We had the good fortune of connecting with Carryn Burton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Carryn, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Cohabit was over 3 years in the making. My husband, Bret and I have travelled and stayed in hostels around the world and always knew we wanted to create something similar in our community. We live in an expensive resort town that mostly caters to the wealthy. There was a need for an affordable and more inclusive alternative. I began brainstorming ideas for a hostel or mirco hotel that would allow everyone to enjoy our beautiful mountains. One of our challenges was making sure we were affordable but also offered guests a little more privacy than traditional hostel bunk rooms. After much research, trial and error, we landed on the pod concept. We had the pods custom designed and built in Denver, we settled on an ideal location in Avon and the rest is history. Bret and I spent many years in the hospitality and customer service industry. When we coupled that with our love for minimalist travel and community, it was a natural transition to start our own pod hotel.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Cohabit is a pod hotel – the first of its kind in Colorado. We offer guests a unique and affordable alternative to traditionally overpriced hotels. We merge the relaxed, social elements of a hostel with the privacy of a boutique hotel. We do not have hotel rooms, instead we offer 27 custom built sleep pods. Each pod can accommodate two guests in a bunk bed and feature power outlets, reading lights, luxury linens and mobile smart locks. Our pods are noise insulated and well ventilated to ensure maximum guest comfort. We strive to bring travelers, outdoor enthusiasts and adventure seekers together in a sleek and inviting setting. Guests will enjoy a shared lounge and lobby to mingle with like-minded people and cultivate life-long friendships. Our chic space also boasts newly designed restrooms, showers, locker room facilities and ski storage.
Our prime location in the heart of Avon gives guests easy access to all of our valley’s amenities. Walk to nearby retail stores, bars and restaurants, as well as the City Market grocer. Convenient bus stops are just outside our door with free service around town and to Beaver Creek ski resort. Everything you need is just a short walk or bus ride away.
Cohabit’s minimalist lodging is for the experiential traveler who values connection and community over pricey hotel amenities. Exceptional customer service is our passion – coupled with access to world class activities, all at an affordable price.
Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Starting our own small business and trying to introduce a unique, new concept had its challenges. We faced many hurdles in the early days with town planning and zoning, parking and building code. Since our business had never been done before, there was very little precedent at the government level, we were blazing the trail from the get-go. It took many months to get all the necessary approvals.
As always, construction is never without its troubles. Costs escalated and delays were inevitable. We gutted the 7000 square feet restaurant, which included all the restaurant equipment and finishes. With every wall that came down, a new problem was uncovered. We were lucky to work with a great contractor and sub-contractors who did an amazing job on the remodel.
One of our biggest challenges was designing and building the pods. Nobody is making these in the US and we had to search for a builder to make the product from scratch. We got lucky and teamed up with Tiny Home Connection out of Lakewood, CO. They are tiny home builders who helped up conceptualize, design, build and ship 27 custom pods. The finished product is better than we ever imagined but there was a lot of trial and error throughout the process.
Of course its worth mentioning that opening a hospitality business just before a global pandemic was a huge emotional and financial blow. Our timing couldn’t have been worse and we had to close up shop in mid March. However, we have officially reopened the pod hotel and we are looking forward to welcoming summer visitors.
Lastly, our continuing challenge is to change the misconception of hostels and the stigma associated with them. Hostels are not as popular in the US as other parts of the world, but the trend is catching on as pioneers in the industry continue to introduce cool hostel concepts to the American public. We also have to continually educate people on the idea of a “pod hotel.” The number one question is, “what is a pod hotel?” And we are happy to explain. We have also run into a lot of trouble with our name. We don’t want to classified as a hostel, but calling ourselves a hotel can be misleading. We started out with the name Pod Hotel, but the words are trade marked. We pivoted to Podtel, but again were met with resistance from the NYC company with the Pod Hotel trademark. Finally, we have landed on Cube Hotel. The trademark is pending.
Finally we want our brand to be synonymous with exceptional customer service, attention to detail and being a gateway to world class outdoor ammennities.
Cohabit – big hospitality in a small space
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is just so much to do in and around our valley. My recommendations would obviously depend on the season. In the summertime, there are endless outdoor options. Our favorite local spot is Nottingham beach and park – were you can relax, grill, swim, SUP and play sand volleyball. We also love to spend time floating the river or rafting – the Upper Colorado out past State Bridge is ideal for easy floating and fishing. The Arkansas river is the best for big white water rafting.
In the winter we love to ride or skin up Bachelor Gulch. We take our kids to Meadow mountain for sledding. We have incredible trials right behind our house in Wildridge for mountain biking – Lee’s way is our fave. There are also endless trails for snowshoeing, 4×4, hiking and dirtbiking.
Unfortunately we dont get out much these days to drink and eat with our 2 young kids, but when we did – our favorites are: Vin 48 drinks and happy hour. Maya at the Westin. Southside Benderz for sports. Dinner, our favorite are Matsuhisa, Vail. Splendido, Beaver Creek. The drunken goat, Edwards and The Rose, Edwards.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I had tremendous support from my husband through the grueling months of construction and the early months of brand new business. He always gave me encouragement when I needed it most. One the biggest shoutouts goes to my mother, Janet, I don’t think we could ever have opened Cohabit without her. She was my biggest cheerleader and sounding board. She put in countless hours at the pod hotel while also helping with our 2 young children.