January 26, 2022

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Can not pay for a luxury playhouse? An Alberta builder is opening a ‘play cottage’ resort

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a clock hanging off the side of a building: The ornate rooftops of one of the 'play cottages' Tyson Leavitt says will be part of the Alberta resort he plans to open this year. This one comes complete with Rapunzel braid flowing from one window. Leavitt has been making luxury playhouses for years.


© Kyle Bakx/CBC
The ornate rooftops of 1 of the ‘play cottages’ Tyson Leavitt suggests will be section of the Alberta resort he designs to open this calendar year. This one arrives full with Rapunzel braid flowing from a single window. Leavitt has been creating luxurious playhouses for many years.

For anyone who’s ever dreamed of escaping reality to stay in a fairytale for a minimal though, Tyson Leavitt is hoping to choose your reservation this summer time.

His Alberta firm has been building high-end children’s backyard playhouses for the rich and renowned for five several years — together with kids’ castles, playground pirate ships or tree houses — with some fetching up to a half-million dollars.

Now, the previous landscaper from Lethbridge, Alta., is operating on ideas to open up his first resort in the province this year, offering playhouse cottages that families can rent.

“We preferred to be capable to do some thing that we could make it possible for all family members to be in a position to working experience the magic of what we make,” explained Leavitt, who owns Charmed Playhouses with his spouse, Audy.

To these unfamiliar with the Leavitts’ operate, or their Television set show on TLC, the plan of paying a weekend in a playhouse with the young ones may well seem a little bit additional like a hardship than entertaining. 

That is, until eventually you see the playhouses they create — and the cottages they have planned.

A Cinderella story

Using a staff of 15 people, their large-conclusion playhouses are built from wood. Artists sculpt Styrofoam to increase embellishments like big mushrooms or colossal tree stumps. There are towers and spires as properly as slides, swings and climbing partitions.

Shoppers have expended amongst $15,000 and $500,000 to get one, the Leavitts say, with purchasers coming from as far absent as China.  

Customers — the kinds they can discuss about — consist of basketball superstar Steph Curry, professional golfer Jason Day and baseball’s Ryan Zimmerman.

As small business tales go, Charmed Playhouses is a bit of a Cinderella story.



a person standing in front of a building: Tyson and Audy Leavitt, owners of Charmed Playhouses, stand in front of one of the cottages that will be part of their new resort in southern Alberta.


© Tony Seskus/CBC
Tyson and Audy Leavitt, proprietors of Charmed Playhouses, stand in front of one of the cottages that will be portion of their new vacation resort in southern Alberta.

“We sort of considered we could possibly be equipped to encourage men and women to shell out $5,000 or $10,000 on a playhouse and it can be turned into men and women prepared to commit a several hundred thousand dollars,” Audy Leavitt mentioned. “So it was just as stunning to us as it’s been to any person else.”

Producing a little something available

But the Leavitts, who come from blue-collar backgrounds themselves, said they needed to make one thing that was available to a lot more households like theirs.

So they’re setting up “play cottages” for a resort that they’re striving to open up as early as this spring.  

Their strategy focuses on cottages designed all around storylines. One example is a cottage with a tower and a Rapunzel-like braid flowing from its window. 

Comparable to a tiny house, the cottages can accommodate up to six people, come with a kitchenette and are made for year-round use. 

“We’re heading to have all unique kinds of cottages at the resorts,” Tyson claimed. “Whether it really is a tree residence or a storybook residence or Rapunzel’s tower or 50 %-ling properties or castles.”

The expected cost of leasing 1 of the cottages will be about $300 to $400 a working day.



One of 15 employees at Charmed Playhouses, which makes luxury playhouses at its shop in Lethbridge, Alta., works on a tree made from polystyrene foam.


© Kyle Bakx/CBC
Just one of 15 staff members at Charmed Playhouses, which will make luxurious playhouses at its store in Lethbridge, Alta., functions on a tree built from polystyrene foam.

Final July, Charmed launched a demo cottage in close proximity to Waterton Nationwide Park in southern Alberta. It did not get long for the cottage to be booked all the way into October.

The new resort will be situated in southwest Alberta’s Crowsnest Move, about 150 kilometres west of Lethbridge. The best strategy is to have as lots of as 20 cottages available to rent.

Craving activities in excess of issues

It is really tough to know accurately what the tourism market place will seem like as the region slowly emerges from the pandemic — such as the distances individuals will be prepared, or equipped, to vacation — but Rachel Dodds, a professor of hospitality and tourism management at Ryerson College, thinks some pre-pandemic traits will keep on.

That includes families seeking to share unique experiences rather than purchasing things, she mentioned. 

“We crave things to do, encounters to have with our kids, with our mates and family members,” Dodds said in an interview. “If it’s exclusive and unique and can in some way bring in some kind of discovering, that’s even better.”



The cottages that Charmed Playhouses is building for the resort will be able to accommodate up to six people.


© Kyle Bakx/CBC
The cottages that Charmed Playhouses is building for the vacation resort will be ready to accommodate up to six persons.

Dodds pointed to Singapore’s Changi airport, where prospects are paying out up to $269 US for every night time to camp in a tent in its retail wing, a novel travel knowledge that’s demonstrated well-known and assisting the airport increase revenues during the pandemic.

Nearer to household, she mentioned the attractiveness of virtual visits to museums and attractions, like the Vancouver Aquarium, throughout COVID-19, demonstrating people’s appetite to understand and share encounters.

She expects interactive displays will again be massive attracts in the potential, like Marvel’s Avengers-themed exhibition in Toronto. Everybody desires a “small bit of inspiration, a minor bit of hope.”

“Folks are obtaining seriously imaginative appropriate now and I like it,” she mentioned.

Tyson and Audy Leavitt hope individuals will flock to their strategy, also. For now, the concentration is on obtaining completely ready for what they hope will be their spring start.

“We’ve actually considered in what we’re undertaking,” Audy reported. 

“That has held us heading by those hard times and … now we are seriously, definitely grateful to be where we are — even nevertheless we have a extended way to go.”

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