Over the past few years in particular, hotels and other hospitality outlets have ramped up their hands-on approach to pleasing guests with unique amenities, creature comforts and a sense of participating in a lifestyle. With the hospitality group LOGE (which stands for live outside, go explore), lifestyle is the goal but all five pared-back properties are built around the understanding that the US has stunning outdoor destinations that people want to enjoy easily. Since 2016, LOGE has acquired motels, hostels, lodges and campsites in close proximity to natural wonders and they’ve been enhancing the community aspects and outdoor areas of each, while bringing a minimal design edge to the overall experience (and providing appropriate gear rental). For the dedicated adventurer, the road trip traveler or even the casual surfer/hiker/climber, each of the LOGE properties respect that you do not intend to spend that much time indoors.
LOGE CEO and co-founder Johannes Ariens grew up in the wilds of Washington’s lush Olympic Peninsula. His childhood was spent driving up and down the 101 with his family—often enjoying the outdoors. An avid outdoorsmen, Ariens would first climb at Smith Rock, right near Bend, Oregon—where he established a LOGE property. In fact, the LOGE properties were first scouted around the idea of driving from his home in Seattle to pursue outdoor activities.
“I think that the progressions of where our locations landed was akin to that,” he tells us. “In these secondary markets, there isn’t really a place for people to come together in a way that’s priced for frequency—for those who want to be able to use the property only to get back outdoors again and again. That’s how the first property came to be—Westport, I was driving there 15 to 20 times a year from Seattle.” This coastal property caters not only to surfers and kayakers, but all who cherish time in fresh air.
“There aren’t many companies that serve as well-priced lifestyle brands in these areas,” Ariens continues. “Many think of themselves more as luxury or mid-market lodging. How can they be a lifestyle brand when they have a consumer class changing their spending habits to fit into their experiences? We are going for frequency and building an ongoing relationship. We want to be affordable and accessible to a lot of people.”
He adds, “The markets we go into, we have to completely change how we address operations and dive into what consumers perception of value is.” He notes that travelers going on a mountain biking trip don’t necessarily want to stay in a place with a spa—which, for a hotel, is an amenity that leads only to partial revenue and high operating costs that often have to be supplemented from revenue elsewhere. LOGE caters to the traveler who just wants to go mountain biking.
“I’d rather take one or two more trips than have that spa option,” he says of his own travel desires. He isn’t alone. Though he adds, “I do want to have a place on the property that’s fun to hang out. So we realized we could put a fire pit out there and it can be nice and social, but it does not need to be luxury. It can be a place where people come together and eat and drink.”
The second LOGE property to be developed sits in Leavenworth, Washington—roughly two hours east of Seattle, in the central Cascade Mountains. It’s an enchanted destination, centered around rock climbing. “I was doing 10 to 20 trips a year there and would generally sleep in the back of my truck,” Ariens says. What he felt it lacked was a social setting. “At the end of each trip, I would go out to a restaurant but there was no central place to share stories and find other solo travelers to recreate with. I wanted to find my people. I was looking for familiarity.”
Bend was the third LOGE location. “It just makes sense,” Ariens says. “It’s an all-around recreation location, but it has not blown up into a resort town. We then started working our way south for the fourth property, Mt Shasta, an oddball kind of unique place that is, to a certain degree, a misunderstood gem. It’s one of the energy centers in the US, like Sedona. There’s a lot of spiritual tourism. It’s breathtaking.” All of these factors—as well as its remote but affordable identity and rugged terrain, populated with waterfalls and natural springs—led to interest.
Finally, LOGE opened in Breckinridge. Getting to Colorado was a big deal for the small team—and they intend to pursue more locations there, as well as in California, though Ariens admits they’ve already grown quickly. “Five locations from zero in a few years is really intense. With Covid-19 we are stabilizing the company in a significant manner—from a fully remote check-in and attention to all exterior corridors.” But he admits that, with their focus on the outdoors, they “couldn’t be better positioned to help travelers through this.”
Though each destination is so different, the LOGE team does infuse all of their properties with the same sense of familiarity, altogether making them places travelers do want to return, even if only for a brief night of rest.
Images courtesy of LOGE