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Family creates ‘Shuswap Shire’ as unique fantasy getaway

Magna Bay home comes together through mix of inspiration and imagination

It is not a nasty, dirty wet hole filled with the ends of worms…, but a labour of love created for a comfortable stay.

On a property they own in Magna Bay, in the North Shuswap, the van’t Kruis family has made their love for literary works of J.R.R. Tolkien (and films based on said works) into a reality they call the “Shuswap Shire.” This is where they have constructed a Hobbit inspired yet human-sized berm home, complete with rounded archways within and a round doorway at the front. They call it “Honey Hollow,” and while there may not be a sign on its walls welcoming “party business,” the home is a business of sorts, available to rent through airbnb.

Open for just under a year, guests have called Honey Hollow a “magical place.” One commented how it felt as though they’d stepped into Hobbiton.

Residents of Adams Lake, Damion van’t Kruis said he and his family have had a number of short-term rentals, and that it has been a great experience. For their Magna Bay property though, they wanted to do something special, something unique that brings joy to people. That’s how they came up with the idea to build Honey Hollow.

“We wanted it to feel authentic, we wanted it to not be too commercial, so being fans of the Lord of the Rings we talked about what we’d like to see in the property and how we could achieve that,” said van’t Kruis. “My oldest son Daz (Dazmond) and myself built pretty much everything you see. Obviously we had contractors help us with things like plumbing and electrical. Outside of that, everything else we built ourselves.”

Read more: Hobbiton in the Okanagan: Spend the night in the Halfling Hideaway

Read more: Hobbit house display created for Earth Day by Lower Mainland educational assistant

The structure itself took about six months to build. Damion expects the landscaping will be an ongoing project.

“I’m not entirely sure why we chose to build a berm house when none of us really have a green thumb; that was an oversight,” laughed Damion. “We’re learning as we go with regards to keeping grass alive and really working towards bettering our inner horticulturalists.”

For the van’t Kruis family, highlights of the home include the brick work “giving a rustic, authentic feel,” and the rounded hallways. A favourite for guests has been the claw-foot bathtub.

Much time and effort also went into the fine details of the house, including a skeleton-key operated lock in the front door.

“Some of the pieces, it definitely took us quite a bit of time to do the research and find out what we really wanted to have in there,” said Damion. “I think a big part of it, we really took advantage of all the local thrift stores and antique shops to try and find more authentic and unique items.”

Damion said he went through the Columbia Shuswap Regional District to acquire the proper permits to operate a short-term rental in Magna Bay, and that his family has received great support from the community.

“I think for us, we really enjoyed the aspect of creating something that we felt the magic in – because a condo is a condo, and we’ve worked with properties like that where you’re renting a place to stay,” said Damion. “We really wanted to create a destination, we wanted to have a property where they weren’t just coming because it’s the Shuswap, they’re coming because it’s a cool and unique fun thing to do.”

Damion hopes to expand his Shuswap Shire by adding a second residence.

So long as it doesn’t interfere with his guests’ experience, Damion is open to showing people Honey Hollow. They just need to contact him in advance to make arrangements.

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Built by the van’t Kruis family, the Shuswap Shire is a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit inspired fantasy vacation rental located in Magna Bay in the North Shuswap. (Photo contributed)
Built by the van’t Kruis family, the Shuswap Shire is a Lord of the Rings/Hobbit inspired fantasy vacation rental located in Magna Bay in the North Shuswap. (Photo contributed)

Lachlan Labere

About the Author: Lachlan Labere

Editor, Salmon Arm Observer
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