Who We Are: Lawyers turned entrepreneurs leave the UK for Breckenridge
summit daily news
At this time last year, to a stranger, it might have looked like Sally and Guy Hudson had it all. Both rising stars at prominent law firms in England, the young couple had a nice house, drove expensive cars and even enjoyed the occasional international ski vacation.
But, over time the Hudsons realized that, however enviable their lives might be, the fast-paced high-stress lifestyle of corporate law just wasn’t working for them.
“It was big business. Lots of hours, lots of pressure. We didn’t have time to really enjoy our lives.” Guy Hudson said.
It was several years ago that the Hudsons began thinking about making some changes. Big changes.
“You spend so long training and qualifying to become an attorney that you kind of want to give it a good go,” Guy Hudson said. “But … you get to a stage where you think, this really isn’t right. We need more out of our lives than just trudging through.”
The couple began exploring the idea of a career change and a change of scenery to go with it. They knew they wanted to live in a mountain environment, but couldn’t see themselves in any of the alpine places in Europe. Without a specific idea of where they wanted to go, the Hudsons’ plans to make a change remained just plans. Then, in 2008 came a fateful trip to visit friends for a ski vacation at their home in Breckenridge. It didn’t take long for the ski town to capture the couple’s hearts.
“We just fell in love with it, really,” Sally Hudson said.
After that first visit, Sally and Guy Hudson swore they’d never ski anywhere else. With their second and third visits to Summit County, they began to realize they had found a place to start their new lives.
Having settled on a location, the next challenge was immigration. For the Hudsons, the best option for securing a U.S. visa was by starting or buying a business. As lawyers, both Guy and Sally Hudson had advised small business owners on legal matters, so they had exposure to the world of entrepreneurship. Deciding it made more sense for them to buy an existing business than start their own, they began looking around Breckenridge for opportunities. After looking at a few options, they found the O2 Lounge, Breckenridge’s only oxygen bar.
The lounge, which has been open in Breckenridge for approximately 10 years, is equipped with several stations where customers receive oxygen through plastic tubes inserted in their nostrils. The tubes carry a supply of 90 to 95 percent oxygen, flavored to bring about joy, relaxation, clarity or energy if the customer chooses. The Hudsons say the process boosts blood oxygen levels, easing the symptoms of altitude sickness, jet lag or even a hangover.
Altitude sickness is caused by the body’s inability to absorb enough oxygen into the blood stream at higher elevations. The “Oxygen Therapy” treatments are said to infuse the body with excess oxygen which it then is able to use over the next 24 to 48 hours, relieving altitude sickness for a few days.
“We loved the idea,” Guy Hudson said.
So the couple took the plunge, bought the bar and sent in the immigration papers.
“We had a bit of a long, tedious, nail-biting wait until we got the visa,” Guy Hudson said.
When the visa approval came through in April, Guy Hudson left his job and moved to Breckenridge. Sally joined him a few months later. Guy Hudson spent the summer working at the O2 Lounge, learning the ropes of the business from the previous owners. Then in October, the new Breckenridge residents shut the oxygen bar down to completely remodel their new business. Over the next few weeks, the dark blue walls were repainted white, shelves were added and the interior was redesigned to make the space feel bigger.
On Thursday, the Hudsons marked the reopening of the O2 Lounge with a ribbon cutting and a champagne toast, introducing a new menu and refreshed logo.
“What we wanted to do was get our feet under the table, as it were,” Guy Hudson said. “Make some changes and then make a big splash for the start of the winter season.”
The couple says the oxygen therapy could save their customers’ vacations and help boost the town economy.
Sally Hudson said a customer came in recently with altitude sickness so bad she was ready to end her vacation early, but after spending a half an hour on the oxygen she felt well enough to finish out her stay.
“In a way (the O2 Lounge) is helping everyone,” Guy Hudson said. “Because if people are feeling bad they stay in the hotel, don’t spend money and also they’ve got a poor memory of Breckenridge. Whereas, if they can come in and keep themselves feeling well, they have a great time, they spend the money, they come back next year.”
The Hudsons said their new lives as business owners are turning out to be everything they hoped. As their own employers they are able to balance their work with time to play and travel. Both are avid skiers, mountain bikers and Guy Hudson recently joined a local rugby team.
“While it does sound like a major change,” Sally Hudson said. “I think that if you asked a lot of people, if they’re absolutely honest, (they) would love to do what we’ve done. Just to do something different.”
On the far side of the kind of drastic lifestyle change many people could only dream about, the Hudsons say they have no regrets.
“There hasn’t been any hesitation or doubt or moment of what the hell have we done,” Guy Hudson said.
SDN reporter Caddie Nath can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or at email@example.com.
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