‘Escape Manor’ Launches Multi-Location Expansion [Photos]

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Ottawa-based entertainment-based concept ‘Escape Manor’ plans to operate 21 locations globally by the year 2021, up from its current nine locations (eight of which are in Canada). Last month, Escape Manor opened its impressive three-level flagship space in downtown Toronto that is proving popular with corporate team-building groups, and the concept could be a way for landlords to drive traffic to nearby retail and other commercial uses.

Corporate groups are already utilizing the new Toronto space with its escape game activities that are conducive to team building. Concepts such as Escape Manor can also drive traffic to nearby businesses as well, given their popularity.

The new Toronto location, located appropriately in the city’s Entertainment District at 383 King Street West, spans three floors in a retail space that formerly housed Camper’s Village. Escape Manor was founded by Billy Rogers, Chris Bisson, Neil Schwartz and Steve Wilson, all passionate hospitality and entertainment professionals who utilized their diverse backgrounds to create the interactive facility.

Guests enter the building from a King Street-facing entrance into ‘The Lounge’, which is an interactive licensed space featuring custom cocktails, wine, local craft beer and a variety of food options. The Lounge includes several activities such as brain teasers, a sensory experience involving blindfolds, and even handcuffs in an attractive wood-paneled space with unique furniture, some of which has the look of being antique.

The second floor features a fully-attended axe throwing area where visitors can learn the craft. Corporate as well as social groups have been booking the space, which offers both one and two-hour time slots where a group of six or 12 can compete.

On the building’s lower level, there are four escape rooms where groups can try to beat the clock to get out in order to avoid a ‘twisted fate’. These rooms include ‘The Asylum’, ‘Bad Blood: Death Row’, ‘Wine Cellar’ and ‘Devil’s Advocate’, each with their own storylines where participants are kept on their toes in a constant state of suspense.

A fifth room is in the works, according to the company, with details to be provided.

Groups as large as 32 people can be accommodated in the four escape rooms, and as many as 48 can participate in the eight lanes for ax throwing. Combined with additional entertainment in the games lounge, Escape Manor can entertain groups of up to 200 people concurrently.

Escape Manor also recently saw a boost from a unique partnership — CityTV’s original series ‘Bad Blood’, a mob-based TV series, is a narrative in the ‘Death Row’ escape room which includes a celebrity introduction by the series star and Canada’s own Kim Coates.

During a recent visit to the Escape Room in Toronto, several corporate groups were participating in activities and appeared to be enjoying themselves tremendously. Steve Wilson, Partner and Vice President of Marketing, explained how the Escape Room promotes teamwork and engagement, which makes it perfect for corporate team building workshops and festive events. Companies like escape room experiences because the varied activities involve working towards a common goal, resolving conflicts under pressure and promoting positive relationships.

Mr. Wilson said that the company plans on operating 21 Escape Manor locations globally by the year 2021, with several more expected for Canada. Locations are ideally in the 5,000 square foot to 15,000 square foot range, noting that the new Toronto King Street location is currently the company’s largest. Finding space at a reasonable cost is key to the expansion, he said.

Escape room concepts such as Escape Manor can be a traffic draw that may also create exposure for nearby businesses. Shopping Centre landlords, for example, are looking to add attractions that can help drive foot traffic to other retailers, at a time when large anchor spaces have been made available with the closure of stores such as Target, Future Shop and Sears. As time goes on, there is a continued blurring between traditional retail and entertainment concepts as consumers seek out experiences and landlords and retailers seek to differentiate themselves from online offerings.

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Located in Toronto, Craig is the Publisher & CEO of Retail Insider Media Ltd. He is also a retail analyst and consultant, Advisor at the University of Alberta School Centre for Cities and Communities in Edmonton, former lawyer and a public speaker. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for over 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees.

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