Sky McLean is changing the face of the hospitality industry as the founder and CEO of Western Canada’s fastest-growing hospitality brand, Basecamp Resorts. After receiving her MBA in real estate from the Schulich School of Business at York University, McLean moved to Calgary where she gained an interest in the Airbnb business model. In 2017, at the age of 33, McLean opened the doors to Basecamp Resorts Canmore, a modern boutique hotel with 32 apartment-style suites that provides guests with the comfort of Airbnb but the amenities of a hotel. Soon after, McLean launched the Basecamp Resorts brand.
The company debuted on Hotelier’s Top 35 Report with gross sales of $10 million in 2021. Currently, McLean and her team run eight properties, with plans to open four more locations over the next few years. Properties currently open include Basecamp Resorts Canmore, Basecamp Suites Canmore, Basecamp Lodge Canmore, Basecamp Resorts Revelstoke in B.C., Basecamp Lodge Golden in B.C., Lamphouse Hotel Canmore, Northwinds Hotel by Basecamp in Canmore and Baker Creek by Basecamp in Lake Louise, Alta. The brand’s newest hotels include Basecamp Suites Banff, which opens this month [September]; Basecamp Suites Revelstoke in B.C., which is slated to open in December 2023; Basecamp Resorts Golden, which is slated to open December 2024; and Basecamp Resorts Fernie, which is also slated to open December 2024. Many properties are BUILT GREEN to reduce their environmental impact and feature pet-friendly units, premium bedding, fully equipped kitchens and outdoor hot tubs. Guests also have access to various outdoor activities, including skiing, snowboarding, skating, hiking trails and more.
Over the years, McLean says she has enjoyed forming business relationships the most. Additionally, the company raises money at least once a year for the Canmore hospital, as well as other local charities.
“I’ve enjoyed my experience with people. Most importantly, I’ve enjoyed building a team that’s equally passionate about the brand and its growth. We’ve been able to create jobs and give back to the community. We have built, and continue to build, a lot of great [relationships within the] community that go beyond just the accommodation.”
She admits being a hospitality CEO comes with challenges. “Running a business and [being a mom and wife is a juggling act]. There’s more responsibility at home and keeping the business going poses a significant, but also very rewarding, challenge.”
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic posed the biggest threat, placing extraordinary demand on business leaders, but McLean says she has come out better on the other side.
“In March 2020, we laid off about 45 staff. There were only five of us running around trying to do everything to just keep the lights on, literally. Luckily, we were able to bring everybody back and then some. Now we’re at about 120 staff. It’s all really promising for the first time in two years and I’m really happy about that.”
As one of the few female CEOs in the industry, McLean offers a short and punchy piece of advice for women looking to obtain managerial positions: “Don’t let what anyone says or thinks have any bearing on a decision that you feel is right.”
By Nicole Di Tomasso