April 14th, 2021 ~ Vol. 91 No. 15
Charmed Resort to bring cottage experience to Crowsnest Pass
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Submitted photo
Charmed Resorts is coming to the Crowsnest Pass. The resort will feature multiple cottages placed north of Blairmore. The fairytale experience provides visitors a whimsical real life chance to enjoy the outdoors while also living out their favourite fairytales
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
If you’ve ever wanted to live the fairytale lifestyle, you can now do it in the Crowsnest Pass.

Charmed Resort is beginning the process of creating a multi-cottage resort north of Blairmore.

Owner and CEO of Charmed, Tyson Leavitt, began his journey as a landscaper but found himself wanting more.

“Eventually I just kind of got bored of that and I wanted to do something that was cool and could be used in the backyard for kids as well as parents. Previously, I was building all these structures in backyards like pizza ovens, fireplaces or waterfalls that are mostly for adults. I came up with doing an elaborate playhouse tree set and put it in the Home and Garden Show in 2014 and it got some attention. That made me develop the idea further and over the next year I decided to build a Rapunzel tower and cottage based off a suggestion from a client I had."

Leavitt put that creation in the Home and Garden Show in 2015 as his new playhouse company and received great feedback.

"When people walked up to it, their jaws dropped and most of the people thought it was amazing."

Before he knew it, Leavitt was preparing to shoot his own TV show with a channel based in the United States.

"That started me down that path and within the first couple months of that, TLC saw one of our structures that I had tweeted out when I was just trying to get one of our structures on a show for some exposure. They had other ideas. Within the first six months of my business we were filming a TV show. Within the first year of business I was flying all over the United States and installing for celebrities and athletes. I sold my landscape and other businesses and just dove all in."
Diving all in caused some quick learning curves for Leavitt.
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"It was a bit naive jumping into a new industry at a scale that no one has really done before. It came with a lot of problems and over the next couple of years, I was giving away playhouses. I was basically burning through my sale proceeds just to build my brand. We went through some really tough years and eventually it started to just catch and we were able to reach the clientele who can afford our stuff. We were sending these all over the place and starting to make some money."

It wasn’t until more people wanted to experience his creations that Charmed Resorts was created.

"One thing that we were still missing was reaching the masses. We were a very niche product. People kept asking us where they could experience this. Eventually the idea came. These things are as big as houses, we could live in these and people were constantly saying that to us. I thought, yeah people could so why don't we make this so that everyone can come stay in these and have their little dream stay with their kids."

Leavitt says once Covid-19 hit, he had some time to really think about how this could work.

"Covid rolled around and it instantly hurt us. People panicked and we lost quite a bit of work as soon as it hit. I had time to think for myself and decided to do the resort idea and scale it."
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That time lead Leavitt to think about where this could become a reality.

Eventually, the Crowsnest Pass became the ideal location for this resort.

"People are really excited to come to the Crowsnest area. I grew up in southern Alberta and sadly I haven't really even experienced a lot of Crowsnest Pass myself. As my family has began to explore it, we're just shaking our heads with how have we not come and enjoy this area. It's such a beautiful area. We've got a ton of clients who are coming from Calgary and Edmonton who have never been down to the Crowsnest Pass. We've already rented it out to hundreds of different people. It's exciting to have people come from those areas and learn what makes Crowsnest Pass such a beautiful area."

Leavitt says the entire idea of what they are trying to do with this resort can be encapsulated in the Crowsnest Pass.

"Our whole mentality with what we're doing is getting back to the basics and getting back to nature with your family and not being overloaded with electronics. We're creating a really imaginative space with our buildings. It's in an enchanted area so it’s got a lot of trees. We're creating scavenger hunts and fairy trails and people are going to have wood fire hot tubs and fire pits and other things like that. It will really provide experiences that probably a lot of people grew up having but a lot of our kids these days don't get to experience. We're really trying to get back to the cottage core movement; cooking over a fire, enjoying the outdoors and using less and less technology."

