BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Getaway, the hospitality company that offers mindful escapes to tiny cabins in nature, hired Carlos Becil as its first-ever Chief Experience Officer last July, following a monumental year of growth and $41.7M Series C funding. As the former CMO of Coach and Equinox, and VP of Brand Management for Starwood, Carlos is bringing a dynamic perspective to Getaway, helping take it from a “tiny cabin” rental company to a global hospitality business.
Green Lodging News recently interviewed Becil about Getaway and its growth. The following are our questions and Becil’s answers:
What do you consider to be your primary responsibilities? You have quite a unique title. What is your typical day like? If there is such a thing?
As Chief Experience officer of Getaway, I oversee Guest Experience/Operations, Architecture and Design, Marketing and Technology. My priority across all teams is to champion our mission to create free time in the world, and that comes through in how we design our cabins and Outposts, the experience we create, and the ways in which we communicate with our community. A typical day could be anything from visiting an Outpost meeting with the team to ensuring our online presence reflects Getaway’s brand ethos.
How many full-time folks do you oversee?
I oversee a team of 300+ including part-time staff at our Outposts and those on the HQ team.
What about your company do you consider to be socially responsible?
We believe that by getting people out into nature we are aiding a deepening in our culture’s collective appreciation for nature which will hopefully result in a future where we are all better stewards of the environment and our planet. Within our Outposts, we are thoughtful to minimize the number of trees we must take down and leave the natural landscape as untouched as possible. We also run all our utilities along the road to reduce any clearcutting for them and don’t do any “landscaping” but rather “re-wilding” to bring the environment back to a more natural state with local plants. This also allows us to rely on the natural landscape to maintain itself without us needing additional water usage for landscaping or sprinklers. Getaway also partners with One Tree Planted, the nonprofit on a mission to help global reforestation efforts. For every new Getaway booking, we donate to One Tree Planted. We started Getaway to create the space and opportunity for people to reconnect with nature, and our hope is that in some small way this helps more people in more places have nature in their lives.
What about the cabins themselves or any fixture or item found in the cabins do you consider to be “green” or “sustainable”?
The most sustainable parts of Getaway are the facts that (1) the cabins are truly very small, meaning we use far less material than a typical building (for reference, Getaway cabins are about half the size of the average hotel room); and (2) Getaway is a short drive away, versus the plane flight required for a more traditional vacation. Additionally, we build all our cabins off site in a factory setting where we have a lot more control over efficient use of materials and reducing construction waste, and Getaway almost never paves roads and so we create far less impervious surfaces than is typical in hospitality.
Are there any stories here from an energy-saving (anything about the AC or heat), water-saving or waste-saving perspective? Or, maybe from a product choice (Pharmacopia)?
Getaway cabins purposefully have “everything you need and nothing you don’t,” and the “nothing” includes a television and other electronics, resulting in less e-waste. Our cabins also feature big picture windows that let in enough natural light to fill the cabin, limiting the use of electricity during the daytime. On top of the small volume and carbon footprint of a tiny house cabin, we are also amid a project to dial in our HVAC and envelope for maximum efficiency and further reduced energy consumption. Lastly, we also use all super low flow plumbing fixtures in our cabins.
Your company currently has 15 outposts? More? How many total cabins currently?
Last month [November 2021] we announced the opening of five new Outposts in Boston, New Orleans, Minneapolis, Kansas City and Indianapolis, and a collective 224 new cabins. This brings our total count to 20 Outposts, nearly a 50 percent increase since 2019, and over 800 cabins.
Talk a bit about what your guests like about these cabins? How large is each cabin? Are there different sizes? Does the design vary at all based on location?
Our tiny cabins range from 140 to 200 square feet and every cabin regardless of the location shares the same, simple design. Our custom-built cabins were designed with the idea of allowing our guests to immerse themselves in nature, while having everything they need to truly disconnect and simply enjoy nature and the company of themselves and/or loved ones. The cabins utilize natural elements—wood, metal, and glass—and Eastern White Pine throughout, to help create a seamless transition from outside to in. Every cabin has a big picture window to allow our guests to wake up to the sunrise or doze off gazing at stars. These textures pair with simple hints of neutral tones throughout, including our crisp white linens and accents, a multi-purpose table that guests can use to eat a meal made together or play a game of cards, or simply have a deep conversation. Our design focuses on creating a place that enables our guests to escape to nature as effortlessly as possible and have a deep and memorable experience within.
What are your current plans to grow the brand? I know you got a big boost in funding earlier in the year .
Earlier this year , we closed a $41.7 million Series C funding round led by Certares, with continued support from existing investors, which has helped support our rapid growth and the eight new Outposts we opened or announced this year. Our priority remains focused on opening new Outposts throughout the country and beyond, bringing the opportunity to Getaway to even more consumers, especially as nature-tourism and disconnected travel continue to rise.
It was mentioned that you have been a champion of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout your career and continue to be an advocate for progress. Are these values reflected in the management team/employees at your company? Why are these values important?
Fostering an inclusive environment and creating a company where people are proud to work is something we are constantly striving for. Earlier this year, Getaway hired the company’s first Chief People Officer, Deslyn Norris. I’m proud to work closely with Deslyn to champion diversity, equity, and inclusion both amongst our staff and our guests. In July 2021, Getaway partnered with Rachel Cargle, founder of The Loveland Foundation to recommit to A Year of Rest, offering another 365 nights of rest for Black people fighting for social justice for the second consecutive year. Getaway has always provided a safe space in nature for people of all backgrounds, and our ongoing Year of Rest initiative bridges the gap between nature and the Black community by providing a safe, welcoming respite.
How has the coronavirus impacted the success of your company? How good of a year was 2020? 2021?
As a travel destination that is naturally socially distanced, contactless, and accessible by car, Getaway offered a respite for many people looking for a safe way to disconnect and get out of the cities into nature during the pandemic, escaping to support their wellbeing. In 2020, Getaway saw a 150 percent increase in bookings year-over-year and nearly 100 percent occupancy on its existing portfolio. In 2021, even as air travel returned and people began to take international trips again, Getaway saw further growth and even expanded its footprint in the United States with new Outposts in markets such as Chicago, Nashville and Seattle.
What do you enjoy most about your work? Is there an assignment of which you are most proud? Or that has excited you the most?
I’m very happy to be back in hospitality working with a purpose driven brand. My favorite part of the day is reading our daily guest comments and understanding the impact we’re having on their lives. It keeps me and my team grounded as to what’s most important, and why we do what we do. The ability to make space in the world to enjoy free time in nature, disconnect and reset is very powerful.
Do you have an interest in nature that goes back to when you were younger?
Yes, I have always loved hiking, mountain biking and just being out in nature. I grew up and have spent most of my life in NYC and have always appreciated the access to nature in the Northeast and the positive impact it has had on my well-being. My favorite vacations include visiting National Parks and just staying close to the beautiful landscapes we have in this country. It’s a great way to disconnect and reset.
Finally, you have worked in the industry for quite some time. What is your assessment of where the industry currently stands when it comes to CSR, reducing carbon impact, etc.?
The industry continues to make progress and it is encouraged by the support of our communities, who share the same goals. We all need to continue to partner to find ways to reduce environmental impact. This is a long-term commitment that will continue to move forward.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.