By Meghan Hall
Outdoor hospitality has taken off over the past few years as today’s consumers continue to seek exciting new experiences through travel and entertainment. One such firm, LOGE Camps, has seen incredible growth since its founding just last year at the beginning of 2017, and has acquired an additional $7.5 million in funding for further expansion. The Registry spoke with Johannes Ariens, co-founder and chief executive officer at LOGE Camps, to better understand the business model behind the company’s successes to date.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you crafted the idea of a boutique hotel chain that caters to the outdoor industry?
I am the CEO and Co-Founder of LOGE Camps. I have a professional background in design, construction and real estate development, as well as a toe in the ski business as a professional ski patroller of 15 years at Snoqualmie Pass. At LOGE, I focus on real estate, design, business development and growth. My business partner and LOGE Co-Founder, Cale Genenbacher, focuses more on sculpting what a day-to-day life at LOGE looks like, crafting a high-performance, sustainable culture we endeavor to maintain at LOGE to ensure that everyone who stays with us and works on our team is stoked day-in-day-out. We make an incredible team, both in business and on the mountain.
I am an avid climber, skier, mountain biker and developing surfer, as is Cale. Most everyone that works at LOGE is to one degree or another passionate about outdoor recreation and the importance of access as a driver for environmental stewardship. It is this passion that birthed the idea for LOGE Camps.
We all love getting out and enjoying the outdoors and saw the growing popularity of people flocking to outlandish mountain and ocean regions for outdoor recreation. However, we saw that there was little to no affordable, community-oriented lodging options once there. With that, we decided to focus on creating outdoor-centric lodging options in our favorite outdoor recreation locations across the United States.
LOGE now offers consumers the options to stay in individual rooms for privacy, hostel-style co-ed rooms to meet others alike, or camping spots with availability to bring your own RV or tent included with bathrooms, showers, outdoor kitchens and live music venues. LOGE’s current locations include Westport, Wash., Leavenworth, Wash., Snoqualmie Pass, Wash., Bend, Ore., with Mt. Shasta, Calif., Breckenridge, Colo., Estes Park, Colo. and Big Bear, Calif., opening mid 2019.
What qualities does LOGE look for when it looks to purchase a property for repositioning? Why has LOGE chosen the locations it has in Westport, Leavenworth, Snoqualmie Pass, Mt. Shasta and Bend?
When looking for physical properties, we look for places that represent some of our favorite attributes in people, the ones that make up our team and our core customer base. Places where we, as skiers, mountain bikers, hikers would want to stay. We are a resilient bunch that looks for and assumes the best in everything in everyone. We do our best to not judge on first impression and always feel no matter how old you are or what you look like you still have value to share. We like that we are all unique and sometimes even a bit quirky. When it comes to buildings, these are the types of places we look for. Buildings that have character, uniqueness, a history. We find them the easiest to coexist with; they are flexible and relaxed, as are the locations in which they are placed.
Why did you want LOGE to appeal to the average, everyday consumer? What kind of demographic is most likely to book a stay at one of LOGE’s locations?
LOGE brings the outdoor community a function-forward and modern design, tailoring its properties to foster the development of community and culture around shared passions for outdoor recreation and lifestyle. Three-quarters of consumers say they would like to increase their spending on experiences rather than physical things in the next year, pointing to a move away from materialism and a growing demand for real-life experiences, and LOGE is bringing the outdoor community just that.
We wanted to build a place for our friends that is more reminiscent of coming over to hang out after a fun day outside rather than that of staying at a hotel. The hotel market is a busy place that seems to be trending more and more toward luxury. Luxury is nice, but not inherently relaxing, not to mention the cost component. We feel that after a great day of getting after it, there is nothing better than relaxing with your friends.
The folks who agree with that are our demographic, all of them.
How do LOGE’s construction and business strategies allow it to create luxury outdoor accommodations for the mainstream consumer?
Great question, first off, we aren’t a luxury product. Our places are nice, clean, well-designed, amenity packed, community-oriented and above all, comfortable. I’ve never heard anyone describe a tuxedo as comfortable; there is a place for luxury but for us it’s more about throwing on a puffy and standing by the fire.
We are sort of like that kid whose friend taught him to ski by taking him to the top of the double black of the business world. It can be a challenging start, but you’ll be rippin’ just as hard as your crew in no time.
How does LOGE compare to other outdoor hospitality chains such as AutoCamp, based in California?
