This holiday resort will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the pages of a fairytale.
Tucked away in a forest in the Canadian province of Alberta, Charmed Resorts brings childhood stories to life through 12 life-sized fantasy vacation rentals spread across two areas of woodland named ‘Wonder Way’ and ‘Storybook Square’.
The ‘storybook cottages’ include Belle’s Cottage on Wonder Way, inspired by Beauty and the Beast, and on Storybook Square there’s Rapunzel’s Tower, based on the high tower where the fictional Princess Rapunzel famously let down her long hair, and Jack’s Cottage, decorated with a bright blue door and a giant beanstalk twisting its way up the wall.
Other Storybook Square cottages include Rumpelstiltskin’s Tower, Hatter’s House, and Gingerbread Cottage, described by the resort as the home of the Wicked Witch in the story Hansel and Gretel.
Charmed Resorts in Canada comprises a selection of storybook cottages including Rapunzel’s Tower, pictured here
Rapunzel’s Tower is based on the high tower where the fictional Princess Rapunzel famously let down her long hair. The two pictures above show the interior
At Wonder Way, meanwhile, guests will also find the resort’s popular Peter Pan-themed Neverland collection, which comprises Captain Hook’s Ship, Wendy’s Townhouse, and the Lost Boys’ Treehouse.
Guests at the three-storey treehouse can look out for ‘Peter Pan’s shadow’, which is painted on one of the walls inside, and take advantage of its wraparound balcony, which connects to an outdoor slide.
Wendy’s Townhouse also features an outdoor slide, while inside there is enough room for a dining table where guests can enjoy ‘teatime’ with a view of Belle’s Cottage.
Founder and creator Audrey Leavitt, 37, who runs the resort with her landscaper husband Tyson, 39, said Wendy’s Townhouse is based on the London home of Wendy, John, and Michael in Disney’s Peter Pan.
‘I love it,’ she said.
‘We got to do a lot of Victorian-inspired decor on the inside mixed with some Peter Pan whimsical additions as well.
‘It has queen bunkbeds upstairs, built all inhouse, that are really cool.’
Audrey said ‘Tinkerbell’s house is coming next’ to the Peter Pan collection, which is a big hit among guests.
‘All our Peter Pan builds are currently guest favourites,’ she added.
‘They are our newest ones, they also have kitchen sinks in them. They’re a little bit bigger and they’re in a little bit more of a private area at the resort.
Jack’s Cottage is decorated with a bright blue door and a giant beanstalk twisting its way up the wall, while inside features a mixture of queen-sized beds and bunkbeds
‘Those ones seem to be the most popular right now as well as Rapunzel’s Cottage, which was the second cottage that we built and has always been a favourite among our guests.’
She added: ‘One time, we showed up and there were two families totally dressed up in Peter-Pan-themed clothes. They had all the characters there.
‘It was so cute and we ended up filming a TikTok with them because they were just so awesome.’
Cottages sleep between four and six guests and are furnished with a mixture of queen-sized beds and bunkbeds, providing a ‘campground’ atmosphere surrounded by lakes, hiking and biking trails, and rivers.
They each come equipped with an electric fireplace, a wood-fired hot tub, a kitchenette with a small fridge and microwave, an outdoor BBQ or griddle, a firepit and a picnic table.
‘You’re really there to enjoy the outdoor camping experience but in a really cool, themed environment,’ Audrey added.
Audrey and Tyson originally went into business building custom playhouses for ‘whimsical’ families under the name Charmed Playhouses.
But as their playhouses became more intricate, they decided to open Charmed Resorts and invite guests to stay overnight at what they describe on their website as ‘a campground full of storybook cottages’.
