Last November, on a press trip to Salt Lake City with sport eyewear brand 100%, accommodations were provided at the Evo Hotel. I had Googled the hotel prior to arrival, and was intrigued to discover it was connected to Evo.com, one of the biggest outdoor sports online retailers.
The hotel was located in The Granary District, one of Salt Lake City’s oldest industrial areas, which has recently undergone a resurgence to become a hip new section of town. There was a bouldering gym and skate park in the hotel, right off the reception area, as well as a spacious physical Evo store with a curated selection of ski, snowboard, climbing, and other outdoor sports gear and apparel — along with a large rental and demo section.
We did a story a few months ago about Auto Camp, a new hotel company redefining outdoor lodging by bringing uniquely modern accommodations like Airstream suites and luxury tents to some of America’s most scenic destinations: Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Moab, Utah, among others. This new genre of boutique hotels caters specifically to outdoor sports enthusiasts — people of all ages and demographics — connected by their shared passion. Other properties like Gravity Haus in Colorado and Loge Camps on the West Coast reflect this growing trend.
Add to that Field & Stream Lodge Co., a recently announced new hotel chain from Starwood Hotels, known for sleek, design-oriented brands like W Hotels and the Baccarat Hotel. Field & Stream Lodge Co. seeks to celebrate the great outdoors with modern and affordable lifestyle lodging in natural settings, and capitalize on the booming outdoor recreation industry which continues to thrive as a result of pandemic-driven consumer lifestyle changes.
The evo Hotel picks up where Autocamp leaves off with a huge retail component. “We meet customers where they play”, says Tommy Trause, Head of New Locations Development and Hospitality at evo, “and make it accessible by giving them an on ramp”. With its first location in Salt Lake City, surrounded by numerous ski and snowboard resorts, and another opening soon in Lake Tahoe, what better accommodations to bring together like-minded sports enthusiasts — and what better context to sell merchandise for these sports. The evo has all the gear and apparel you need, along with the experiential component, arranging excursions to the mountain resorts if desired.
The evo Hotel Salt Lake City has partnered with other local sport retailers and facilities for additional sport amenities. The& 26,000-square-foot indoor bouldering gym is operated by Bouldering Project Salt Lake, for example, which in addition to world-class climbing walls, has a yoga and fitness studio. There is another sporting goods shop, Level Nine, at the hotel as well. These offerings might change at different evo Hotel locations to reflect the local recreation and commerce of the area, such as maybe a wave pool.
TOP ROW: EVO HOTEL; MIDDLE: AUTO CAMP; BOTTOM: AUTOCAMP, EVO HOTEL
evo has also factored in other elements of outdoor sports lifestyle that include art, culture, and music, showcasing local talent in the hotel. The 50 rooms at the evo Hotel in Salt Lake City are unique in their design as well, offering an industrial meets lodge feel with accommodations for individuals, families, and groups. With a full day and night’s worth of activities, it’s almost a modern-day, cooler Club Med.
Seeing this evo-lution in outdoor sports hospitality, one can only think REI is also planning how to get in the game.