Skiers and snowboarders weary of getting wacked by high-priced accommodations after a bruising day on the slopes can now slip into a far cheaper pod hotel with rooms scarcely big enough to fit a bed.
As ski resorts move upscale, Japanese-style pods are sprouting, offering a boutique vibe that includes high-thread count linens and creative design aesthetics, all for far less than traditional slopeside hotels, the Wall Street Journal reported. The down side: They share common lounging areas and bathrooms – not ideal traits in the Covid era.
South African Russell Kling and his Serbian wife, Jelena, hatched the idea for a pod in Whistler, the Canadian ski resort, after living in Manhattan for a decade and then quitting their jobs to take three years off. Their travels led them to discover a big gap in the type of lodging available in popular destinations.
“Our options were often over $500 a night, or some rat-infested place miles out of town,” Russell Kling said. “We realized there is a product that has gone missing from the market.”
The result: The Pangea Pod Hotel, which opened in 2018 at Whistler Blackcomb, a few hours north of Vancouver. The price: $31 to $156 a night, depending on the season.
The hotel is 600 feet from ski lifts, and offers eight suites containing from six to 18 pods each – 88 in all – with shared bathrooms. Each rectangular space is about 7 feet by 6 feet, can be closed off and has a double bed, charging outlets, shelves and some small storage spaces.
Another pod hotel is the Cache House in downtown Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Opened in early 2020, it has 50 pods with queen beds, with shared bathrooms. Prices range from $59 to $149 per night.
Designer touches include wainscoting, brass finishings, relaxing lighting, a soft, heavy privacy curtain, shelving for small items and a bit of extra space at the foot of the bed.
A common area resembles a traditional hotel lobby, with stylish couches, art and heated floors.
To address concern about sharing facilities with strangers, some pod hotels work with groups to book entire suites. Some also offer female-only suites.
While bookings at both hotels trailed off during the pandemic, bookings are picking up for spring skiing, according to Cache House. And in the long run, it and the Klings are hoping to expand their businesses.
[Wall Street Journal] — Dana Bartholomew