Wendy’s Townhouse features ‘Victorian inspired decor’ mixed with ‘some Peter Pan whimsical additions’, Audrey said
Audrey and Tyson pictured with their four children Emmett, 14, Miles, 13, Lydia, 11, and Wynn, four months. The Leavitt family get to enjoy the ‘fairytale environment’ alongside guests who come to stay
LEFT: The Wendy Townhouse is equipped with queen-sized bunkbeds upstairs. RIGHT: There is a daybed in the downstairs lounge area
Audrey said: ‘Our playhouses were getting bigger and more beautiful and very few people have the time or the space to put one in their backyard.
‘So we really wanted to make some sort of product that was more accessible to a lot of families to enjoy.
‘We talked about the resort for a while before we opened it, about how much fun it would be to have a bunch of families come and visit at once.’
The couple, parents to Emmet, 14, Miles, 13, Lydia, 11, and Wynn, four months, are often inspired by the things they loved as children and the things their own children love now.
Their ideas are then presented to the Charmed Resorts 25-strong team, who give their input, as well as TikTok followers on the company’s charmed.fam page.
Inspired by Beauty and the Beast, Belle’s Cottage sleeps up to six guests and is one of five cottages available to book at Wonder Way
Future ideas put to their followers on TikTok include ‘Snow White’s Cottage complete with a thatched roof’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’s Tower overgrown with ivy and moss’, and the ‘Little Mermaid’s Seaside Cottage where she visits her mermaid family’.
Audrey said: ‘We have an idea… and then we take it to our team at work.
‘We also usually put our ideas out on social media and we let our followers be the final voice that decides what comes next.
‘That’s really fun for people who follow us, they get to be part of the process from start to finish.
‘It usually comes together really well when we run it through all those stages of scrutiny.’
Each accommodation takes between three and five weeks to build inhouse at the resort, in Blairmore, which has been running for two years, with the cottage-building operation now in its eighth year.
‘We have a pretty awesome team from start to finish, right from the design phase to building and construction inhouse and the installation, which usually takes place with a crane onsite,’ Audrey said.
‘With planning, it takes a little longer but the building part we can finish in a month.’
Like all Charmed Resorts cottages, Rumpelstiltskin’s Tower comes equipped with a mixture of double beds and bunkbeds, an electric fire, an outdoor wood-fired hot tub and a picnic area. This property is in the Storybook Square area
Audrey said: ‘We build our own cottages. We build everything from windows and doors to all the little details.’
The company’s inhouse design team is based at the resort and its factory is in the nearby city of Lethbridge, where Audrey and her family live.
In the past, guests have hired out areas of the resort to host special events and even weddings – but the waiting list for tying the knot currently sits at two years.
The resort celebrated 100 per cent occupancy across all its 11 cottages in July and has welcomed guests from across the US, Canada, and beyond.
Audrey said it is ‘a very humbling experience’ and that the family ‘could not ask for more’.
Audrey recalled showing up at Captain Hook’s Ship cottage (above) to find two families dressed up in Peter Pan costumes with ‘all characters’ represented
Gingerbread Cottage, which sleeps six, is described by the resort as the home of the Wicked Witch from the story Hansel and Gretel
She added: ‘My other kids were around for the grind of starting out new business and Wynn gets to grow up in this fairytale environment, so we are so excited about that.’
Fans of Charmed Resorts can also design and order their own playhouse or doghouse from Audrey and Tyson, under the ‘shop’ section of their website.
‘Our team is dedicated to tapping into our clients’ imagination, extracting their vision, and making it a reality,’ the page says.
BOOK YOUR FAIRYTALE GETAWAY
Prices at Storybook Square start from $295 (£227) while prices at Wonder Way begin at $410 (£315).
The former comprises Lia’s Cottage and Elvyn’s Cottage – sleeping four – plus Midsummer Cottage, Jack’s Cottage, Rapunzel’s Cottage, Rumpelstiltskin’s Tower, and Gingerbread Cottage – sleeping six.
At the latter, guests will find Belle’s Cottage, Hatter’s House, the Lost Boys’ Treehouse, Wendy’s Townhouse, and Hook’s Pirate Ship, all sleeping six.