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Heavy Mettlers

(June 2017) posted on Fri Jun 30, 2017

When it comes to earth-shaking hospitality concepts, it’s less about face melting and more about technical chops. Examples: 21c Museum Hotels and Getaway.

By Oriana Lerner

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But not every hotel revolution starts so quietly—or with such modest goals. Even the masterminds behind some of the least conventional concepts are taking a hard look at how to use the best of corporate thinking to scale their ideas.

Take, for example, Pete Davis and Jon Staff, cofounders of Getaway—a tiny-cabin rental company. Their enterprise might offer micro-size products (starting at about 160 sq. ft.), but they never set out to be a one-hit wonder. Instead, the two Harvard alums met during their undergrad days and formed the Millennial Housing Lab with other students, including those in design, business and law, to develop alternative housing ideas. The idea of letting guests test-drive the tiny-house concept made a “hotel” set-up the perfect forum for bringing those unusual living spaces to a wider audience.

An outsize window in one of Getaway's cabins gives nature center stage. Below that, seating takes it cues from the tiny-house approach to multifunctional pieces in a small area. Photo: Roderick Aichinger

So, they knew from the time their first cabin was driven out to a site north of Boston in 2015 that they wanted to turn their debut effort into a brand. The biggest stumbling block to doing so was finding a place to set up the cabins, which are built as trailers and towed to their destinations.

Jon Staff
Jon Staff, Getaway. Photo: Courtesy of Getaway

A fresh approach to a public/private partnership provided one answer, at least for the company's three pop-up cabins in New York Harbor, open Memorial Day to Labor Day 2017. The National Parks Service manages the land that those cabins sit on. Another permanent site (not in partnership with the NPS) outside of New York City came online in 2016. Now, thanks to a $15 million investment from investor/developer L Catterton, the duo are set to bring Getaway to new markets.

Pete Davis
Pete Davis, Getaway. Photo: Courtesy of Getaway

Clearly, more than great ideas are at work here. Read on for these pioneers’ best practices for making design revolution a marathon, not a sprint.


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