A castle in Sturgeon County, Alta., is transforming into a bed and breakfast — inviting its first guests inside on New Year’s Eve.
The home has been under construction for 13 years.
“We started in 2006 and the main part of the home was completed in 2008. Then we continued to build the pool area… and then the carriage house,” owner Barbara Ryan explained.
Ryans Castle was inspired by a castle in Italy and even features a moat, in the form of surrounding wetlands.
The interior does not disappoint. Ryan designed it herself, collecting furnishings from around the world.
“I’m going for the formal look, a European style. A lot of my pieces, like this table, came from McElheran’s on Jasper Avenue,” Ryan explained — pointing to a table with inlaid compartments.
“I’ve also got things from auctions in the United States and Europe and had them shipped here.”
For years, the castle has been a mystery to passersby.
“We have locked gates so nobody’s seen the inside, until I put up my website,” Ryan said.
Ryan and her husband launched the website after deciding to open up the home as a bed and breakfast.
“It’s something we can do together, my husband and I. And as we age, it’ll be nice to have a little business at home,” Ryan explained.
They’re expecting their first guests, from Bonnyville, Alta., to arrive New Year’s Eve. Ryan, a self-proclaimed introvert, said she’s nervous but also excited to host them.
“I want to treat them like royalty. I want them to feel like they’re very, very special when they’re with us. I’m going to try my very best to be a great host.”
A one-night stay at Ryans Castle costs $995. The price was strategically set.
“If I made it $200 to $300, then I would have had bookings every day. That’s not what I’m looking for,” Ryan said.
“I want something people can go to for an experience and it’s very exclusive.”
The castle features a full-size indoor pool and a room full of exotic birds, almost all of which have been rescued.
Those aren’t the only animals on the property.
“I have ducks and miniature goats and Andalusian horses. It’s a petting zoo out there,” Ryan said.
The castle also boasts a special collection.
“We have a collection of Catholic relic saints, bones of saints and pieces of the true cross, passion relics. There’s a collection of over 1,500 — it’s the largest in Canada.”
Though the front of the building largely looks complete, the back side remains under construction today.
“We’re starting with one room with the BnB and we’ll see how it goes,” Ryan said. “If I like it and it works well and it’s easy to do, then I’ll add a couple more rooms and go from there. With weddings and photography.”