Chims Motel – Naomi & Edmond Nicholson

Accommodations, Indigenous Woman Entrepreneur, Tourism | Port Alberni, British Columbia

Naomi & Edmond Nicholson - Owners & Operators of Chims Motel, Port Alberni, BC

“Čims” means ‘Bear’ in the Nuu-chah-nulth Barkley dialect. To help guests pronounce and spell the word, they added “h” to spell “Chims.”

Naomi and Edmond Nicholson are from the Tseshaht First Nation in Port Alberni, British Columbia. They own and operate Chims Motel located on the beautiful Tseshaht Territory on Highway 4.
Chims Guest House started with one guest house on July 11, 2017 and expanded to Chims Motel which offers five independent and detached one-bedroom guest houses with full-size kitchens for personal or professional travel. Two units offer in-suite laundry. Guests can book nightly, weekly, or monthly.
Chims Motel provides a great opportunity to showcase authentic indigenous-designed accommodations. Each unit has artwork matching the branded units: Bear Guest House, Bear Studio House, and the Eagle, Hummingbird, and Raven Houses. Chims Motel has a sustainable focus, asking guests to recycle and compost food waste to reduce the amount of garbage produced. Their lights are all on timers or LED options, and all units have ductless mini-splits with great A/C to combat the 40-degree Port Alberni heat.

What sets them apart from other businesses is that their units allow any-time check-in, and the owners live on site, so someone is always around to help if you need it. Guests are able feel the richness and power of the land watching the c̓ixʷatin (eagles) chase the quʔušin (ravens) that own the trees behind the property. Muwač (deer) visit occasionally, but čims (bears) are more common, with Mount Arrowsmith as the backdrop.
Naomi has a Bachelor of Tourism Management from Vancouver Island University and was a former First Host™ and Super Host® Workshop Trainer for many years. Naomi studied the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Oahu, Hawaii, and was a certified First Host Indigenous Customer Service and Super Host® Trainer. Ed Nicholson has a Bachelor of Science and is an electrician. He owned his own business, Mace Electric, before working for Catalyst Paper. His years of residential and commercial experience can be seen in the design of the Chims Motel property. Ed is the maintenance and facility manager. Both Ed and Naomi are trained in Building Service Worker Level 1 to ensure cleanliness and long-term asset sustainability.
The hurdles and obstacles that Naomi and Ed have overcome are first, of course, COVID-19, which affected everyone! When COVID-19 happened in 2020, Naomi had to pivot and became the general contractor for the property. Next was the 2023, Cameron Lake fire and highway recovery that decimated their business. They lost their sold-out season and weren’t prepared for the emotional toll on guests, especially those who were stuck, afraid of being stuck, or avoiding Port Alberni altogether.

Chims meeting place rental

 

Advice that Naomi would give for someone starting their own business or is a struggling entrepreneur is to get a mentor. She says, ‘You won’t like what they usually have to say, but someone needs to help you get out of the mud.’ Naomi wouldn’t be where she is without education and a good mentor relationship where she can hear the tough feedback and have a safe space to implement the changes needed.

 

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