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Perspectives
After living at Jay Peak for a month, I’m sold on Relocation Vacations.

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GREGG
BLANCHARD
       

A few months ago I wrote about Jay Peak’s Relocation Vacation concept. I was intrigued – very intrigued – on both a personal and a marketing level. The marketing possibilities behind a new, unique product like this were fascinating. But closer to home, we’d unsuccessfully tried a couple times to spend a month in New England.

Even still, the idea of actually doing it ourselves was a far-fetch dream.

In the weeks that followed, however, things changed. Things like online elementary school. Until one night I was laying in bed and thinking about how we may never have an opportunity like this again. Eventually I rolled over to my wife and said:

“If we don’t do something special with this, I can’t help but think we’re gonna regret it once this is all over.”

She agreed 100% and we started to explore our options. Some were on fire (California) and others impossible (overseas), but Jay Peak was perfect: fall in New England with plenty of space to work/school.

Less than three weeks later, I was on the phone reading my credit card number to book 6 weeks of Relocation Vacation adventures.

A Thing
With the border between the resort and one of their major markets remaining closed, Jay is in a unique situation. But as I’ve not only observed this concept but experienced it, I’m more intrigued than ever by the possibilities – outside of a COVID context.

Let’s dig into what I’m seeing.

#1) Nomad? Not really, but…
As soon as we told friends and family about our plans, we kept hearing people describe it as a sort of digital nomad type thing. People likened it to “van life” families, for example.

What’s interesting is that, yes, we’d been intrigued by the romantic idea of traveling the country, tut that’s not how we were necessarily thinking about this. In hindsight, it’s absolutely satisfied some corner of that desire of freedom and exploration that had tickled our imagination.


Within a couple weeks, our condo felt surprisingly like home.

The difference? We’re not living in a van, we’re living in a condo with a full kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, and washer/dryer. There is a ton of demand an interest in the digital nomad lifestyle, but historically there’s also been a ton of sacrifice – normal living space – and commitment – buying an RV – required to do it.

So the first key takeaway is this: we’re getting the sense of adventure and exploration of a “digital nomad” family while living and working and schooling like a normal one.

#2) An Amazing Way to Travel
But set aside the possible demand that exists for something between a 1 week and 1 year rental and I still see an idea that’s really strong. Because staying for a month in one place? It’s totally and completely awesome.

The simplest way to explain it is there’s a complete lack of stress I sometimes feel with shorter vacations. A couple days of rain on a traditional trip could ruin the whole thing. It could be the difference between doing everything we hoped for and doing half of it. Or none of it.


Riding a rail trail north of Newport, VT

But with a month? That stress almost disappears. When a storm rolls in you can play games or sit by the fire. You can spread out adventures so you don’t come home exhausted. You can take a day off if you need and just read a book or wander the base area or play at a nearby park. It is, hands down, the best style of vacationing I have ever experienced.

So takeaway number two is this: a month-long stay is the best resort/travel experience I’ve ever had…and it’s not even close. It’s 4x the length of week-long vacation, but 10x as enjoyable.

#3) Work & Travel Can Go Hand-in-Hand
For years I’ve talked about the idea of filling midweeks with folks who can work remotely, but I’d never really done it to know if it’s realistic for a young family like ours.

Spoiler, it is. The kids do online school upstairs while I work downstairs. I spread 6 days of PTO across this month but in hindsight, I probably didn’t need that much. A full day off each week mixed with morning/evening adventures and getting out and about on weekends would have been enough.


Riding the tram with the fam on our first day out of quarantine.

Talking with Trevor the other day I admitted that I’m feeling more productive than usual even with the shorter weeks simply because I’m so refreshed and upbeat when I’m back at the desk. Time with family and new adventures are a great balance to a solid day of focused work. Did a condo help? Absolutely. If I didn’t have kids a hotel room would fly, but with kids needing space to school and play, a separate bedroom was really helpful.

So lesson #3 is this: work and vacation can absolutely mix and we shouldn’t be afraid of products that are designed this way. Especially now that we’re getting over the old faux pas of hearing kids or whatever in the background of work calls.

#4) Don’t be Scared of Quarantines
I think there’s a feeling among resorts that if your state has a quarantine requirement in place you’ve got no chance with those out-of-state markets. I think you should try anyway. And if you need a spokesperson for that? I’d be happy to help. Seriously.

Because quarantining was not that bad. In Vermont, for example, it’s not about locking yourself in your house. We were allowed to be outside in the “yard” around the condo (if we stayed away from other guests) and go for drives. And while it was hard to not stop at cool parks or farm stands, it also went much smoother than I thought.


We brought along the DSLR and took lots of drives during quarantine to enjoy the leaves.

Granted, it was made easier by the kindness of the folks at Jay Peak, but that might be a lesson if you do get folks to come who have to quarantine: A few donuts or some ice cream dropped on someone’s porch can go a long way when they’re not allowed to go shopping for two weeks. Speaking of shopping, yes, quarantining takes some planning. But a couple of blog posts or videos would go a long way toward resolving that concern.

In other words: yes, quarantining isn’t ideal, but, no, you shouldn’t NOT market to folks just because they’d have to quarantine especially if you show them a way through.

Dripping with Potential
Jay sold a lot of these this summer and they’ve already sold a bunch of the $15,000 winter variety as well.

But even if you’re not facing the same challenges of Jay, I think this is absolutely a concept you should explore. The price may need to be different, the times it is offered may need to be more limited, and it will take some time to dial your marketing. But there are a lot of people looking for an experience like this who only think they can do it by living in a van or taking a sabbatical.

That’s simply not the case and your resort could be their ticket.

In other words, I truly believe that – played right – relocation vacations could absolutely become a thing. Don’t go all-in on it right away, but experiment and see how it goes. At the least, I know one guy who’d probably take you up on it.


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