It started in the early 1990s with an offhanded comment to a pal during a fly fishing trip near Tofino. “I wouldn’t mind owning a piece of the wilderness one day,” he said to his friend Randy Goddard. “If you find something special give me a call.” Today, Genovese is owner of Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, an eco-tourism and glamour camping destination that continues to draw raves and visitors from around the world.
A Toronto native, Genovese’s path to a remote part of the untamed western coastline of Vancouver Island was paved with blood, sweat and good old fashioned perseverance. His ambition was inspired by his mother, who raised three boys on her own. Money was tight and Genovese caught the entrepreneurial spirit early on. He started his first successful venture in high school, which he later sold for a tidy profit. At Western University in London, Ontario, he paid his tuition working nights as a bartender.
After graduation, his uncle introduced him to the owner of Scotia McLeod (then McLeod Young Weir Ltd), where he was eventually hired. Following that, he moved to Calgary to work for Merrill Lynch and then to Vancouver to join Canaccord (then Canarim). He eventually moved with his family to Monaco.
It was while he was living there in 1998 that his old fishing buddy Randy Goddard called, remembering his comment from that fateful trip. Goddard told him that he had found Shangri-La back on Vancouver Island. Genovese flew in from Monte Carlo. During an aerial tour he saw the devastation left by logging, but he also saw the extraordinary beauty of Quait Bay, three mountain lakes, and miles of rugged coastline. He bought 160 acres, put it into a family trust, and spent $2-million in preliminary clean up.
He moved back to Canada and set up a venture capital firm called Connect Capital Corporation, where he continues to finance compelling public company opportunities in all business realms. One investment, Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, is still going strong. Now at a Bedwell River location, not far from the original Quait Bay, the resort has earned rave reviews from visitors and travel media. Genovese is proud of the resort and the life changing experiences it offers guests, many of whom return time after time. But it’s his work with the resort team to restore and repair the nature in the area as part of the Environmental Legacy program he founded that has given him the greatest sense of accomplishment.
With a $3-million investment, supplemented with a guest sustainability fee, the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort’s Environmental Legacy program is making a significant difference rebuilding salmon habitats on the Bedwell River. His work with resort managing director John Caton to build partnerships and establish a protocol with the local first nations is also profoundly meaningful to him.
Not only has Genovese managed to own a piece of the wilderness he fell in love with all those years ago, he is leaving it better than he found it, forming meaningful partnerships based on respect, and sharing this piece of paradise with the world. Guess you could say he’s found himself in the wilderness.
Gary began his career as an underground miner in northern Canada and later obtained an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western University. In 1989 he joined the Foreign Service in the Office of Protocol where he organized Head of State Visits to Canada. King Hussein of Jordan, King Juan Carlos of Spain, Presidents Corazon Aquino, Lech Walesa and George Bush were only a few of the many world leaders he accompanied across Canada. After the first visit to Canada by Nelson Mandela in 1990, Prime Minister Mulroney agreed to lend him to the African National Congress in Johannesburg where he worked closely with the antiapartheid hero for eighteen months in a personal security capacity.
Gary’s last posting with External Affairs was as Deputy Commissioner General for Canada at Expo ’92 in Seville, Spain. After the death of his father, he decided to remain in Spain but travelled frequently offering private security consulting to high-wealth individuals, politicians and governments. In 2001, after almost two years as GM of a landmark historic inn in Westport, Connecticut, a Relais & Chateaux property, he returned to Spain to fulfill his life-long dream to learn how to cook and make wine. He worked with several of Spain’s top chefs, including Ferran Adria of El Bulli near Barcelona, then the number one restaurant in the world. He spent the next two years learning how to craft world-class wines from some of Spain’s most prestigious wine-makers. In 2002, he launched a new career as a Food & Wine critic on Spanish radio with Carlos Herrera on Onda Cero. His humorous reviews of restaurants and fine wines never failed to delight the audience of over 2.5 million listeners.
After a serious bout with cancer in 2007, Gary took time off from journalism to write his first novel, Death of a Pharaoh, which became a finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. He is currently working on the Jake Sparling mystery series with the first book due out in 2016. Equally at ease in front of the cameras as behind a microphone, he was the guest commentator with CTV’s Lisa Laflamme for Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa in December of 2013.
An avid canoeist, kayaker and hiker, Gary looks forward to the outdoor aspect of life at CWR but most important, he relishes the chance to help our team continue to provide the ultimate luxury wilderness experience to all our guests.
Donna joined the CWR team in the spring of 2013 as our onsite Accounts Supervisor. While you can see Donna in the office, her nose buried deep in numbers, she is also found around camp talking to guests and often times on an evening horse back ride. An avid rider, hailing from the Okanagan Valley, Donna is a natural fit here at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort.
Chad or Cactus, affectionately named by his parents, was born just south east of Tofino in the Comox Valley on the island. While Cactus had an early start to living a quiet rural life in the woods of B.C., the Caton family headed back to Toronto, Ontario when he was young and he spent much of childhood there before returning west. A team member since 1999 Chad spends his time both in the Bedwell and In Tofino with his wife, Shari and son Rylee.
