A Playground for Thrill-Seeking Next-Gen Vacationers
When Gravity Haus founder Jim Deters learned that Vail Mountain Lodge was for sale in the fall of 2019, he could hardly believe it. Already immersed in opening the first property (in Breckenridge) of what is now a budding hotel-and-amenities empire, Deters and his wife, Alicia, submitted one of dozens of bids to acquire the lodge—as well as its locally popular amenities, including the Vail Athletic Club and Terra Bistro restaurant.
The bids were whittled to 15 and then four, before VML owner Mike Shannon ultimately selected the Deterses. “He said, ‘Look, I’m trusting you to do the right thing here.’ And I said, ‘Mike, this is us,’” Deters recalls. “It really was the most ideal asset in Vail to make our property. And a lot of the foundation had been laid. We just needed to modernize it to new standards and capabilities.”
So began a frenzied remaking of one of Vail Village’s flagship destinations. Terra Bistro became Slope Room. The 18,000-square-foot spa became a lounge with a coworking space, called Starter Haus. The lobby, restaurant, and eight rooms were renovated. And this spring, work began on a reimagined version of the former athletic club, set to open late this summer.
Gravity Haus, which is both a hotel and an adventure hub for a growing membership base (1,500 and counting; rates start at $50 per month for a year and go up to $170, including access to all amenities as well as gear and travel perks), manifested from Deters’s own experience of traveling and playing in the mountains. The longtime entrepreneur and amateur athlete sought to create a second home for those who didn’t own one. Many hail from the Front Range, but the company has attracted members from around the country, especially since the pandemic began.
“It’s not about creating a hotel for transient guests; it’s about how we galvanize the outdoor lifestyle for this community that loves wellness and adventure and enjoys those things with other members of the community,” Deters says. “This is all very intentional.”
Building a new kind of hotel athletic club
The idea to create Dryland, Gravity Haus’s functional performance gym, came to Jim Deters in 2017. His oldest daughter, Chloe, was a rising-star soccer player when an opponent’s slide tackle shattered her lower leg. Deters realized there was nowhere for a junior athlete to recover in the way that she needed. So he built a gym in Denver that became the model for his current project in Vail, upgrading the Vail Athletic Club. The club’s official name is Dryland Fitness and Spa, but as Deters says, “We’re going to make it a more modernized, athlete-centric spa than just a chichi spa. We’ll still do facials and massage, but we’re not doing hair and makeup. We think it’s a better opportunity for athletes, from those who just want to stay fit all the way to incredibly hardcore people.”
Vail’s iteration of Dryland, set to open in July, will offer cutting-edge recovery tools like Hyperice massage while opening up the space to Gore Creek out front. The former climbing wall is gone, but a large turf area is being added, and the gym still will cater to yoga enthusiasts. “It’s going to be our biggest, most sophisticated gym with a ton of modern amenities,” Deters says. The goal, he adds, is to translate its utility into real-world benefits outdoors—which, of course, is why guests come to Vail in the first place.
Deters and his wife, who have three children, relocated to Vail in June 2020 in a move that was planned before the pandemic. Alicia, a third-generation real-estate developer, manages design and construction across the company—which, by the way, is opening new properties in Denver and Winter Park this summer, as well as expanding its Pop-Up Camps (think glamping) in Grand Mesa; prepping a new hotel in Truckee, California; and even exploring potential expansions into surf destinations. But for now, the owners’ attention remains focused on their adopted hometown, which holds a certain allure.
“In our opinion,” Deters says, “Vail is one of the crown jewels of the Colorado mountains.”