History of Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing

Chilcotin from Pixabay

Vancouver, November 22, 2022 –

Tyax was founded by Augustinus (Gus) Abel and Reiner Rothe. It all started in 1980 with Gus meeting his friend Reiner at the beach on a warm summer day at English Bay in Vancouver.

Gus, a previous captain on the high seas, originally an immigrant from Tanganyika, East Africa, lived on Beach Avenue in Vancouver, and that day he told Reiner, originally an immigrant from Germany and then a lawyer living in West Vancouver, about having met with Mr. and Mrs. Bingham, the owners of a decaying small Lodge in the Chilcotin area of BC.

The Binghams, an elderly couple, were no longer operating the Lodge as an ongoing business and intended to sell it. The natural beauty of the Lodge’s location inspired Gus, who enjoyed the outdoor and hunting, to enter into an initial time limited $5000 option to purchase the Lodge and the property it was situated on in the South Chilcotin Mountains near Pemberton.

Reiner, who equally enjoyed the outdoors, being a hiker, avid skier, ski instructor at Whistler, lifeguard, and a lawyer in Vancouver, and Gus then together went to look at the old Lodge and to walk the land around it. The remote Lake along the shores of which the Lodge is situated was known to the natives as Tyaughton Lake” or the “Lake of the Jumping Fish”.

In its prime, the Lodge used to be an old hunting and fishing camp in the 1920’s called “Tyax Fish and Game Lodge”. When Gus and Reiner arrived, the 275 acres of pristine, unspoiled Lakeshore wilderness had all the ingredients of turning it into something special. So they put their creative minds together and formed the vision of a destination wilderness resort lodge for visitors from around the world to experience and enjoy the true Canadian Wilderness.

Back in Vancouver, Gus and Reiner met with the Binghams to discuss and negotiate details of a purchase. Following this meeting, Reiner met with the Bingham’s lawyer Russ Stanton at his office in Vancouver in 1981, which led to Reiner exercising Gus’s option to purchase and to Reiner making the required purchase price payments.

Gus and Reiner then proceeded to work on a Development and Business Plan, in consultation with some of Reiner’s friends and acquaintances, a Vancouver architect, Simon Gould, to design and create a model of the new Lodge; Mick Matheusik, with Horvath Laventhol, a firm specializing in preparing feasibility studies, and Janos Hidi, the then Building Inspector responsible for the Tyaughton Lake and Gold Bridge area.

With the concept quickly expanding and additional funds arranged by Reiner with the Federal Business Development Bank (FDBD) in Vancouver soon being exhausted, and with the banks not considering to provide financing for such a remote unknown wilderness concept, Reiner flew to Germany to interest potential investors to raise ongoing additional funds needed to continue the project. This led him to, amongst others, August Hess in Garmisch Patenkirchen in Bavaria (in the hotel and hospitality business), and his son Gerd in Cologne (in the marketing business).

Not only did August and Gerd have an interest and confidence in the idea, vision and concept to invest additional funds, but both actually came to Canada to visit Tynaughton Lake and to work with Reiner and Gus to help turn the vision and concept into reality.

With the concept thus continuing to develop and progress, August and Gerd both eventually needed to return to Germany. Reiner then flew to Europe again to seek and meet with new potential investors in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Having remained in close contact with August and Gerd, this trip included another visit to Garmisch Patenkirchen for a follow-up meeting with August, who, after his return to Germany, had also continued to promote Tyax with a view of finding new investors amongst his European business contacts. This led to the introduction of Urs Villiger to Reiner.

Urs, a successful businessman and contractor/builder in Switzerland, expressed an interest in participating and investing in Tyax, provided his involvement could be combined with and facilitate his and his family’s interest in immigrating to Canada. One of Reiner’s areas of specialization in his law practice being business immigration, this led to further discussions and cooperation between them. Subsequently Urs became an investor in Tyax as an equal one third shareholder in Tyaughton Lake Wilderness Resorts Ltd. with Reiner and Gus. Urs’ and his family successfuly immigrated to Canada pursuant to the Federal and Provincial Entrepreneur Immigration Program.