Carl Cawston comes by his affiliation with Clayoquot Wilderness Resort by blood. His dad Dave Cawston, the resort’s excavator operator (affectionately known as Digger Dave), has been helping to shape the property in the Bedwell River Valley since the first tent was erected. Carl has chosen a different path than his dad, and finds himself moving kayaks rather than moving dirt. His most recent passion is shooting the rapids in the whitewater flowing down the Bedwell River. Carl hasn’t always been a river rat, though. The first job he ever landed was with Clayoquot Wilderness Resort as the tiki boy when he was 14, and he’s been with the resort ever since that day in 2003. Since first joining the crew, Carl has worked diligently building his outdoor skills. He now holds certifications in sea kayaking, wilderness first aid, marine radio operation and swift water rescue.
Born and raised in Tofino, Dave now finds himself at home in the village of Tofino with his wife and new baby when not at the resort. Dave is happy to be anywhere near or on a boat; he says he loves to be on the water. When not on the water reeling in the fish or driving through the Wildside, Dave is seen guiding guests down the Bedwell River or through the shooting range. Dave spends his time perfecting his skills in all sports. Surfing, fishing, wakeboarding, basketball, baseball, and hockey are among those on his list. Dave also spends time learning his culture, the native Nuu-Chah-NuultL culture of Clayoquot Sound. Dave has been a team member since 2008.
Skippy has a short move from his hometown to the camp when its time to start the season at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. Born and raised in the Comox Valley just a few hours east of Tofino, Skippy has been migrating to the Outpost since 2000. At a crossroads in life he stumbled across CWR as a construction laborer and was then onto guiding like a dirty skirt. When his hammer’s not pounding at camp set up, Skippy is the man to take guests on a hike or mountain bike ride. His love for the outdoors has him in search of all sports that involve that famous white stuff on B.C. mountains. Put him on any mountain that has snow in the winter and Skippy will be happy.
Nikki has been with the resort since 2010 and has loved every minute of it. Working towards her double degree in Environmental Studies and Social Justice, Nikki takes every chance she can to get outside and learn all she can about her favorite activities. Her love for the water makes her a perfect fit for us with her ever growing knowledge of our Pacific whales.
Another island boy to the core, Owen loves the outdoors and all that goes along with it making CWR a perfect place to call home for most of the year. One of the first guides in the Bedwell many moons ago; Owen found his way back to CWR in 2010 and has said “you can’t beat the living out here!” When not on a boat or leading an activity in the rainforest, Owen can usually be found with a pencil behind his ear and a hammer in hand. A roofer by trade, Owen brings many skills to the Bedwell all year long. Father of 2 boys, the summer is a great “camp” for his young ones who are found helping dad out whenever possible.
Our horse lover, Sammy, rides whenever she can and has been on the back of our horses since 2010. Studying for her teaching degree, Sammy is a busy beaver in the winters accomplishing her degree from Vancouver Island University and riding at the same time! With hopes of seeing the world, Sammy is on the right track with working the winter months in Florida at an Olympic stable.
Guests are toasted by Tereza as they sip and swill their wine pairing with Chef Orr’s modern natural cuisine in the cookhouse here at CWR. Tereza can pair a wine with any meal Chef Orr creates. Wine is her passion and she has studied with the International Sommelier Guild and the Spanish Wine Academy. She first began specializing in wines from British Columbia, then expanded to include local knowledge of wines from the Pacific Northwest and now organic and bio-dynamic wines from around the world. It was the prospect of a new adventure that first brought Tereza to the Bedwell River Valley in 2007. She continues the adventure as Clayoquot Wilderness Resort’s sommelier and claims that the opportunity to live in paradise and to pair great wines with excellent food is reason enough to return. Ask Tereza about her fondest memory at the resort, and she will talk about the breathtaking sight of millions of stars late one evening after closing. Paradise indeed!
The ladies behind the scenes Cathy Williams (Head Housekeeper), Annabelle Williams, Millie Williams It is a family affair with these three! Scene scurrying from tent to tent during the day cleaning, primping and fluffing, these amazing ladies do it all and make your tent home while you are here. All the fine details are taken care of under their watchful eyes. Not only are they sisters, they are friends that enjoy each other. Find them at any point of the day and they are laughing and smiling together, it’s infectious! You might even be lucky enough to have Cathy’s son as your fishing guide…Dave Tom, the man that brought his mom and two aunts to us and we are forever happy about it!
Rylee is a really lucky kid who has spent a good part of his life growing up at the resort. Born in Nanaimo, he’s been playing in the Clayoquot Rainforest for a handful of years. But life isn’t all fun and games for Rylee Cougar Caton. He has a job at Clayoquot Wilderness Resort to fill. He’s there to greet guests on the wagon from time to time, and he can also be seen running alongside his dad, Cactus, fertilizing the fields. But his most important job is to keep everyone laughing and smiling. And ‘witty’ as a descriptor is no understatement; this is a wise old man in a boy’s body.