LOGE appeals to the nature-focused guest

NORTH BEND, WA—LOGE, the lifestyle hotel group that brings forgotten motels near towns and trails back to life, is well-positioned to appeal to guests at a time when most are looking for travel that embraces nature. So named for its “Live Outside, Go Explore” ethos, LOGE has introduced a number of measures that promote the safety and social distancing of travelers while immersing them in the locale. The company is also set to open its sixth property this fall.

“We focus on a really specific customer set: an active outdoor lifestyle customer, primarily targeted toward second markets,” explained Johannes Ariens, CEO/co-founder of LOGE.

Instead of setting down roots in Aspen or Vail, CO, LOGE finds opportunities in markets like Breckenridge, CO.

“These are places where we see the consumer actually spending most of their time,” Ariens said. “Most people go to Aspen once every one or two years to ski, versus the place that is drivable, three to four hours from their home, which they’re going to five, 10, 15 times a year. That’s really where we focus.”

With properties in Bend, OR; Westport, WA; Leavenworth, WA; Mt. Shasta, CA; and Breckenridge, LOGE finds dilapidated motels in the right markets and repositions them to be an outdoor-adventure-focused experience. Guests can choose from hotel rooms to hostel bunks and campsites.

LOGE aims to fill the gap between branded and Airbnb. “In its early days, Airbnb was very individual, but that has kind of changed over time; we see ourselves filling that customer demand—super individual, intimate, live like a local,” he said, adding that LOGE aims to marry that with what guests get from brands: a dependable product.

With the goal to be in markets that are drivable and near nature, the properties are well-positioned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t think anyone saw COVID-19 coming, but it does speak very much to our model,” Ariens said. “Most of our customers are not flying across the country. They’re driving to our locations directly from their primary household. That is really important because flight travel is down drastically. However, individuals’ urge to get out of the house and do that in a way where they can really control that experience and their exposure is important for consumers.”

LOGE properties are exterior corridor and are fully automated with keypad entry, so there’s no reason to go to the lobby or a front desk. Guests can communicate with staff via SMS, purchases can be added to the room bill without a formal physical transaction and housekeeping uses a digital checklist that reflects a COVID-19-specific protocol.

“Every room has an independent mechanical system—the exhaust to the outside—so you’re not sharing systems or interior corridors, and during the time of your stay, our employees will not be entering the room,” Ariens said. “Instead, we’re providing cleaning kits so you can refresh your room at your leisure, but without threatening your sense of place and privacy.”

In response to COVID-19, the company implemented its Go Together Code, a series of protocols. In addition to contactless check-in, deep-cleaning rooms and DIY housekeeping kits, LOGE redesigned outdoor spaces to be suitable for appropriate physical distancing, rearranged its facilities and has a mask policy for all staff and vendors. All crew members also have a stringent pre-shift physical and mental health checklist.

Ariens said LOGE came up with the code by focusing on the local community. “Ultimately, we take a pretty small-business approach to each location,” he said. “How do we keep our local community safe? Each of our local communities that we’re in have their own mandates they’re currently allowing, so we started with that. From there, it was a process of working back to informing our customer.”

To do so, LOGE has introduced a guide. “We call them the Go Together guides,” Ariens said. “They take all of those guidelines that have been issued by town, state and local officials, and put them into a really palatable format that our customers can access. We’ve created location-specific guides for our customers to help them understand how to go walk on a trail, what trails may be open, what current F&B options exist and how you interact with those, and then we also provided to our customers—and to anyone who sees them on our website—our crew and vendor guidelines, so they can understand what they can expect from our crew when they show up, and making it really clear that the option for them as customers is really in their hands to decide how much interaction they’re comfortable with.”

LOGE has also engaged new F&B partnerships. It’s stocking its cafés and retail areas with offerings from Patagonia Provisions; has teamed up with Hopworks Urban Brewery; and Shar Snacks trail mix will now be available to guests. Through the launch of a partnership with Traeger Grills, LOGE properties offer wood fire grills. Complementary Traeger pellets are on hand at each location.

“We really focused on how to enhance the customer experience without needing to encumber personal space,” Ariens said. “For instance, our Traeger partnership [offers] a completely customer-driven experience. We’re providing the pellets and grills in our outdoor kitchens, but you would bring your own food and be able to engage in that in a way that is for you.”

Other LOGE partnerships include Fox Racing, a leader in mountain bike apparel and protection technology, and Artist Home, which helps LOGE curate its lineup of outdoor performances. In-room and on-site amenities include Rumpl, a blanket designed for indoor and outdoor use; BioLite Headlamps; adventure-grade hammocks by Kammok; Miir mugs; and Cloud Paper, 100% bamboo toilet paper.

“All of our partnerships are built around the idea of experiential activation,” Ariens said. “It’s not something you’re buying; it’s activated on property in a unique way to allow for you to be able to engage with those brands and products as a customer without actually having to experience a shared space.”

Ariens noted that the brand is looking to grow more, opening its second Leavenworth location—and sixth overall for the company—in November. The newly renovated LOGE Leavenworth Downtown will feature 26 guestrooms and suites; a bar/café called The Iconoclast and a beer garden serving local draughts, as well as outdoor patios and ample workspace. Additionally, the property will include a 1,600-sq.-ft. multi-use meeting space.

In addition to this opening, Ariens said, “We also have projects we’re working on in the Rocky Mountain West area in addition to Breckenridge, as well as the Southeast and California.”

He noted, “One of the bigger things we look for in a site is what we would define as elbow room. When we think about the COVID-19 pandemic, that inadvertently becomes more relevant, but more generally, we like to find sites that have the opportunity to be activated in an exterior format. Everyone uses the outdoor space.”

While the outdoor kitchens can help guests social distance now, they can also bring people together. “One of the things we love so much about what we do is this idea of the outdoor kitchens and what cooking and food does to bring people together as a way to create meaningful interactions,” he said. “We often say it’s all but impossible to stand in the same general vicinity as someone barbecuing and not strike up a conversation. And that’s what we want to create: opportunities for that to happen.”

Additionally, he said, “Our music program is significant and a big part of what we do with our brand, and so we need spaces to build those stages for our artists to perform, as well as space for an outdoor kitchen. Those are often offered to us in the asset class we tend to look at because generally speaking the way to achieve density on those sites is by going out, and that creates more open green space you can look within to find those unique pockets for activation opportunities.” HB