Alberta is known for a number of unique tourist draws like Drumheller, the Rockies, West Edmonton Mall and soon, a medieval/Middle-Earth-inspired bed and breakfast.
Daniel Smith, president of Good Knights Entertainment, started a luxury medieval “glamping” (also known as glamorous camping) resort near Three Hills this year.
Smith and his wife moved to the area from Calgary 10 years ago and have hosted a massive medieval feast annually but decided they wanted more.
Smith said the medieval glamping really took off and they had a great first year, with a bigger turnout then they had hoped for.
He explained there were over 50 parties and more than 400 people during the feasts and, while they weren’t full every night, they had a few full weekends.
“You never know how good it will be for a first season but we’re pretty pleased,” Smith said.
The medieval venue offers guests a luxury medieval tent or a Tudor Double pavilion, with authentic four-post beds, trunks and chests, breakfast brought to their tent, period costumes to wear and a communal kitchen. Add-on options for feasts and other medieval gear are also available to immerse visitors in the experience.
With the success of the camp, the couple is now looking to expand.
Smith said they are now introducing Middle-Earth to the mix with the Bagg Inn Burrows, a luxury hobbit hole accommodation.
All the utilities and support buildings are in the ground and built, which means the Smiths have their eyes on the future.
“What we’re going to be doing is building two or three of these burrows — what we’re calling burrows, basically they’re Earth-bermed cottages we’re building into the hillside of our property — that are going to be really luxurious, very comfortable and cozy, as any hobbit hole should be,” Smith said.
For guests concerned about comfort, Smith insists the tents are luxurious and the hobbit holes will be as well.
“We’re looking at between 300- and 400-square-foot cottages that will be fully built into the hillside with grass on the roof, the little garden out front and everything else.
“People want that, there is a real desire for them and not just among the fans.”
The burrows will have round windows and doors, a richly decorated interior with a bedroom, hall, bathroom and a sitting room. It will also have a fireplace, authentic “Halfling” costumes for guests to wear, plenty of hooks to hang cloaks and of course, first, second and “elevensies” breakfasts delivered to your door.
“One of our goals is to create something — a park — here but we don’t want to call it a theme park but essentially it is,” Smith said. “It is a… cross between medieval and Middle-Earth and we have this site which we’re developing. We’ve got a number of things we want to go to but we want to keep the numbers low. This isn’t a Disneyland kind of thing.”
The goal is to create an intimate theme park experience. There are workshops for lucent hand weaving, pewter casting, candle making, leather craft, embroidery, and siege machine craft. Guests can also go to jesters’ school or squires’ school during their stay.
Smith used ATB Financial’s BoostR program to help get the project going and has surpassed the $10,000 goal with 25 days left.
“You come here and we’ll provide everything,” he said. “All you need is your sense of adventure.
“It is experiential because we have long-bow archery, medieval crafts, games, feasts on Saturday night. All of that is part of this experience we’re going to be providing.”
Good Knights Entertainment hosted a medieval-themed wedding this summer and is hoping to get more involved with similar events.
Smith says they are very interested in hosting weddings, birthdays and any other special event, in a Middle-Earth or medieval style of course.
The Bagg Inn Burrows will open in 2018 and the Medieval Encampment will open again next season.