Outdoor Recreation Inspires New-Age Adventure Lodging

Field Station

Modernized adventure lodges know most recreationalists need a nudge out the door.

For context: A recent report from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) found that US participation in outdoor recreation continues to climb.

  • 168.1M people, 55% of the US population ages six and older, participated in outdoor recreation last year, a 2.3% YoY gain.
  • 80% of outdoor activity categories saw growth, with snowshoeing, camping, and XC skiing becoming the top three fastest-growing.
  • Running had the highest average outings per runner at 54, while the average hiker hit the trail six times.

Between the lines: A red flag, while participation rates continue to increase, frequency of recreation is heading in the other direction, with average number of outings declining for the first time since the pandemic.

Worse, the “core” cohort (defined as those who make >51 outings per year) has fallen dramatically for the past decade, with the classification comprising less than 30% of overall participants for the first time ever this year.

What it means: More people are entertaining the idea of getting outdoors, but fewer of them are turning it into a lifestyle. Constrained by time, motivation, and access, larger outdoor pursuits are becoming one-offs.

Gateway to The Outdoors

Even as Americans routinely delay, limit, or cancel time away, their appetite for social, IRL experiences that help them escape from technology and everyday stressors has propelled the outdoor recreation economy north of $860B.

But, as most recorded outdoor pursuits are “gateway activities” like running and walking—and typically happen within a few miles of home—there’s a real need for solutions that can inspire repeated outdoor recreation.

Frontier living. On the forefront, outdoorsy hospitality hubs are creating a front door to the wild beyond, delivering a change of environment ranging from reimagined mountain lodges to off-grid retreats to extreme sports social clubs

  • Microhotel operators Field Station and LOGE are scaling up locations that combine affordable lodging, community events, guided experiences, and gear rentals.
  • Gravity Haus, operator of six members-only clubs that combine lodging, fitness, coworking, and mountain sports, secured financing to expand beyond CO and CA.
  • This January, Starwood Capital and AJ Capital launched Field & Stream Lodge Co., planning 20 to 25 outdoors lifestyle hotels near America’s national parks.
  • Making camping more accessible, tiny cabin retreat operators Getaway, Raus, and Unyoked recently raised funding to expand domestically and abroad.

Meanwhile, Choice Hotels’ wellness-inspired unit Sleep Inn partnered with AllTrails to give guests access to the trail discovery platform’s premium features during their stays.

Takeaway: For many Americans, the urban sprawl offers few of the mental, physical, and spiritual rewards only the great outdoors can offer. To get more people out in the wild more often, recreationalists must first feel comfortable there.

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