Adventurous travelers, outgoing visitors and heavy sleepers might have finally found their niche at a new hotel in Breckenridge. The Bivouac is a hostel where, rather than book a room, guests pay for a bed in a shared space with others.
The Bivouac, or “Bivvi,” is a name for an improvised camp constructed of natural materials, such as those used in scouting and mountaineering. With the average nightly hotel rate in Breckenridge at about $250, owners Bond Camp, originally from Georgia, and Worthy McCormick, of Vermont, decided to offer an alternative.
The two met while studying business at the University of Colorado Boulder. They often traveled together and have lived in a variety of places around the world. McCormick owned a bar and restaurant in Boulder for the last few years.
“Hostels are sort of synonymous with places like Central America or Europe,” McCormick said. “We wanted to bring it back to the homeland, to the mountains.”
They started working on the Bivvi in June last year, officially opening on Dec. 4. Camp and McCormick spent three months renovating the old Allaire Timbers Inn, south of town on Highway 9. During the summer, they continued to run the bed and breakfast, then took the slower months in the early fall to work on their vision.
“People here are cultured, have traveled quite a bit,” McCormick said. “It’s a pretty new concept. Shared accommodation — in the states, people don’t consider it an option. We all grew up with hotels and motels and private rooms.”
“It’s becoming an option though,” Camp said. “In bigger cities, they pop up here and there.”
After sleeping on couches and even in their cars on trips up Interstate 70 to come to the mountains while in school, the co-owners thought they could build a better solution for a more affordable, flexible way to visit High Country. The two even once bought an old school bus on eBay and used that to come up to the mountains, sleeping 10 people in their “mountain-mobile.” McCormick said their business model is ideal for ex-couch surfers.
The Bivvi has 10 rooms and a total capacity of 32 — six of the rooms are more traditional hotel rooms, with a private balcony and bathroom. The other four rooms are bunk rooms, hostel-style. For $45 per night, people can rent a bed in a four- or six-person shared room. The bunk beds were custom made out of Norwegian pine; some are triple-stacked, making them bigger, more suited for adults.
Under the beds are individual storage drawers with combination locks for guests to keep valuables. McCormick said they were fully booked over the holidays, and reservations have picked up as word of mouth spreads.
“Our place is pretty unique and people need to know the story, need to see the hostel side of it, before they book,” he said. “The people who do know, well, we get an amazing like-minded group of people who all want to meet each other and go skiing together, just hang out and play cards.”
Camp said the clientele has varied, mostly people from 18 to 35 or 40 years old, but with some older guests, as well. The hostel includes a fresh, healthy breakfast every morning. No children under 12 are allowed, because the Bivvi has a more adult-friendly environment, and no one under 18 can stay in the dorms.
The Bivvi is not listed on websites like Expedia.com or Hotels.com, however, because the owners wanted to make sure people were not just blindly booking a room without realizing it was a shared space.
Camp and McCormick live downstairs in an apartment below the Bivvi, which led to a “no shoes” policy inside. The two sport colorful socks or fuzzy slippers, a policy guests have also embraced.
“We’d love to see it expand, even just for this concept to take off,” McCormick said. “We’re really the first people taking the concept in this direction. It’s a fun, unique place.”
He said in the future, they would most likely focus on other ski areas if they were to expand. For now, every booking is a chance to get more people excited and educated about what a hostel experience can look like.
“We didn’t think we were using to use ‘hostel’ originally because of all of the bad connotations,” Camp said. “But we’re able to educate people about hostels, they aren’t all seedy places, it’s just a style of accommodation that is community-driven.”
Every room has its own bathroom, since the Bivvi was converted from a traditional inn. The sinks are located outside the bathroom, so guests have access if someone else is using the shower or toilet.
McCormick said they kept the design of the rooms simple, in order to put the emphasis on the common room. A giant elk horn chandelier painted bright cobalt blue hangs over modern furniture bursting in bright coral colors. The bar with two taps and the fire pit with chairs and a hot tub on the back deck add an even greater sense of community.
“We went for a very modern approach to mountain style,” Camp said. “Really as different as we can, totally weird and funky.”
They used local stone and other Colorado details to put the custom finishing touches on the Bivvi.
“We wanted to go against the grain, not to have that ski town, lodging look stereotype,” McCormick said. “Most hotels compete for the most luxurious, the best spa, the most volume —”
“We’re in it for the lifestyle,” Camp interjected. “We’re not trying to book 900 rooms. We want it to be intimate.”
The Bivouac is located at 9511 CO-9, Breckenridge. For more information, visit www.thebivvi.com or call (970) 423-6553.