Skip to main content

Female entrepreneur's boutique mountain hotel chain takes over Alberta, B.C. hospitality sectors

A Canadian female entrepreneur is carving out her place in the hospitality sector in Alberta and B.C. with her boutique mountain hotel chain.

"We just aim to make people feel good. We're in the business of good experiences," said Sky McLean, founder and CEO of Basecamp Resorts.

McLean earned an MBA in real estate development from the Schulich School of Business at York University.

After graduation, she moved from her home province of Ontario to Calgary, chasing a love of the outdoors.

McLean began working with local developers, but things started heating up when she bought a condo in Canmore to rent out on Airbnb.

From there, she fell in love with hospitality and set out to create her own hotel chain.

"As I got into it, I loved the opportunity to provide people with experiences. So, you know, what are the things that people remember as a family, as a group, as a bachelorette party?" McLean told CTV News.

"The idea right from the get-go was to create suites that are essentially a home away from home."

Basecamp Resorts Canmore. (Courtesy: Basecamp Resorts)

McLean started in 2017 with one property in Canmore under the Basecamp brand.

Then, she opened three more in Canmore, one in Revelstoke, one in Golden and just recently opened locations in Lake Louise, Canmore, Banff and Kananaskis for a total of 10 in the chain.

Some were built from the ground up and some were acquisitions from previous locations that were renovated.

The properties range from resorts and suites that have full kitchens, bedrooms and living areas, to more traditional mountain lodges, cabins and glamping.

“We want to have this experience where you go to the same brand and you know exactly what you’re going to get,” McLean said.  

Basecamp Suites Banff. (Courtesy: Basecamp Resorts)

Joe Pavelka, an ecotourism and outdoor leadership professor at Mount Royal University, calls McLean's story remarkable.

"What she is doing is based on a lot of strategic knowledge and understanding and I just think an enormous amount of perseverance," he said.

Pavelka says in order to succeed in the highly competitive hospitality sector, you have to stand out and know your market — two things he believes Basecamp Resorts does well.

"The fact that they have a number of small, niche properties, it works very much in their favour," he said.

"People really want to feel as though they're being treated as an individual and in a special way, and I think some of the larger properties, as strong as they are, have a higher hill to climb when it comes to that."

Basecamp Suites Canmore. (Courtesy: Basecamp Resorts)

From being a woman in the male-dominated hospitality and real estate industries, to navigating a global pandemic, McLean's success didn’t happen overnight.

"During COVID, it was really hard. When you're a start-up, it's really hard. Finding investors and finding people who will believe in your dream as an entrepreneur is like, nearly impossible," she said.

"It's not like I came from this family with all this money and they just cut cheques. No, I had to go and hustle and find it and get the debt, get organized."

Five years later, Basecamp Resorts has become Western Canada's fastest-growing hospitality brand.

Basecamp Resorts Revelstoke. (Courtesy: Basecamp Resorts)

McLean is preparing to open additional locations in Canmore and Revelstoke and her first in Fernie. She is even considering expanding to Ontario and the U.S.

"There's always risk, there's always uncertainty," McLean said.

"But personally, I feel really good about the business. I feel really good about the brand. I feel really good about our growth trajectory."

In addition to running Basecamp Resorts, McLean actively develops residential real estate properties in smaller, underserved rural mountain communities.

Basecamp Lodge Golden. (Courtesy: Basecamp Resorts)

McLean encourages others looking to get into the industry to not be intimidated and to not let what anyone says stop them from doing what they want to do.

"The opportunity is not going to fall in your lap, that's for darn sure, in any industry," she said.

"I think it's all just about having the confidence that it's going to happen and really believing it, and I truly did. In the depths of my soul, I knew this was going to happen if it was the last thing I did." 

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

CBC says it is cutting 600 jobs, some programming as it slashes budget

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and Radio-Canada will eliminate about 600 jobs and not fill an additional 200 vacancies. The cuts at CBC come days after the Liberal government suggested it may cap the amount of money CBC and Radio-Canada could get under a $100 million deal Ottawa recently signed with Google.

Stay Connected