over at Zelaya who crafted these gorgeous organic collections – wow!  I’m in awe of your talent!

zelaya backzelaya back 2



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