Ryan Donnelly was working as a property manager, leasing apartments in Cary, NC, when he took off on six-month, 30,000-mile road trip that took him all the way to Alaska and back to Key West.
“I came home and told my dad that I wanted to buy a hostel,” Donnelly, 41, said.
He came by that realization after his road trip and his experiences staying in hostels where that hospitality model impressed him with its warmth and friendliness. While on the six-month road trip, he found that the casual, relaxed attitude and the openness of hostel guests led him to socialize and recreate with his fellow traveler.
“I like the comfortable feel I felt when I went into hostels. I went into one alone in Canada and met six people and hiked with them for three days. I met a guy in Alaska who ended up riding with me on the Dalton Highway,” he recalled.
When he got back to North Carolina, he began researching towns with access to skiing where he could find a hostel. He wanted to be near skiing but not in a huge town. He considered the Rockies, Lake Tahoe, Breckenridge and British Columbia, along with Vermont.
He looked into purchasing a building and converting it to a hostel but said most of the advice he got was to avoid that and to find a hostel that already existed as a hostel. He and his dad flew up to check out Hostel Tevere and closed on the purchase from Giles Smith and Sarah Wright on April 30.
Since the purchase, he’s been getting his bearings and conducting a search for the right person to run the kitchen for him. He plans to run the front of the house and bartend and plans to be open to the public Thursday through Monday for food and drinks. The bar will be open seven nights a week and he is considering whether a food truck or a very limited menu would be available on those nights.
Donnelly has experience in the hospitality business having managed his family’s Airbnb and short-term rentals for a couple of years. He also spent a year as a restaurant manager in North Carolina and has a degree in business.