A Members-Only Club Wants to Be the Soho House for Snow Bunnies

(Bloomberg Businessweek) — Walk into the lobby of Breck Haus, a seven-month-old hotel and membership club in Breckenridge, Colo., and it can feel at first like a nature lover’s Soho House.

But instead of fashion-conscious creative types, fresh-eyed, fit thirtysomethings and fortysomethings dressed head-to-toe in Gore-Tex sip craft beers by the fireplace, with Aussie shepherds curled at their feet. The velvet midcentury modern couches and benches made from fur-covered lift seats are filled with just as many locals as out-of-towners.

When I went in February, its first month of operation, the crowd included plenty of skiers heading out to score first tracks. By early September, it had shifted to remote workers hunkered down at Unravel, a buzzy coffee shop anchored by a Bellwether zero-emissions roaster. The weekly events calendar, naturally Covid-19-safe, touted complimentary guided hikes up Grays Peak and free workshops on compass reading, not airy artist talks and gut-thumping DJ sets.

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Our flagship haus, your second home ⁠ ⁠ Our members are entrepreneurs, athletes, and families. Trail blazers, weekend warriors, thrill seekers, and⁠ four-legged friends. Our community is an inclusive group of those that have a gusto for life and the great outdoors.⁠ ⁠ Become a Gravity Haus member before August 31, 2020 and receive up to 2 complimentary nights in Breckenridge or Vail!⁠ ⁠ #GravityHaus #OutdoorCommunity

A post shared by Gravity Haus (@gravityhaus) on Aug 20, 2020 at 1:30pm PDT

If Soho House was intended as a gathering place for urban busybodies, then Gravity Haus Inc., Breck Haus’s parent brand, aims to be a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts. A co-working space called StarterHaus allows the work-hard, play-hard crowd to bounce seamlessly between conference calls and trail runs, and Dryland Fitness & Spa offers a state‑of-the-art gym and Japanese-inspired hot tubs. The on-site hotel has 60 simple rooms, plus an expansive locker room for gear storage and a Super Tramp rig for practicing snowboard moves.

The concept is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Jim Deters, and it brings several of his existing ventures—the co-working facility, the gym, a mountain-guiding company—under a single roof. He sees the brand as being eco-conscious, adventure-driven, and democratic, rather than exclusive.

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Community & Conversations. Every Friday after class at @dryland_breck, our members join each other for a “happy hour” downstairs at @unravelcoffeeco for a cuppa and breakfast. Get in on the @gravityhaus community, meet new people and share new experiences with us!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #GravityHaus #Community

A post shared by Gravity Haus (@gravityhaus) on Sep 28, 2020 at 7:10am PDT

An entry-level membership to Gravity Haus costs just $40 a month, with a 12-month minimum, and offers application-free access to the club and the ability to book classes and rent gear. Big-city equivalents such as the Battery in San Francisco or the Fitler Club in Philadelphia require initiation fees of about $5,000 and can cost $600 a month for those whose social clout makes the cut.

Until recently, the brand’s most popular membership, the Weekender, had cost $60 a month, including four gym classes, four events, and four nights of deeply discounted hotel stays every 30 days. Add-ons such as the Haus Quiver, which offers unlimited demo rentals of high-end ski equipment across 12 U.S. Epic Pass locations, run $25 per month. Members from other states can use the benefit at, say, Vermont’s Stowe resort, where demos cost as much as $60 a day.

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Got gear? We have lockers! With less than 60 days until the season starts @breckenridgemtn, we’re gearing up to make each day at the Haus a seamless experience to store your gear between runs while you get your work on at StarterHaus, refuel at Cabin Juice or spend some time recovering at Breck Haus’ Japanese-inspired onsen.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Gravity Haus Members receive 50% off lockers – message us to learn more! ⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ #GravityHaus #Breckenridge

A post shared by Gravity Haus (@gravityhaus) on Sep 15, 2020 at 5:46pm PDT

Low prices are what make it work. They create value for those who may visit only sparingly, and keep the club accessible to locals who may have to juggle multiple jobs to afford their mountain-resort rent. In a locale where the only interactions residents have with tourists are as bartender, ski guide, or valet, a culture of commingling is a win-win.

The downside to democratization, however, is overcrowding. Gravity Haus currently counts about 500 members, with 20 joining each week—mostly Colorado residents and people with second homes there. Group workouts, limited in size because of Covid-19, fill up a week in advance. And with a slopeside location at the base of Peak 9, Breck Haus’s hotel rooms—starting at $135—are already hard to book. It’s naive to think people will naturally spread out according to different interests, whether weekend trips, co-working, or the gym.

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Tonight’s cozy vibes brought to you by @cabinjuice. Our in-haus restaurant in Breckenridge welcomes diners for breakfast, lunch, dinner and now weekend brunch! And if we’re being honest, we’re counting down the days till peak après season when @breckenridgemtn opens on November 13!⁠ ⁠ #Après #Cozy #GravityHaus⁠ ⁠ : @explorewithollie

A post shared by Gravity Haus (@gravityhaus) on Oct 5, 2020 at 6:44pm PDT

Building out an all-seasons offering could potentially disperse the masses beyond the busy winter period. A 2019 study conducted by market-research consultants Longwoods International showed that summer has consistently been the peak season for vacationers in Colorado. The pandemic, meanwhile, has lured former vacationers to take up permanent residence.

Rising costs, too, might thin the herd: Gravity Haus raised the price of the Weekender package to $80 on Oct. 1. “A steady increase in membership fees will likely take place on an annual or a biannual basis, based on demand or an increase in member benefits,” Deters says.

The addition of properties would pose a further potential reason to raise prices, he says. Sure enough, five locations are in the works, including Vail, in December, and Winter Park, next year. The other three, some international, will be operating by 2024. Balancing the scales of profitability and pragmatism will be Gravity Haus’s long-term challenge. Getting it right may be as tricky—and satisfying—as a devilish double black.

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