After more than 20 years of promoting outdoor activities online, in its retail shops or through its travel program, evo has put its brand on a hotel for the first time. The first evo Hotel opened in February in Salt Lake City’s Granary District as part of a mixed-use outdoor activity-focused development.
The hotel, said evo founder and CEO Bryce Phillips, is the next step in the company’s expansion. Founded online in 2001, the company opened its first brick-and-mortar store in 2005 in Seattle and launched evo Trip in 2009. In October, evo acquired the Journeyman Lodge in Whistler, British Columbia, its first foray into hotels.
Hospitality, Phillips said, fits in with the company’s brand identity. “If you think about our customers and their lifestyle—where they want to be, what they want to do—traveling and experiencing the outdoors is central to their lifestyles,” he said. “We can take what we've learned and then augment our existing core business with a really incredible suite of experiences. That's what hospitality has been for us.”
The Journeyman deal evolved in tandem with plans to create a ground-up hotel with the evo moniker, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the team to tap the brakes on both projects, Phillips recalled. While the company’s leadership feared a business downturn, they instead experienced tailwinds as people stayed outdoors for safety. “As we started to see that things were going in our favor, we started to come off the brakes when it came to a couple of different strategic projects that we were working on,” he said. Construction on the Salt Lake City project began in 2020, and the hotel opened in February.
Campus Salt Lake
The hotel is part of the new Campus Salt Lake, a 100,000-square-foot mixed-use project developed as part of a joint venture between evo and Lake Union Partners. The development is a conversion of five 100-year-old warehouses that were brought together to create the hotel and its facilities. “We love places that are largely overlooked and buildings that have all the history and character but need to be unlocked,” Phillips said.
The campus includes the hotel, two stores for renting and owning gear, the evo Salt Lake & Level Nine Sports, 30,000 square feet of indoor climbing (part of a partnership with Bouldering Project Salt Lake) and the company’s second All Together Skatepark. A restaurant and market hall are set to open later this summer and both commercial and multifamily projects are scheduled to begin soon.
The square footage gave the evo team enough space to maximize not only the company’s own brand but complementary brands. “When you're checking into the hotel, you're looking directly into the Skatepark,” Phillips said. “You walk through the Great Hall after check-in and you pass the evo store and then if you want to keep going down that main foyer you make your way into a Bouldering gym. … We were able to pull all of that off at a pretty large scale under one roof and do it in a really dynamic, integrated way.”
Newton Breiter, development manager and creative director at Lake Union Partners, oversaw the adaptive reuse, incorporating art from local artists and imagery of outdoor landscapes. “One section of the building has actually been designated as a National Historic Landmark,” Phillips noted.
Phillips praised Salt Lake City-based Lloyd Architects for giving the century-old warehouses an Evo vibe. “It's super different, you know—not for everybody. Do you want a more traditional kind of clean, corporate, flagged-style experience? Well, this is not the spot. But if you want something that really keys in on art and community and our love for the outdoors—and also from an architectural perspective is just very creative, different and a blend of that old and new, this is very unique. And so we think it's going to really resonate for those reasons.”
The debut evo Hotel is part of Campus Salt Lake, a mixed-use project in the northeastern part of Salt Lake City. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport and a seven-minute drive from Temple Square.
NUMBER OF ROOMS
Evo & Lake Union Partners
Converting a series of century-old warehouses into contemporary hotel rooms (and a gym, and a skate park and other features) meant meeting a lot of stringent building codes. “The best part, in my opinion, about the project is that there [are] lines of sight and connectivity through every space,” Phillips said. “How do you stay true to that desire while still making sure it meets all the codes?” The team has continually worked on balancing that sense of connectivity and openness while meeting all the safety requirements.