Currently, Leavitt says there are three structures close to completion that will be brought to the Crowsnest Pass in the next few weeks.

“We're building it as we can. Right now we have three cottages that we will be dropping in place maybe later this month or early May at the latest. We're going to continue to build more cottages and drop them in place. We don't require a lot of onsite construction. We manufacture our elaborate buildings in our facility and then transport them and drop them in place."

The amount of excitement for this resort shows in how quickly everything was booked for this summer.

“Believe it or not everything is completely booked for this summer already. Each cottage booked up in about two weeks,” said Leavitt.

The excitement doesn’t only come from around southern Alberta either.

“We've got a lot of people all over the world that are going to come as soon as they can. We have a pretty strong TikTok following with around half a million followers on it. They all go crazy about it anytime we make a post about it. We can't wait to be making our videos about the community and the resort once we get out there and get established."
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When it comes to tourism versus mining in the Crowsnest Pass, Leavitt says he didn’t really worry about whether or not the mines would be moving forward.

"I didn't put a lot of thought into what the mine is or isn't doing. I chose the Crowsnest Pass because of how beautiful it is and there's a great population there as well and it's in close proximity to us in Lethbridge. We wanted our first location to be close to us where we can manage it closely and make sure it develops into what we want it to be. I can't say that I'm incredibly educated with what's going on with the mines. Obviously we just want to bring our goodness to the area and do our part in helping that area showcase how great it is."

Charmed has also created somewhere that students graduating from southern Alberta colleges can take their skill and immediately apply it.

This year, Charmed took on 10 practicum students from the Lethbridge College Interior Design Technology and Architectural Animation Technology Programs.

Leavitt says these students are also helping teach him a few things.

“"One reason is that we're a young company when it comes to the resorts and we need lots of talented people to help us develop it. What better way than to tap into the talent that the college has. Having them come and work with us has not only taught them a whole lot but it's also taught us a whole lot. They bring technology and education that we don't have. A lot of this we're learning as we go and growing our company. It's really helpful to have those students come over and also partner with the teachers there as well to help us develop out some of these ideas."
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Naama Tuckett, an instructor with the Interior Design Technology and Architectural Animation Technology Programs at Lethbridge College, says this experience is massive for the students.

"It's a really big opportunity for them because they're not only getting to have the practicum experience of designing but because this is getting built this summer, these students will have the opportunity to see their designs be built in person. It's very exciting this way."

Former LC student and now employee for Charmed, Kyla Hornberger, says the experience working for Charmed is fantastic

"It was very exciting to do the practicum but then when I started working there it became even more exciting because in school, professors are constantly teaching you to see outside the box but at the same time you have to learn all of the basics. With Charmed, they do everything completely different than regular residential or commercial builds. It's all done their own way so you have to use your mind in a totally different experimental way. When you start seeing everything that's possible, it's really inspiring."

When it comes to some of the challenges for Hornberger outside of the classroom, she says there are a few different things that took some getting used to.

"Understanding the workflow. There's a design process that every industry uses to get from point a to point b and then also to be able to do it quickly. Adapting to that rhythm and workflow and the accountability that came with it. On an assignment I can make a note to make sure something is fire retardant, for example but in a real situation I have know that it meets code and I have to have it done by a deadline. There's stronger accountability."

Hornberger adds that working for a special company like Charmed has really inspired her.
"They really are the coolest company. What they can do, I've never seen it before. It's absolutely amazing the dreams that they make happen. There's no other business that does this."

Leavitt says Charmed is also looking to hire some local people to help ensure the resort stays an amazing place to visit.

"We're looking for people to clean our cottages and our bedding. We’re also looking for people to help manage the property. If there are any businesses in the area that feel like they would add to the experience, we would love to talk with them as well."

Interested people can send an email to Charmed Resorts at admin@charmedplayhouses.com.
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April 14th, 2021 ~ Vol. 91 No. 15
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