August 10, 2022

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Cannot 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 one particular of the ‘play cottages’ Tyson Leavitt states will be portion of the Alberta resort he plans to open this year. This one particular arrives complete with Rapunzel braid flowing from a single window. Leavitt has been making luxurious playhouses for yrs.

For any person who’s ever dreamed of escaping fact to live in a fairytale for a minor whilst, Tyson Leavitt is hoping to just take your reservation this summer.

His Alberta corporation has been producing higher-end children’s backyard playhouses for the rich and renowned for 5 yrs — such as kids’ castles, playground pirate ships or tree houses — with some fetching up to a fifty percent-million bucks.

Now, the former landscaper from Lethbridge, Alta., is performing on options to open up his to start with vacation resort in the province this 12 months, offering playhouse cottages that families can lease.

“We wanted to be equipped to do one thing that we could enable all households to be in a position to practical experience the magic of what we establish,” mentioned Leavitt, who owns Charmed Playhouses with his spouse, Audy.

To individuals unfamiliar with the Leavitts’ operate, or their Tv set present on TLC, the thought of spending a weekend in a playhouse with the youngsters could possibly sound a bit much more like a hardship than enjoyment. 

That is, right until you see the playhouses they develop — and the cottages they have prepared.

A Cinderella story

Utilizing a staff of 15 persons, their high-stop playhouses are built from wooden. Artists sculpt Styrofoam to increase embellishments like huge mushrooms or colossal tree stumps. There are towers and spires as effectively as slides, swings and climbing partitions.

Clientele have invested amongst $15,000 and $500,000 to get one particular, the Leavitts say, with customers coming from as significantly away as China.  

Customers — the ones they can converse about — include basketball celebrity Steph Curry, pro golfer Jason Working day and baseball’s Ryan Zimmerman.

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



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 entrance of one particular of the cottages that will be element of their new vacation resort in southern Alberta.

“We variety of thought we may be capable to persuade individuals to commit $5,000 or $10,000 on a playhouse and it truly is turned into folks eager to devote a few hundred thousand pounds,” Audy Leavitt reported. “So it was just as shocking to us as it really is been to any person else.”

Generating something obtainable

But the Leavitts, who appear from blue-collar backgrounds them selves, said they wanted to make anything that was accessible to additional households like theirs.

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

Their strategy focuses on cottages created around storylines. One case in point is a cottage with a tower and a Rapunzel-like braid flowing from its window. 

Equivalent to a little home, the cottages can accommodate up to 6 people today, come with a kitchenette and are made for yr-spherical use. 

“We’re going to have all diverse kinds of cottages at the resorts,” Tyson mentioned. “Irrespective of whether it’s a tree dwelling or a storybook house or Rapunzel’s tower or 50 percent-ling homes or castles.”

The expected price of renting 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
One particular of 15 staff at Charmed Playhouses, which will make luxury playhouses at its shop in Lethbridge, Alta., is effective on a tree built from polystyrene foam.

Last July, Charmed introduced a demo cottage in close proximity to Waterton National Park in southern Alberta. It failed to get prolonged for the cottage to be booked all the way into October.

The new resort will be located in southwest Alberta’s Crowsnest Go, about 150 kilometres west of Lethbridge. The ultimate prepare is to have as quite a few as 20 cottages available to hire.

Craving activities in excess of things

It really is hard to know accurately what the tourism market place will glimpse like as the nation little by little emerges from the pandemic — such as the distances men and women will be inclined, or able, to travel — but Rachel Dodds, a professor of hospitality and tourism administration at Ryerson College, thinks some pre-pandemic developments will proceed.

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

“We crave factors to do, experiences to have with our little ones, with our buddies and family members,” Dodds stated in an job interview. “If it truly is exclusive and distinctive and can by some means convey in some type of discovering, which is even far 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 creating for the resort will be capable to accommodate up to six people today.

Dodds pointed to Singapore’s Changi airport, in which shoppers are paying out up to $269 US for every night to camp in a tent in its retail wing, a novel travel expertise that is proven common and aiding the airport make improvements to revenues during the pandemic.

Nearer to house, she observed the level of popularity of digital visits to museums and attractions, like the Vancouver Aquarium, during COVID-19, demonstrating people’s appetite to master and share ordeals.

She expects interactive reveals will again be large draws in the potential, like Marvel’s Avengers-themed exhibition in Toronto. Absolutely everyone would like a “very little bit of inspiration, a small bit of hope.”

“Individuals are having really artistic proper now and I appreciate it,” she said.

Tyson and Audy Leavitt hope folks will flock to their notion, as well. For now, the aim is on obtaining prepared for what they hope will be their spring start.

“We have definitely considered in what we’re executing,” Audy explained. 

“That has held us going via all those tricky periods and … now we are really, definitely grateful to be in which we are — even however we have a very long way to go.”

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