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Developers shore up plans for Skaha Lake resort
A proposed new beach resort in Penticton has one businessman looking to offer tourists a new experience.
“We feel this is the most beautiful place on earth and we want people to come and enjoy it and share it with us,” said Max Picton, who came up with the concept of Barefoot Beach Resort that will feature 11 rental yurts across from Skaha Lake when the first phase is complete in May. “As soon as you have stepped inside a yurt you will never forget it. It is such a unique experience. You can have a large span over the roof with no trusses or supporting beams and it provides this amazing open-air feeling. Partner that with beautiful landscaped grounds, nice paths and a price point similar to other accommodators in town ... really you are going to look at it and say why wouldn’t we go to Barefoot Beach Resort?”
Barefoot Beach Resort will feature nightly/weekly rentals in units known as yurts. The yurt is a bent wood-framed structure mounted on a wooden deck floor and will have electricity, small kitchens and washrooms in each unit. Having lived in a yurt while working on Vancouver Island, Picton said he was blown away by the experience. Since he returned to Penticton he has been trying to find a piece of property that would fit his concept. He, along with his business partner Ben Lindsay and another investor, found it on the Penticton Indian Reserve. The locatee owners agreed to lease Barefoot the land, situated north of the highway across from Wright’s Beach Campground, and cleanup started soon after.
“I’m in this as a businessman to try and profit off the endeavor, but at the same time I also want to accomplish something positive for Penticton in general. I’m a pretty sound supporter of the city as a whole and I want to see people coming here and having things to enjoy. This being one of the very first pieces of property that you see when you drive into town, I think it is very important for the city to have that being an attractive piece of property,” said Picton. “The Penticton Indian Band family we are working with are extremely happy seeing the cleanup. For them it is also really important to have a beautiful piece of property that they can be proud of and that is what we are striving to give them.”
Picton said a walkway under the highway will bring people from the resort across the road to Skaha Beach. On the beach, they are looking at different concepts including watercraft rentals, beach concessions, food carts and small retail shops similar to those seen on Okanagan Beach. A public parking lot is also proposed on the north side of the highway to keep the beach accessible to the public.
“We had a bunch of people worried because they saw us putting up a fence there around the tunnel for access to the beach, but we just want to be able to have the ability to shut people out if they think they can just come out there to party. Our intention is to have it fully opened to the public at all times so they can come down and enjoy the beach and support the businesses we will be providing on the beachfront,” said Picton.
Besides the 11 rental yurts available by May, there will be 125 camping spaces for tents. Picton said those will eventually be consumed as they continue to build each phase for the yurts. He expects the yurts to arrive this week and for the public to see construction in a few weeks once the last infrastructure goes into the ground. Barefoot Beach Resort hopes to partner with the festivals in the city and expects the demographics of their clientele will likely follow those events.
Picton’s vision also includes retail operations that would be sublet out by Barefoot Beach Resort. He cited the example of an ice cream shop that could be run by Tickleberry’s or Ogo’s. The actual resort operations would have about 10 employees running it.
“With all the other opportunities for business fronts, I could see staff being at around 50 people between all the businesses when it is all said and done with the sublets. It will come down to how many businesses we can get interested in the property. We are targeting a bunch of local businesses that we think are outstanding and would like to pursue a partnership with and have them on the property. But if anyone can see themselves in a storefront on the resort, they can certainly contact us. We would be interested in talking and meeting with them,” said Picton.