Twyla Unland closed the doors of the Revelstoke Backpacker Hostel on Oct. 1, 2021.
“As I walked the hallways for the last time, there was a flood of emotion – sadness at saying goodbye, excitement to start a new chapter, fear of an unknown and undefined future but the prevailing thought was how blessed I was to be part of something that is far deeper than just being a business owner or innkeeper,” she said.
Unland moved to Revelstoke in December 2004 to work as the location manager at the hostel, which was then owned by Samesun Backpacker Lodges. In March 2007 she bought the business and in 2017 she rebranded it the Revelstoke Backpacker Hostel.
|Twyla Unland has worked at The Revelstoke Backpacker Hostel since 2004, she purchased the business in 2007. (Jocelyn Doll-Revelstoke Review)|
She listed the hostel for sale this year and it was purchased by Revelstoke Mountain Resort for staff housing. According to Carly Moran, spokesperson for the resort, staff will be assigned housing in order of date hired.
“The building has 59 beds and will help bridge the gap until the staff housing building is complete,” she said.
A development permit application has been submitted to the city for the first phase of construction for staff accommodation at the resort, Moran said. The plans include a building with 89 apartments, 66 of which are two bedroom and 23 one bedroom, as well as parking for employees and day-visitors.
She said they expect construction to begin in spring 2022 and that it is estimated to take 18-24 months.
Unland’s hostel was the only accommodation of it’s kind in Revelstoke. Though there are guesthouses with shared common areas no other businesses see individual guests sleeping in shared rooms.
“I think hostels are an important part of the accommodation landscape in tourist destinations where conventional motels, hotels and Airbnb’s can make visiting cost prohibitive,” she said. “It allows travellers to stretch their budgets and spend more on the overall experience versus a just place to sleep.”
The closure of the Backpacker Hostel leaves a gap in the accommodation market and Unland said she thinks, short term it make be difficult for people to come to town in the shoulder season and stay in an affordable place while they search for a job and long term accommodation. Though, with the continued border closures the demand for such places will continue to be reduced, she added.
|The hostel has 59 beds. (Jocelyn Doll-Revelstoke Review)|
“There is an amazing opportunity for existing business to pivot their shoulder season demographic as well as for an energetic, travel loving entrepreneur to fill the void left by the closing of the hostel,” she said.
Unland described the business as requiring a lot of time and attention, though she said the happiness of her guests was contagious and a daily reminder to look at everything with deep appreciation and gratitude.
“The people and connections made throughout the years by myself and so many others who stayed are connections that endure to this day,” she said. “There are friendships, marriages and even babies that all share a common thread of having arrived at the hostel at one point in time.”
Though the pandemic took a toll on the business, Unland said it was not a motivating factor for the sale.
“After so many years of playing house mom and business owner, I felt it was time for a change of pace and to focus on my family,” she said.
Unland is excited for the future and plans to collect a few new stamps in her passport.
“This provides a great opportunity to catch up with some of the amazing people I was fortunate enough to meet over the years,” she said.