The AutoCamp crew is rad; they’ve truly been market leaders and have largely defined the luxury glamping and airstream space. It’s sweet to see them getting so many folks outside that might not have gone out otherwise.
With that said, that isn’t us. At LOGE, we are aggressively dedicated to being a price-obtainable, recreationally-driven, repetitive-use, community-oriented hospitality company. Our specialty is in revitalizing unique mid-century motor-ins into lively campuses where people can come together over art, food and shared passions. At LOGE we are “Transforming Environments & Building Communities.” Creating not just a place to stay the night, but a new community in each of the locations we expand to.
What separates LOGE from the competition in its services, locations and accommodations?
LOGECamps’ goal is to become the epicenter of the outdoor industry not only for the consumers, but also for the companies that exist to serve them, as well. We listen to our friends, our families and most importantly, our customers. LOGE Camps is growing solely at the request of the customer. We operate a detailed review program that allows guests to provide insight into what they want to see at each location, and where they want the brand to expand. The customers’ feedback has truly grown LOGE and held shape our recent expansion tremendously.
Our amenities at each location range from intelligently designed hostels, tuning areas for ski and bike equipment, exclusive evo demo and retail center, cafes, RV hookup sites, community outdoor kitchens, outdoor stage for live music, covered camping, and in-room ski and snowboard racks with boot dryers. The idealistic stay for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Additionally, in partnership with Artist Home, LOGE will be one of the first boutique, independent venue operators with locations nationwide, providing artists an opportunity for expanded exposure and the ability to tour comfortably between all LOGE locations. LOGE is also the first hotel to sponsor an athlete team, offer a season pass programand act as an independent music venue.
Overall, our focus is on our relationship with our customers: This drives it all. We aren’t concerned with competition in services or accommodation; we are focused on being where our customers are going. We want to have the amenities that they want, and we don’t want to have things there that are wasteful and are not used. We want to provide the right stay option for the full range of trips that we take and that our guests take; if we are traveling alone, then a hostel bunk works perfectly, in the van and on the road we just need a few nice amenities and are really tired of WalMart parking lots, and occasionally we love to get a room to chill and get a great night sleep (who doesn’t)? If we can continually do these things, then the competition takes care of itself.
What inspired LOGE to implement a season pass program for its Westport location? How have you found the program to be working so far?
Surrounded by our idea to foster a community and design a spot where local and travelers come to ‘hang out’ numerous times throughout the season, what better way to make this community a reality than offer a season pass program that allows our customers to do just that.
We are the first hotel brand to instill a season pass model, and that all stems from our ideas of season ski and surf passes. Going surfing and skiing 20+ times a year, having a season pass was ideal so you can constantly revisit your favorite spots. As LOGE became a favorite spot for many travelers and locals, we knew we had to create and offer a unique loyalty program that would make sense with our brand. Our guests, and friends, have loved it.
Will you expand this service to LOGE’s other locations?
If our customers want us to continue to expand the season pass program to different locations other than Westport, they will tell us. Our recent expansion also presents an exciting opportunity to grow the LOGE Season Pass Program more. It’s fun to go big, but also pretty important to not get too far out over your skis.
How was LOGE able to garner $7.5 million in funding to expand to new locations? Who primarily backed LOGE?
In addition to our new Advisory and Governing Board that includes Dan Nordstrom (CEO Emeritus, Outdoor Research), Steve Meineke (Operating Partner, Roundhouse Collective), Steve McCallion (VP of Product, Simple Bank), Bryce Phillips (CEO, evo gear), Jamie Ikerd (COO, M Street) and Jim Collis (Principal, ColFam), we continue to have an extensive roster of investors and team members. This includes individuals from Evo, Hydro Flask, Chrome, Keen, Diamond Back, Nuun, OR, Miir, Raleigh, Smith, Moment Lenses, The Seattle Bouldering Project, K2, POC, Booth Creek and Eddie Bauer.
We focus on people. We make sure everyone is having fun and pushing out of their comfort zones a bit. If we focus on taking care of our people, and our community, the details of our success, and funding, will come into place. We are very fortunate and do our best to work hard for our customers, team, investors and advisory board.
Where is LOGE seeking to expand? How do you think the business will grow in the coming years?
Right now, we are pretty focused on executing our current procurement set. We recently just announced new locations in Mt. Shasta, Breckenridge, Estes Park and Big Bear opening mid 2019. Having said that, we go where our guests want us to. We listen to where people are asking us to go next and want to see us become part of their community. With this in mind, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a number of locations coming up over the next year in the Rocky Mountains West and possibly moving east.