Sunday, April 08, 2007

My own hotel chain of "haven" lodges?

I was thinking a bit more about retirement planning and in particular what form of housing would make sense for me. I truly do not need or want a full house or even much of a condo or even a multi-bedroom apartment. In fact, a studio apartment is more than enough for my tastes.

That got me thinking back to an idea I had a number of years ago for a nationwide chain of hotel lodges. I originally got the idea while visiting Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach on the coast of Oregon. I thought it would be really cool to have a moderately big hotel-like lodge that offered comfortable rooms and scenic public spaces. Not a big, bland chain like Marriott, but with impressive public spaces as the first priority, coupled with very comfortable rooms. The idea is not to put all of the effort into the rooms themselves, but to go overboard on the public spaces so that each guest can find a nook somewhere where they can feel like they have a little semi-privacy without being completely off on your own. You should be able to find a quite corner and sit down or lie down on a sofa and take a nap. Each lodge would  have a wide range of rooms, all the way from high-end suites, down to rather small rooms or even Japanese-style sleeping chambers that emphasize spending more time in the public spaces than in individual rooms. One idea is that the savings from smaller guest rooms can be leveraged to provide much higher value in the public spaces for an overall lower per-night cost than a major hotel such as Hyatt or Westin.

Some of my lodges would be in semi-remote locations like Cannon Beach or Lake Tahoe or Jackson Hole, but some would be right in major cities with an emphasis on providing havens within the hustle and bustle of urban settings. In fact, the design should be such that people living in the city might simply stay at their local lodge to "get away from it all." I can envision having a dozen in Manhattan alone.

The DisneyWorld Wildeness Lodge conveys at least a slight sense of what one of my lodges might be like, but is still on too large an industrial scale to give the feel of a "haven" from the world. Although I imagine that some of my lodges would have this "rustic" feel, I also imagine that some might be the opposite and have a 'futuristic" feel. And, the focus would be on a vast maze of public spaces that people could lose themselves in, rather than expecting that people would retreat to their rooms. My lodge and the average room would be significantly smaller than the Disney Lodge, but there would be much more in the way of public spaces. As an example, bunk beds or a loft bed would dramatically decrease the floor space needed to accommodate a given number of guests.

I also imagine a variant of time-share where you could buy anywhere from one week to the full year and use that "pass" at any of the lodges. Thinking ahead here, I personally would have a 46-week pass that would let me live in my lodges all year except for six weeks of travel to places that didn't yet have my lodges.

A more recent twist to my lodge idea is to offer nutrition services so that someone could check in for a few days to focus on improving their nutritional habits. That would include counseling, group discussions, cooking lessons, and dining itself.

Anyway, my ideal retirement living arrangement would be to own this chain of lodges and simply spend my time traveling between them. I personally do not need a lot of personal junk in my living space, so spending every night in a different room would be fine for me.

Is this a crazy idea? Yeah, sure it is. On the other hand, crazier ideas have worked out.

I don't intend to seriously pursue this idea, but on the other hand it is a great "thought project" to occupy my idle moments.

Who knows, maybe someday I'll meet someone who has expertise in the hotel business and can actually work with me to turn this idea into a reality. You never know.

So, I've gone from not wanting a house to retire to, but wanting a nationwide lodging chain. Sometimes, this is the way things work out.

Did I say nationwide? Why limit it? It seems like the concept would apply globally. Not that I would need to own the entire worldwide chain, since a quality standard-oriented franchise concept such as McDonalds would permit travelers to get the same level of quality around the world.

Or maybe, I'll just end up working part-time in hotels to pay for my retirement. As I said, you never know.

-- Jack Krupansky

1 Comments:

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