Cannabis participation puts focus on operational issues

The Jupiter
The Jupiter, a hotel in Portland, Ore., offers a 420 package with an “everything but the weed kit.” Photo credit: Chris Dibble Photography
The global legal marijuana market is anticipated to reach $66.3 billion by the end of 2025, according to Grand View Research. With a figure that high, it’s not surprising hoteliers are looking for ways to add offerings—within legal limits, of course—in an effort to capture new business. But these efforts carry operational considerations that hoteliers would be wise to consider. 

Packaging is one way hoteliers are upping the ante. For example, The Jupiter, a hotel in Portland, Ore., offers its 420 package with an “everything but the weed kit” that includes discount coupons to local dispensaries, rolling trays, a vape pen, a T-shirt from the hotel, snacks, magazines and other items. Guests can preorder the box to receive at check-in, or the package will be left in their room to discover upon arrival. However, smoking isn’t an option here.

Related Story: Hoteliers dip toes into cannabis-based hospitality

“This is prohibited by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which also handles recreational cannabis use,” said Katie Watkins, community manager at the hotel. “We do, however, partner with the cannabis tour bus Potlandia, which provides folks both a place to smoke and a ride to several dispensaries in town.” 

She said that partnership helps to alleviate any confusion guests might have about consuming while on property. “We state the rules upon arrival, as well as in fine print when ordering the package,” Watkins said. “With the inclusion of our partnership with the Potlandia tour bus, as well as a discount for their services, we have found that guests who are interested in consuming cannabis recreationally have an outlet that is not at the hotel itself.” 

Following the Rules

For seasoned hotelier Roger Bloss, cannabis at hotels is near and dear to his heart—literally. After a major heart attack and a car accident, he was prescribed medical marijuana.  

“It changed my life and for a much better life,” he said. Then, after the sale of his company, Vantage Hospitality, to RLH Corp. in 2016, it was time to branch out. His latest passion project is being developed with his new company, Alternative Hospitality, along with parent company MJ Holdings. Located in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., the 154-room, cannabis-based Coachill Inn Resort will be part of the mixed-used Coachillin’ Canna-Business Park. Set to open in the first quarter of 2021, the park includes plans for a cannabis dispensary and wellness goods. However, Bloss said there are no cannabis sales at the hotel, and smoking is not allowed inside the property. That’s because California has enacted the Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in several public indoor areas, including hotel lobbies, hotel meeting and banquet rooms and 80 percent of guestrooms within a hotel or motel. 

Coachill Inn Resort
The 154-room, cannabis-based Coachill Inn Resort will be part of the mixed-used Coachillin’ Canna-Business Park in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. Photo credit: Alternative Hospitality

“Now, what people do on the balcony is up to them, but there can’t be smoking indoors,” Bloss said. Additionally, he said there will be areas throughout the park to sit outside, and guests can partake in those areas. 

But what if guests decide to smoke in their rooms anyway? While Bloss said he doesn’t have major concerns about that happening, he noted those guests who choose to break the rules will be charged with a fine. 

Discreet Offerings

Michael Eymer, founder of Colorado Cannabis Tours, has had his hand in the cannabis industry for a number of years. In 2014, he founded a cannabis-themed touring company that started off giving people tours and access to growing facilities. It has since evolved, and now his business partners with area hotels that are “420 friendly.” However, discretion is key. Many of his partner hotels want to cater to cannabis guests, but they don’t want to necessarily advertise it due to other types of guests, such as families or older travelers, who might be put off by it. Instead of the hotel’s name displayed on Eymer’s site, a descriptive hotel listing is shown instead—for example, “Picturesque mountain lodge with swimming pool and hot tub minutes from downtown Boulder.” 

“What I’ve seen is that if a hotel opens up in a transparent manner, they can turn off too many other guests,” Eymer said. “They have to figure out how to market these rooms. If you’re a big hotel and in an area that’s receiving a ton of tourists, it’s probably best to remain opaque.” 

And when guests do arrive on property, he said hoteliers need to make sure they know the rules for consumption. Colorado also enforces the Clean Indoor Air Act, which means no smoking indoors. Here, discreet use on the patio is legal, but hoteliers may want to consider where on the property they place cannabis guests versus other travelers. 

“You know who your cannabis consumers are, so don’t stick them in a room next to a family. Put them in an area away from them, in another part of the hotel,” he advised. “Regulate an area, and remain discreet.” 

Getting Comfortable

Whatever challenges might arise from these product offerings, sources said the market is absolutely ready for marijuana-friendly hotels. Bloss, whose company is set to develop several more cannabis-based hotels across several states, said it’s the wave of the future as certain demographics’ wants shift. 

“If you look at New York and a lot of new establishments that have happy hour, they serve it with no alcohol. The 25- to 35-year-old group is the fastest-growing segment to avoid alcohol. They are seeing a shift to this natural lifestyle,” he said. “There are so many benefits to cannabis, and it’s not just about getting high. We’re very comfortable with it.”