Hollyhock Leadership Institute, the local retreat center, was awarded $500,000 to build an outdoor spa. 

The funding is  a slice of the $500 million dollar Tourism Relief Fund, a federal grant aimed to revitalize the tourism sector after the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Other businesses that were awarded the grant in the region include Bella Coola Heli Sports Inc., 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate and Sunshine Coast Air.

Development Director Penelope Naldrett said that Hollyhock’s first attempt at applying for the grant failed. 

“The first one was turned down because they deemed it to be education related, even though our programs bring folks to the island and create tourism dollars.”

The second grant application asked for the maximum awarded of $500,000 to improve accessibility to the lodge and expand the hot tubs into a more accessible facility as well. This application was successful, and it was applied for by New Wave Foundation. Naldrett explained the complex structure of Hollyhock as a business entity. 

“L.I., the Leadership Institute, is the entity that runs the programs at Hollyhock. Next Wave Foundation owns the land and also supports L.I.- the leadership, Hollyhock Farms is our for-profit entity. It’s actually owned by Next Wave Foundation. So it’s for-profit in that work like the body work, or people staying as a hotel stay or a wedding, would not be considered charitable activities so that those are run by the for-profit. The profit from the for-profit goes back into The Next Wave Foundation. ”

When CKTZ inquired if there had been consultation with First Nations for the planned expansion, Naldrett responded, “we had a letter of support from the Gorge (Marina) for this one, which is owned by the Klahoose.”

The main focus for the spa expansion is to increase year round employment, offer amenities to locals, and increase overall accessibility to the lodge and pools. Hollyhock hopes the expansion will result in eight more full-time, year-round jobs for Cortes Island.

To hear more about the future plans for the local retreat center, listen to the CKTZ News Update below: