Cousins Phil and Mark Bouman have secured a location, designed a logo and shipped in bunk beds from the U.K. in preparation for what they hope will be the first international hostel to successfully open in Grand Rapids.
Now, all they need is your support.
“I think a big part of it is educating the city,” says Phil Bouman. “A lot of folks here in West Michigan don’t really know, what is a hostel? What is a hosteling experience?”
Both passionate about experiencing new things and traveling abroad, Phil and Mark came to the decision to start moving forward with plans for Grand Rapids International Hostel
while lying in the bunk beds of an international backpackers hostel on the beaches of Rio De Janeiro.
“I think it was the first night we were both there, we were sleeping in bunk beds and we looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, I think we should open an international hostel in Grand Rapids,'” Mark says.
The pair has been able to get ahead of other similar groups such as Stay Hostel
and Grand River Hostel
, the latter of which has stalled in progress due to a lack of start-up funding.
100 percent privately funded, the Bouman cousins were able to purchase a 4,100-square-foot home in May, located at 117 Page Street NE in the Creston neighborhood.
The 150-year-old Victorian converted hostel boasts five bedrooms and four bathrooms for occupants. The four rooms with bunk beds can house a total of 26 occupants while the fifth room, designated as “semi-private” with its own half-bath, can host four occupants in a bunk bed and one queen bed. They don’t yet have any solid pricing in place quite yet, but expect nightly rates to fall somewhere in the $20-$30 range.
With the full support of the Creston Neighborhood and Business Associations, Phil and Mark say the newness of the hostel concept is the biggest hurdle left for Grand Rapids International Hostel.
“There are currently rules in place for a bed and breakfast and there are rules in place for a hotel/motel, but there are not necessarily rules in place for a hostel,” Phil says. “I think a hostel is something that is somewhere in between those two. We’ve been working with city planners, city commissioners and even state reps in order to get verbiage that will work for us to open the hostel.”
So far, Phil says the city of Grand Rapids has been very responsive to their efforts, and if all goes as planned they will be ready to open next spring.
Both Phil and Mark hope that GRIH can act as an renewed breath of life into the Creston neighborhood, and ideally act as the kind of economic driver that brings in new people to patronize not only their new business, but the surrounding existing businesses, too.
“Creston neighborhood is a really tight-knit neighborhood that I think has some big upsides in terms of the North Quarter here,” Mark says, referencing community favorites like Graydon’s Crossing and Rezervoir among them. “I think a lot of people around Grand Rapids aren’t super familiar with the Creston neighborhood, but we hope to be a part of kind of the resurgence to the North Quarter and the Creston neighborhood.”
Find more information about Grand Rapids International Hostel or stay updated on its progress by visiting www.grhostel.com or Grand Rapids International Hostel on Facebook
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images Courtesy of Grand Rapids International Hostel