Roger Bloss is no stranger to this publication or the hotel industry, having served as founder and CEO of Vantage Hospitality Group and then as EVP & president of global development for RLH Corporation.
His new role as president & CEO of Alternative Hospitality has him back at the helm of a growing (pun intended) entity that he can build from the ground up. The company is launching a portfolio of cannabis-focused health and wellness hotels featuring a dispensary, wellness goods and services to educate guests about the health-enhancing aspects of cannabis.
Bloss is well-versed with the wellness characteristics of cannabis, as the all-natural product helped him with pain management following a major vehicle accident in 2009.
“I always say, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ And, honestly, most people don’t know how many facets there are to the cannabis, CBD and hemp industry,” he said. “The more places I go and the more people I meet, the more questions I get, so I’m still learning new things every day. I think it’s great that people are becoming very conscious of what they are putting in their bodies, and we need to continue to do that. The health and wellness aspect of cannabis is becoming known as a healthy alternative to some traditional pharmaceuticals like pain killers, sleeping pills and opioids. But we still need to get this information out to people and, as more and more states legalize cannabis, I believe that will happen.”
The first project for the company is the 150-room Coachill Inn Resort located in Desert Hot Springs, CA, near the location of one of the most well-known music festivals in the world, Coachella.
“We are on schedule to go full swing by New Year’s Eve 2020,” said Bloss. “This will give us plenty of time to build interest and market it to travel agents and consumers. Plus, New Year’s Eve just has that special vibe.”
Bloss left his executive position at RLH Corporation last year and now serves as a consultant. It was in the former role that the idea of cannabis-focused hotels came to light.
“Several years ago, I was still closing deals for Red Lion, and a deal in Atlantic City that I was working pretty hard on suddenly went silent,” he said. “I finally talked to the guy and asked what happened. He told me that he was selling his hotels because he was just awarded a cultivation license in Nevada. Well, that got me thinking about how I could tie hospitality into the cannabis industry. We stayed in touch and he put me in contact with Kenny Dickerson, the founder of Coachillin’ Canna-Business Park, who was very intrigued by the hospitality angle, and I love it because it allows me to stay engaged in what I do best.”
Bloss has brought his former COO at Vantage, Bernie Moyle, to serve in the same role at Alternative Hospitality. When asked how important it was to have Moyle aboard, Bloss exclaimed, “On a scale of one to 10? An 11! I wouldn’t have done Vantage without Bernie, and I wouldn’t be doing Coachill Inn and Alternative Hospitality without him either. Most of us are lucky to count on one hand the true friendships that have lasted the test of time, and Bernie will always be that friend.”
Bloss and Moyle will use the Alternative Hospitality platform to start 420 Stay, an ownership, development and management company. Two hotel brands are being envisioned: Coachill Inn and 420 Stay.
Leading a pair of brands is not much different than managing the many brands he was in charge of at Vantage Hospitality, Bloss noted.
“I have two children and if you asked me if I had a favorite, I would say, ‘Of course not. I love them equally.’ But there are times one child needs me more than the other, and I devote more of my resources and time to that child for as long as they need the extra attention,” he said. “It’s similar to running multiple brands. It doesn’t matter if you’re running two brands or 20, you care about the success of them all, but your attention and resources go where they need to at the moment.”
While he is very proud of what he is doing in bringing Alternative Hospitality to life, Bloss said that “nothing will ever compare to founding Vantage. We started from absolutely nothing. We mortgaged our homes and maxed out every credit card to get that off the ground. But once we did, it just took off and no other hotel company since has been able to grow as quickly as we did.”
He added, “Coachill Inn and Alternative Hospitality have been equally fun, but it’s different because this is built on the success we had with Vantage. I will always be known as ‘That Vantage Guy’ and that’s the best compliment you can give me.”
Bloss began his hospitality executive career at the age of 17 as the GM of a Holiday Inn. When asked what Roger at 17 would think of his new venture, Bloss said, “I would have said, ‘That is pretty cool.’ However, I’m not sure my 17-year-old self could understand how far cannabis has evolved from being considered a detriment to society into a significant health and wellness product and concept that continues to benefit so many people.”
Alternative Hospitality currently has eight hotels in development in states that have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, noted Bloss, adding, “As I continue to speak about Alternative Hospitality and the cannabis/hospitality industry around the globe, more and more people come to me with unique ideas, and we’re taking some of them very seriously.”
Bloss has a bright outlook for the future. “I believe that cannabis will be federally regulated in five years,” he said, “and I believe in the longevity of what we are trying to accomplish—which is that Coachill Inn and Alternative Hospitality will be known as the ‘go-to’ lifestyle hotel brand and company. People will know that when they stay with us, they will get a very clean, friendly and unique travel experience.”
As for the executive, whose 50th year in the industry is expected to be highlighted by the opening of the first Coachill Inn, retirement is out of the question. “My health has never been better, and I still love to make deals,” he said. “So, as long as I’m happy and healthy, I can see me doing this for at least another eight to 10 years.” HB