Most remote tourism lodge owners would agree with the statement “you need to be the right kind of crazy” to operate one of these businesses.
I’ve never operated a remote tourism lodge, but I have spent a significant amount of time around the industry in various facets: Growing up I held summer jobs at lodges as a dock boy and general labourer, friends of mine had parents who operated lodges and they are now taking them over, I’ve been a guest at several, and I am currently a service provider to this industry.
Through these experiences I’ve observed the inner workings of lodge businesses and gained a good understanding of what it’s like operating one.
I’ve observed the awakening of the lodge from its winter slumber in early spring. The various “to do” items being ticked off as the lodge, grounds, and equipment are prepped for the upcoming season. I’ve witnessed the excitement as the season opener approaches and I’ve seen the burnout in the fall after a busy year. It’s a roller coast many owners ride for decades.
I openly wonder and discuss regularly what drives these owners to choose this career path because it is not an easy one. I’m not sure a lot of them could definitively describe it. They obviously love the outdoors, get to be their own boss, live a unique lifestyle, etc.
But I think the aspect of it that keeps them in this industry, is they love creating and sharing the remote wilderness experience. If you’ve hung around a lodge for any length of time, then you know the owners/operators are the only ones who don’t get to stop and enjoy the experience. They just love creating it and sharing it with others.
There’s a lot of people out there that have a passion for the outdoors and for this reason they have an interest in operating a remote tourism lodge one day. I think it’s great to tie your passions/interests/hobbies into your career any way that you can. But I think of more importance is to gauge your passion for entrepreneurship and hospitality because that is what is going to carry you through the grind of a season and the ups and downs of the industry.
Below are some great articles on what it’s like operating a remote tourism lodge:
- Running a Northern Lodge – A peek behind the scenes of the business of running a Northern lodge: from blizzards, bear invasions and caretakers gone crazy, to the ever-changing face of tourism.
- Running a Back-Country Lodge – Q&A with Paul Conchatre, the president of the Manitoba Lodge and Outfitters Association.
- Ever Fantasize About Buying A Resort? This Entrepreneur Took The Plunge – Have you ever fallen in love with a resort while on vacation and fantasized about buying it? Bruce Alverson did.
- Owning a Northern Fishing Lodge – The Joy, Trials and Tribulations – In the winter of 2009, I left my sheet metal fabrication and welding shop behind, and I bought the Chaudière Lodge.
- Running Minipi: An Insider’s look at Lodge Life – Have you ever wondered what kind of work goes into running a fishing lodge? How about four?
If after reading these articles, you still have an interest in operating a lodge, then check out the marketplace section of the website where you’ll find remote tourism lodges for sale located coast to coast – drive-ins and fly-ins, big and small. If you don’t find one that fits your criteria, then consider posting a wanted ad.
“Making a lodge profitable is challenging. Success sometimes is defined by the amount of enjoyment you get from running such a business.” – Bruce Alverson, The Old Kirby Place
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