Being a successful contractor/builder in Switzerland and a now part owner of Tyax, Urs became involved, through his company Pacific Log Homes Ltd. in building the new Tyax Lodge based on the design and model created by the architect Simon Gould. In 1985, a local contractor and builder and long time resident of the area, Scott McKenzie, joined in the construction of the Tyax Lodge. It took 12 workers 7 months and 7 days to build the then largest free standing 34,000 square foot Log Lodge on the west coast of North America.

The historic opening date was officially on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1986, at 4:30 pm.

The province of British Columbia subsequently created and presented a formal slide show on Tyax, featuring Urs and his family as entrepreneur immigrants under the Canadian Business Immigration Program, as a successful example to other aspiring business immigrants to BC.

In exchange for additionally required capital contributions by Urs, his share in equity holdings was subsequently increased to 60%, with Reiner and Gus retaining 20% respectively; Gus, being unemployed at the time, was then appointed general manager of Tyax and moved to the Lodge.

The concept having been from the beginning that to financially succeed, Tyax would need to be an international four season destination resort, Reiner met with his friend Mike Jacobson of Whistler Mountain Heli skiing. This meeting resulted in the Whistler Heli Skiing operation being extended to Tyax, under the direction of Mike Jacobsen in conjunction with Whistler Heli Skiing, to add the still missing winter season component to Tyax.

Abel opened TLH Heli-skiing in 1991 to serve skiers with nearly a million acres of some of the most incredible snow and terrain in the world. In 2010, TLH merged with Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa to be known as the Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing by the numbers.

With the increasing popularity and success of heli skiing at Tyax in the vast unspoiled Coast Range and Chilcotin Mountain ranges surrounding Tyax, and having established a separate company TLH Heliskiing, serving skiers and boarders with nearly one million acres of some of the most incredible snow and terrain in the world, George Rosset joined Tyax to integrate heli skiing with Tyax as its own entity independent of Whistler, under TLH heli skiing, along with Tyax Air operated by Dale Douglas out of Tyax and connecting it with flights to the Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver and Whistler. TLH heli skiing today is internationally recognized as one of the world’s best known successful heliski/boarding/hiking/mountain biking operations.

TYAX and TLH have become a special attraction for the international tourist market around the world, catering to the international trend towards, and the increasing appeal of, adventure related four season activities including heli mountain, biking, alpine heli hiking in the summer and heli skiing and boarding and ice fishing in the winter, in the unspoiled, pristine wilderness setting of the Chilcotin and Pacific Coast Mountain Ranges.

Urs, for personal health related reasons, having decided to sell his interest in Tyax and it has subsequently been taken over by its new and current owner, Nicholas Savares, who continues to share the founders originally conceived vision. As a result of Nichola’s acquisition of the Tyax, he became the sole owner, although he resides in Belgium.

Sadly, Gus succombed to his lengthy battle with cancer. His wife Marita, who herself had become an integral invaluable part of Tyax, and their two sons now reside near Kelowna in the Okanaga Valley. Reiner, having looked after both his parents for many years until their passing, retired from the practice of law in BC to devote his time to look after his investments. He continues to reside in Vancouver, with Tyax always remaining a fond part of his memory, and its ongoing future success continuing to be closely tied to his heart.

The main lodge still features 29 spacious guest rooms, a spectacular 114-seat lakeview dining room, western lounge, gift shop, fitness room, massage room, sauna, outdoor whirlpool, and meeting room. Within walking distance are four guest chalets, a beachfront campground, riding stable with horses, lumberjack area, tennis and volleyball courts. A lush, green lawn flows down to the sandy beach with boats, canoes, rowboats, paddleboats, motorboats, and sailboards.

In 2017, following substantial renovations, the company updated their name and logo to further unify their family of tourism products. They integrated TLH Heliskiing with Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa to officially become Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing, operated by Tyax Resort and Tyax Adventures. Tyax Resort is still the original Lodge with Tyax Adventures handling the bike/horse and hiking tours in the area.

Tyax Adventures was owned by Dale Douglas and family. In 2022, the adventure company recognized as expert guides to the South Chilcotin and pioneers of floatplane accessed multi-day back country mountain travel were acquired by Blackcomb Helicopters to form their new adventure team tourism division renamed AlpX Expeditions. Blackcomb Helicopters is owned by the McClean Family.

The magic continues, all thanks to the hard work and effort of Gus Abel, Reiner Rothe and Urs Villigier.

For further details, visit: https://tyax.com/

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