Travel & Culture

International Women’s Day Profile: Sky McLean

February 28, 2024

With a mission to disrupt the traditional hotel model, Sky McLean has built the modern hospitality brand Basecamp Resorts from the ground up, growing it into Western Canada’s fastest growing hospitality brand and one of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies. Basecamp Resorts now has 13 boutique hotel properties and accommodations in mountain towns in Alberta and British Columbia, and Sky is one of the few female hoteliers in Canada. We chatted with Sky to learn more. —Vita Daily

Please tell us a bit about yourself to start!

I’m all about embracing adventure and seeking out new experiences. As the CEO & Founder of Basecamp Resorts, a vibrant hospitality and real estate development company nestled in the heart of Western Canada, I’m dedicated to curating unforgettable moments and challenging the status quo. For me, innovation isn’t just a buzzword – it’s the driving force behind everything we do. I thrive on pushing boundaries and thinking outside the box. Originally from Ontario, I pursued my MBA in real estate at York University. However, it was after I moved to Calgary that I truly discovered my passion. At 29, I took a bold step, purchasing a cozy condo in Canmore and diving into the world of Airbnb. That leap of faith grew into Basecamp Resorts, which now boasts 13 boutique hotels across Alberta and British Columbia. Beyond business, my heart belongs to my family. I’m the proud mom of two incredible little ones who inspire and keep me on my toes every day. If I’m not at home or work, you’ll often find me playing in the mountains – whether it’s carving through fresh powder on skis or tearing up the trails on a snowmobile or bike.

When and why did you launch Basecamp Resorts? What niche were/are you aiming to fill? What services do you currently offer, and what makes them unique?

I launched Basecamp Resorts in 2016 after identifying a gap in the hospitality industry during my travels – a need for spaces that seamlessly blend the comforts of home with the excitement and convenience of hotel stays. The vision was clear: create a branded ‘home away from’ experience where families and groups could come together. While each Basecamp Resorts property offers unique amenities, our commitment to exceptional service remains consistent, offering 24/7 concierge support. Our Suites & Resorts properties feature full-size kitchens stocked with everything you need, spacious living areas, and the added convenience of a washer and dryer in each unit. Plus, guests can unwind in rooftop hot tubs for an added touch of relaxation. Our latest flagship hotel, MTN House by Basecamp (in Canmore, AB), takes luxury to new heights and it hosts our first restaurant Rhythm & Howl, helmed by Chef Jason, and luxurious finishes in every room. As we continue to evolve, we’re excited to introduce the first Nordic Spa in Canmore, setting a new standard for comfort and elegance in the industry.

What was some of the inspiration, for you, behind the dream, design and development of Basecamp Resorts?

Much of the inspiration behind the dream of Basecamp Resorts came from my burning desire to be my own boss and a real estate developer. The design and development were further shaped by my travel experiences, from my youth traveling with friends to now traveling with my two young children. These experiences underscored the importance of creating family-friendly accommodations, leading us to prioritize multi-bedroom and bathroom layouts and fully equipped kitchens in our properties. We want our guests to feel at home, even when they’re away from home. As Basecamp has evolved, we’ve expanded to include various types of hotels and have tailored our offerings to meet the diverse needs of our guests. Through the development of sub-brands like Resorts, Suites, Northwinds Hotel, and MTN House, we strive to provide unforgettable experiences for every traveler, whether they’re journeying with family, friends, or for business.

We hear you’re one of only a few female hoteliers in Canada; what are the challenges/benefits associated with that honour?

Initially, I faced skepticism and a lack of credibility in an industry traditionally dominated by men. Overcoming these early challenges required perseverance and a steadfast belief in my vision for Basecamp Resorts. In the real estate sector, particularly in the past, male-centric networks and activities were prevalent (Men’s golf tournaments or ski trips, etc.), which posed additional hurdles. However, these experiences fueled my commitment to fostering a more inclusive and cohesive environment within the industry. A benefit associated with that honor is being able to foster progress despite lingering stereotypes. I firmly believe women are the underdogs and that diversity and inclusion are essential for driving innovation and success in any field. We collectively need to challenge stereotypes and break barriers. I hope to pave the way for greater opportunities and representation for women in all industries, including hospitality and real estate.

How does Basecamp give back to its surrounding communities?

We are deeply committed to supporting causes that have a meaningful impact on our communities. We have pledged a significant donation of $100,000 over the next three years to the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Mobile Breast Cancer Screening program, a cause that holds personal significance for me. Additionally, we have partnered with One Tree Planted to contribute to reforestation efforts. Our commitment involves planting 250,000 trees across Alberta and British Columbia, with over 35,580 trees already planted. On a local level, we proudly sponsor sports teams like the Canmore Eagles and provide support to community hospitals in Canmore, Revelstoke and Golden. These efforts represent just a few examples of our dedication to making a positive impact on our communities. We are continually exploring new avenues for community involvement and are excited about the opportunities to further contribute to the well-being of those around us.

Tough question: either which hotel in your roster is your personal fave to stay at, or what are some unique features at various properties that surprise and delight guests?

My personal favorite property to stay at is Baker Creek by Basecamp! What sets it apart is its unique ability to truly feel like a getaway – private and secluded, with charming cabins and jacuzzi suites that offer a sense of tranquility. What surprises and delights guests at Baker Creek are its charming amenities. From private ice rinks in the winter to serene Creekside fire pits, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Also, each space is uniquely decorated offering its charm. Some cabins feature record players and classic board games, while all offer wood-burning fireplaces that create a cozy ambiance. And, in our Jacuzzi Suites, you’ll find the bathtub of your dreams!

What’s next for Basecamp?

There are lots of exciting plans in the works! We’re venturing into the Nordic Spa business with our first spa under construction at MTN House in Canmore, which promises to offer guests a rejuvenating and immersive experience in the heart of the Canadian Rockies – opening in 2025. We are opening doors to the brand new Basecamp Suites Revelstoke property this May. And we have new hotels in the works for Fernie and Golden. We’re always on the lookout for new opportunities to grow and innovate.


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