CANMORE, Alta. — Three new hotels have opened in Canmore under the umbrella of Basecamp Resorts. Owner, Sky McLean, wanted to cater to a new generation of travellers that are flocking to Canmore, and saw the opportunity to open various hospitality projects that cater to this group.
Most Canmore hotels fully embrace traditional “mountain cabin” design, whereas McLean is incorporating contemporary design into her projects. She also incorporated a digital concierge, which makes it easier for savvy travellers to check in and check out.
McLean graduated with an MBA in Real Estate Development; then worked for a developer in Calgary. At the time she had two condos that she was renting out under Airbnb. She thought, “if I build a building based on the same knowledge and focused on the Airbnb model, then I can keep control of the building, owning and managing it myself.”
That's how Basecamp Resorts was born. “The designers thought of the name, Basecamp,” McLean said. “Historically, it was known to be the start of an explorer's journey.” Hence, the resorts' tagline: “Where your adventures begin.”
“You can go to a spa or a restaurant, hike a mountain or ski like crazy,” McLean said. She added that the Canmore real estate market is on fire, and tourism is doing well, almost record levels in fact.
McLean's first project was a 32-unit new-build named Basecamp Resorts. The design was a combination of Studio North and Systemic Architecture for the exterior. It opened last year on Highway 1A (Bow Valley Trail), the main drag for people coming off the highway into Canmore. Each unit is a self-contained home away from home, with a rooftop hot tub, washer and dryer. “It was a townhome project, zoned as a hotel, and I pay taxes and the DMF,” she said.
In October, 2017, McLean acquired the building next door, which had been a Country Inn and then a hostel since 2007. She called it Basecamp Lodge. There's no front desk; the resort is all self check-in. “This works for sophisticated millennial travellers, though we're probably losing some business from people who want a front desk,” McLean said.
The addition of Basecamp Lodge, which opened recently, extended travellers' options, as it offered 30 double queen, double king and single king hotel rooms. “We're adding a cedar sauna next week. There's a fireplace, it's newly renovated and we fixed the floor and vanities.”
The third property is the former Bow Valley Motel, which has been a Canmore staple for many years. “It was one of the first hotels in Canmore and hadn't been renovated since the 1970s,” McLean said. “Its location is the best on Main Street, on the creek.”
The newest addition is not part of the Basecamp brand; it's a new brand called the Lamphouse Hotel. “The Lamphouse building was where miners used to get together,” she explained. It opened on May 18.
The Lamphouse has 25 traditional hotel rooms. “We wanted to differentiate it. We added subway tiles to the bathrooms and a barnboard feature wall. There's all new furniture and carpets.”
The Lamphouse Hotel also offers Breakfast in a Crate. Between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m., guests will hear a knock on their door, with a basket of fresh goodies. These include orange juice, fresh fruit, granola and yogurt, scones and bagels from Rocky Mountain Bagel. Selections include vegan and gluten free options. If the guest's day starts earlier or later, there will be a basket of fresh goodies at the front desk from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. If they want to sleep in, they can put the “do not disturb” sign on the door.
“It's great to have the 90 rooms [between the three properties],” McLean said. “It makes operations run much smoother, and we can have the right amount of team members running overall operations. With the 32 original rooms, it was a two-person job.”
While McLean had millennials in mind when she started the hotels, she finds that her guests comes from all age ranges, especially in the first Basecamp Resort, which has kitchens, washers and dryers, and is suitable for intergenerational travel.