This story first appeared in The Outsider, the premium outdoor newsletter by Jason Blevins. Become a Newsletters+ Member to get The Outsider at coloradosun.com/join. (Existing members, click here to learn how to upgrade)
Jim Deters had a busy December. Not only did the tech entrepreneur open his new hotel-slash-mountain country club at the base of Breckenridge, but he bought the iconic Vail Mountain Lodge in Vail Village and another hotel in downtown Winter Park to grow his Gravity Haus empire.
Deters plans to convert the 28-room luxury Vail Mountain Lodge, Vail Athletic Club and venerable Terra Bistro restaurant into Gravity Haus Vail, offering members of what he calls his “Rocky Mountain country club” access to lockers, a new dryland training center, a co-working space, a new coffee shop and a redesigned restaurant.
“I know Vail Mountain Lodge, Terra Bistro and the Vail Athletic Club, they are institutions in Vail, part of the cultural fabric of the community and we are going to respect that. I can hear people saying ‘Oh no. Change, change, change.’ But we are not going to forget the community that we serve,” said Deters, who closed on the property on Dec. 24. “All the good things are going to stay.”
Deters isn’t ready to discuss the specifics of the Winter Park property yet. That deal is still unfolding. But he’s ready to talk about Vail.
He bought the hotel-condo property from Mike Shannon, the former president of Vail Associates in the late 1980s and a founder of Denver’s KSL Capital Partners, one of the owners of the growing Alterra Mountain Co. resort empire. Deters said, while he wanted to eventually set up a Gravity Haus property in Vail, he wasn’t necessarily shopping.
“But this was just too good of an opportunity and too good of a fit for what we want to do to pass up. To get a property like this is too good to be true,” he said. “There were a lot of people looking at this, and, when Mike chose us, we couldn’t say no.”
Deters is forging a new model for resort lodging with his Gravity Haus plan.
After months of transformation, Deters opened the old 60-room Village Hotel in Breckenridge as the first example of his Gravity Haus concept. The idea is to create a network of Gravity Haus properties for members who maybe aren’t up for buying a vacation home in the mountains but want a place to work, work-out, eat well and hang with like-minded outdoor athletes.
Members get lockers for their skis, discounts on lodging in the hotel, access to adventure guides, a co-working space and advanced gym and spa.
Most of the initial members of his Gravity Haus Breckenridge are locals, he said. He is offering 400 memberships in Breckenridge and expects about that many for Gravity Haus Vail.
He plans to close the hotel in the spring and open by next winter with the new concept, which will revamp the rooms and athletic club and convert Terra Bistro to his Cabin Juice restaurant concept.
He’s already met with owners of condos in the building, and his family spent the last couple weeks working in Terra Bistro and the hotel’s coffee shop.
“I think everyone is excited to bring some new energy and bring it into its new glory and honor all its traditions and keep all the constituents there happy,” said Deters, who, like at his Breckenridge property, is quick to dismiss the notion that he’s bringing some younger, millennial-type vibe to the property.
“This isn’t about one generation or another generation. We want to build a brand and aesthetic that all generations can enjoy,” he said.
This week he will begin offering 20 individual memberships at $5,000 and 20 family memberships at $10,000 to founding members for 2021.
That offers discounts on lodging and dining, an athletic club membership, access to Gravity Haus Breckenridge’s gym and dryland training classes for 2020 and the same rate for the first year of full membership in 2021.