If you’ve ever dreamed of living inside a fairytale, that dream could soon come true for those living in and visiting southern Alberta.
Charmed Playhouses, a luxury builder in Lethbridge, has been creating custom giant playhouses for the last five years.
They were featured on a season of TLC’s Playhouse Masters, and have had clientele from across North America.
Owners Audy and Tyson Leavitt say when they initially started the business, they thought they would be mainly serving locals.
“One of our most recent (clients) was Kevin Jonas (and) we’ve done work for Stephan Curry,” said Audy Leavitt.
Their creations, many of which cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, are mainly made from wood and hand-carved polystyrene foam.
“It’s unbelievable what you can do with foam,” said employee Nolan No Chief, who is an expert foam carver. “I love doing it on a giant scale.”
No Chief says his favourite project to date was a Star Wars-themed playhouse for the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
Although their playhouse business has been booming, the Leavitts say they realized they were excluding a portion of the population who can’t afford the luxury pieces.
“We really also wanted to expand in a way that included people with not quite the same budgets as the people who can afford our custom playhouses,” Audy explained.
With that goal in mind, they launched their Charmed Resorts test run near Waterton, Alta., in the summer of 2020, renting out the Midsummer Cottage to families for just under $400 per night.
“Everything when really well, we booked up faster than anticipated and the feedback was really good and people were really excited.”
Now, they are in the process of creating a total of five separate cottages to make up a resort in the Crowsnest Pass.
Audy says they had initially planned to only be open for four months per year, but with requests to stay open longer, they plan to operate year-round.
“It’s really important to us that the resort actually feels like you are falling into a story book,” she said. “I think that’s like a lot of people’s biggest dream”
June 1, 2021 is their goal opening date, and they hope to have a total of five cottages available for this summer.
“They’re all going to be different themes,” she said. “We have a Rapunzel cottage, we have a fairy cottage, and then we’re going to have a Wendy’s townsite and we want some Viking themed stuff as well.”
While travel remains uncertain amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the resorts will mainly be targeting Albertans this year. However, there is excitement around the tourism possibilities the Charmed Resorts will bring to the region.
“As a Lethbridge organization, we’re excited that there’s a possibility they’re going to bring even more people to our really incredible region,” Tourism Lethbridge’s marketing director Stephen Braund said.
“There are so many iconic attractions in southern Alberta, I think this will fit right in.”
The Leavitts say some bookings are already available on their website.