Buying a mountain lodge in Central Europe

At the beginning of this year, I wanted to buy a mountain lodge. It was an old A-frame hotel in one of Slovakia's less popular ski resorts. With 11 rooms and a price tag of 500.000€, it seemed to be a good opportunity.

My idea was to convert it into one of the concepts/designs I saw in the US and Canada.

Make it still affordable, with a focus on team events and group bookings.

And I thought that with an additional investment €500k I could make an epic and cash-flowing business.

From a socialistic dream to an opportunity in 2024

There are hundreds of such mountain hotels in Central/Eastern Europe.

They were typically built during socialism as hotels of state companies (well, all companies were state companies back then).

They were also used for school trips and gatherings of organizations like Scouts.

The quality of these constructions was low, and most haven't received any proper reconstruction since socialism fell.

So why are these these hotels interesting? 👀

  1. Scarcity: They are in very unique locations where it is not possible to build anything else
  2. Price: Nobody wants to buy these hotels, and the prices go down as they need more maintenance and are not energy-efficient
  3. Demand: The younger generation wants to visit such locations, but the options are typically a fancy hotel (expensive and not so cozy) or a budget but not nice cabin/guesthouse
  4. Seasonality: These properties have a lot of demand during summer and winter (if there is snow). If you can bring bookings in low/mid-season (I can), you are the winner.


So, there is plenty of room for building a scalable hospitality business as there are many of these hotels for sale.

It reminds me of a few hospitality companies in the US and Canada refurbishing old boring motels into trendy boutique hotels.


"OK, tell me finally about that A-frame hotel"

I hired an expert to visit this hotel and review everything.

The final report revealed all the risks and estimated investment (€380k). I decided to pass for three main reasons:

  • The tricky ownership structure of the land - the seller owned the land under the hotel, but some areas right next to the hotel structure were not
  • The road to the hotel is not maintained during the winter, and the only way to get there is by snowmobile = costs added to each single booking
  • Structure of the property - sizes of corridors and rooms don't comply with current rules to get a hotel license (this was the most significant issue)



The boom of modern lodges in 🇺🇸🇨🇦

It has been a couple of years since I found Coachman. It's a mountain lodge at Lake Tahoe.


I scrolled through their Instagram and found this lodge's appearance before the refurbishment. It was an old inn.

There must be more of these restorations out there, right? Right.

I found more than a dozen of them (you can see them all in my research hub, if you are a subscriber). One of my favorites is Ozarker.


👋 Do you want to do this in Europe?

Let me know. I want to be involved.

Business Ideas & Experiments

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More reading

👋 Hey, I'm Peter and  I'm building a portfolio of niche hospitality businesses.

I have created a marketplace for business group travel. It's called Surf Office.

We help companies to organize offsites, we help hotels to bring group bookings. Almost 1000 hoteliers are subscribed to our Hotel Nuggets newsletter.

Before that, I created the first coworking and coliving space for digital nomads. It went well until it didn't.

Side projects 🛠️
Around 2019 I started to play with the idea of building a coworking cabin. It was my inspiration for Epic Monday - a site full of resources for people who are planning to start a cabin business.

Once I'm passionate about something, I deep dive into the topic, run tons of experiments, and sometimes come up with monetization ideas.

Hoodpicker started as a simple survey, then I created a comparison of neighborhoods in Lisbon, and now it's a set of tools for people who want to invest in real estate in Portugal.

Sharing ideas 💡
I have a small team researching ideas that combine hospitality, real estate, and tech. Some of these ideas I share on this blog.

But I share all of them in my personal newsletter. You can subscribe here:

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Call for startups 🚀

Are you building something in niche hospitality? I would love to be involved.

I'm mainly interested in a) Designing hotels for offsites, b) Glampings for remote work, c) Apartments for nomadic families, d) Coworking villages, and e) Modern mountain lodges.

I can help you with funding and distribution. Happy to discuss your project over Linkedin or Twitter chat.

PS: If you live in Amsterdam, we can meet at the next hospitality coworking day.


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