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One of the most unique new cottage resorts in Alberta, Charmed Family Resorts offers a selection of whimsical camping cottages in the Crowsnest Pass. The resort was conceived, designed, and built by Tyson and Audy Leavitt of Charmed Playhouses, a company that builds luxury playhouses for wealthy and famous clients. The pair also has a popular show on TLC called Playhouse Masters.

Each cottage at the resort has its own theme. There’s a cottage inspired by Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a Rapunzel cottage, and two elven abodes. The small resort opened in the summer of 2020 in the midst of the global pandemic.

We asked Tyson and Audy to share their thoughts on the tourism industry in Alberta and their place in it.

How did your business evolve during the pandemic? What changes or new aspects to your business will you take with you moving forward?

COVID-19 forced us to pivot from just being a playhouse builder to the hospitality industry. We built our resort in a way that our guests can have their own unique experience, while still maintaining health and safety protocols. We originally planned to have shared bathroom accommodations, but we adjusted that in order to allow guests to maintain social distancing. This ultimately has led to greater customer satisfaction.

We know that Albertans are playing a key role in the initial economic recovery of our local tourism industry. What would you say to encourage Albertans to continue exploring their own backyard, even now that it’s possible to travel elsewhere again?

COVID-19 has been a unique experience for our family. It has forced us to be hyper aware of the amazing locations that were right up the road from us and we weren’t even aware of it, from beautiful hikes and amazing restaurants to unique accommodations and entertainment. Our favourite thing to do each weekend as a family is to go on an excursion to discover new hidden gems in Alberta.

What are your hopes for the future of Alberta’s tourism industry? How will your business play a role in that?

Charmed Resorts is at the forefront of the family glamping experience. Our resort has unique play cottages with wood-burning hot tubs. We’re hoping to add additional activities for families in the coming months. Once we prove the success of our model, we plan to expand to other locations.

How can industry work together to recover and build even stronger post-pandemic?

We try to promote and use local businesses as much as possible at our location. We want an authentic experience and the best way to do that is through the talented people in our communities. Collaboration through social media, charitable opportunities, and community events will build a robust tourism industry. Our social media has been viewed by over 100 million viewers and it continues to grow daily.

What is the most valuable part of Alberta’s tourism industry?

Alberta has such a vast geographical variety and open spaces which make it a perfect travel destination for visitors.

What is your favourite “hidden gem” in Alberta?

Alberta has many hidden gems. Our favourite hidden gems in the Crownest Pass are Star Creek Falls and Chinook Lake. Castle Falls is a favourite hidden gem in Castle Provincial Park.

What is your favourite memory of travelling in Alberta?

One of our favourite travel memories was hiking to Star Creek Falls as a family. It’s a fantastic family hike with great views. Another favourite memory was visiting Gargantua, a massive cave that requires hiking and rappelling skills to explore. Both adventures are located in the Crowsnest Pass.

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