The pandemic juiced up traveler interest in the outdoors. The Evo is an adventure hotel aiming to meet that demand. Its design reflects an integration of art and community, not just gear storage boxes.
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Interest in adventure travel shows no signs of abating – so why should hotels for those who love to ski, snowboard, or climb kick back in a run-of-the-mill space?
Re-envisioned mill space – or 100,000 square feet of a former warehouse, to be exact – is just where those satisfying their wanderlust should land, said Tommy Trause of Salt Lake City’s new Evo Hotel.
The head of new locations and hospitality, Evo and Evolution Projects said the new 50-room property in Utah’s capital was always envisioned as an “adventure hotel,” with design being most integral to the concept.
“Different passions bring different types of people together, whether you like skiing, surfing, mountain bikes, or art. We always had this idea of a hospitality ecosystem, where there’s action, connection, and learning,” Trause said. “We wanted to intentionally design a space that catalyzes these creative collisions between people.”
At Evo, that comes together physically and in metaphor and vernacular.
“We’re maniacal about that flow-through space,” said Trause. “Every three feet, we want texture, diversity, we want people to explore and see a story that celebrates Salt Lake City.”
Trause and his team refer to the Evo complex not as a hotel but as a “campus.” All along, they pictured the lobby as an “artery,” he said.
“Our Great Hall is a central meeting spot stitching together different warehouse buildings with lots of movement, people, and activities,” Trause said.
Those activities are all accessible via the hall, which connects the 26,000-square-foot Bouldering Project indoor gym with climbing, yoga class space, a fitness studio, and a 5,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor skatepark. Each is open to hotel guests and the Salt Lake community.
Lighting plays a role at Evo from the moment anyone arrives, said Trause, who enlisted Blackmouth Designs to create “more than a fixture, but a conversation piece.” In the Great Hall, their eye-catching installation casts a prism from on high. Two hundred suspended mini disco balls gleam, arranged to mirror the topography of Mount Superior.
From there, a multistory mural at the open stairway to the guest rooms portrays the state’s original snowbird – a native chickadee – stretching its talons, ready to snatch an ascending cable car at Snowbird mountain.
The hotel’s architectural expanses serve as a metaphor for the broadening and diversification of the state’s capital. Utah was the country’s fastest-growing state from 2010 to 2020, drawing in young, adventuresome professionals to industry hubs like that of Goldman Sachs. Development has resulted in several new hotels that are decidedly different from Evo’s approachable industrial aesthetic: 700-room Hyatt Regency, attached to Salt Palace Convention Center; and Le Meridien and Element, opening this quarter.
“With so much demolition in the past decade here in SLC, seeing existing buildings given new life is so refreshing and respected,” said artist and city native Anna Copeland-Rynders.
She and her husband, photographer Adam Clark, curated Evo’s common areas and guest rooms to feature separate commissioned pieces of various mediums, harmonizing with original heavy timber trusses and original painted lettering on brick walls.
The concept is particularly effective in the wing with the Rafter Rooms, said Copeland-Rynders, which feature an LED lightbox with action shots of Utah’s iconic outdoor sports at their entryway. The hallway becomes illuminated as guests wander past the gear storage boxes outside each room. Evo also offers gear rentals for those traveling light or trying a new sport.
In the lounge, another local muralist puts a contemporary spin on the most iconic portion of Michaelangelo’s mastery of the Sistine Chapel, with vibrant hands stretching toward each other to share one of Utah’s ubiquitous red rocks.
There, and in the Crown Bar and Curator’s Café (serving local roaster Publik Coffee), the spaces and furniture are designed to be as comfortable as they are stylish, said Trause. The idea is not to have guests flowing quickly in and out, but to get the conversation flowing.
“Sometimes the adventure when you travel is just talking to someone new.”— Tommy Trause of Salt Lake City’s new Evo Hotel.
Photo credit: The All Together Skate Park at the Evo Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah. Source: Evo Hotel.