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The Go List

Meet the World’s Most Badass Hotel Owners

What does it take to make the list? Being a winter Olympian, Tour de France rider, or world-class climber helps.

When he retired in 2012 after 19 years as a professional cyclist, George Hincapie decided to open a hotel inspired by his European travels. (Cerveny Michal/CTK via AP)
Photo: Cerveny Michal/CTK via AP South Africa

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What does it take to make the list? Being a winter Olympian, Tour de France rider, or world-class climber helps.

Picture this: You head into your bed-and-breakfast, lodge, or hotel, primed for an adventurous getaway in a bucket-list locale, and the owner who checks you in is literally the coolest person you’ve ever met. Not only do they help point you toward the area’s buffest singletrack or most-coveted powder stashes, they can also send them harder than you. If that sounds like your ideal host, here are some spots where your hotelier is just as great as the room itself.

George Hincapie

Hotel Domestique

Travelers Rest, South Carolina

When he retired in 2012 after 19 years as a professional cyclist, Hincapie, a key team member for Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, and Cadel Evans’s Tour de France wins, decided to open an American hotel inspired by his European travels. The result is Hotel Domestique, set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Old World–style retreat has a fleet of high-end road bikes for rent, an on-site bike mechanic, yoga classes, and a saltwater pool. Plus the staff can create a custom riding route for you, or you can sign up for a group ride with a local pro, including, on occasion, Hincapie himself. (From $379)

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Hans and Nancy Johnstone

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(Courtesy Alpine House)

Alpine House Lodge and Cottages

Jackson, Wyoming

The chef-prepared, European-style breakfast at the Alpine House, located near Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, is legendary. But the hosts of this upscale B&B are even more so: both are former winter Olympians. Nancy was a member of the U.S. Biathlon team, competed in the 1992 Games, and later became a North American ski-mountaineering champion. Hans is a guide for Exum Mountain Guides, has notched many first ski descents in the Tetons, and in a former life competed as a nordic skier in the 1988 Olympics. In 1994, they built Alpine House and continue to run it today. Be sure to sign up for a guided ski tour or climb. (From $175)

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Jeremy Grasby

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(Courtesy Riding Fool/Steve Shannon)

The Riding Fool Hostel

Cumberland, British Columbia

If you’re planning a road- or mountain-biking trip to Vancouver Island, stay at the Riding Fool Hostel, 133 miles north or Victoria. Owner Jeremy Grasby is an avid mountain biker, trail builder, and local race director. No wonder the hostel he opened in 2003 on the site of a former hardware store comes with a bike-wash station, bike storage, guided rides, and even a repair shop. You’ll have access to a communal kitchen and common room, and you can choose between bunks in a shared room (from $21) or a private room all to yourself (from $51).

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Casey Scieszka

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(Courtesy Spruceton Inn/Natalie Chitwood)

Spruceton Inn

West Kill, New York

Scieszka, a Brooklyn native, spent years traveling the world as a freelance writer and graphic designer, living in places like Beijing; Fez, Morocco; and Timbuktu, Mali. Then in 2013, she moved to New York’s Catskills and decided to open a guesthouse with her husband, the skier, fly-fisherman, and children’s book author Steven Weinberg. Their nine-room Spruceton Inn has a small bar that serves cocktails and craft beer, plus they provide s’more fixings for the fire pits scattered around the eight-acre property. There’s plenty of hiking in the surrounding 700,000-acre Catskill Park and skiing at nearby Hunter Mountain. In addition to short-stay guests, the inn also hosts resident artists and events ranging from beginner fly-fishing clinics to writing seminars. (From $99)

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Tiger and Judi Jacobi

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(Courtesy Tailwind Jungle Lodge)

Tailwind Jungle Lodge

San Pancho, Mexico

In 2005, when this family of Vermonters found the perfect piece of land in the jungle above the sleepy beach town of San Pancho, Mexico, a sleepy beach town 30 minutes north of Sayulita, they set about constructing the Tailwind Jungle Lodge. The guesthouse offers thatched-roof casitas with ocean views, yoga retreats, guided kayaking, and sailing and surfing adventures, all with a minimalist environmental footprint in mind. The Jacobi’s daughter, Tamara, an author and the lodge manager, their son-in-law Walter Wright, a sailing captain and sustainability expert, and son Rhett, a tiny-home builder and surf guide, help run the place and are as cool as their parents. Head out the door and hike a five-mile trail that winds through mango and avocado trees and an orchid plantation, or an uncrowded beach is walking distance away. (From $80)

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Thor Fenwick

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(Courtesy Sugar Loaf Lodge)

Sugar Loaf Lodge

Sedona, Arizona

If you’re visiting the mountain-biking mecca of Sedona to ride, post up at the 15-room lodge. Fenwick, whose wife’s family has owned the property since 1986, is its manager and rides every day, making him the perfect source for local beta. There are also three trailheads within a mile of the property, and Fenwick has been known to take guests out for a spin. Sugar Loaf permits bikes and dogs in select rooms, has a bike-cleaning station, and provides a tire pump, chain lube, and free breakfast. There’s a pool, barbecue, hot tub, and fire pit on-site, too. (From $84)

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Asa Firestone

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A-Lodge owners Asa Firestone (right) and Kris Klauber (Courtesy A-Lodge)

A-Lodge

Boulder, Colorado

Firestone, a climber and entrepreneur, and his friend Kris Klauber, a former brewery manager, own and operate Boulder’s beloved A-Lodge. Located less than ten minutes from town, up scenic Boulder Canyon, and 30 minutes from the Eldora ski area, its recently renovated lobby now includes a proper bar, and you can reserve a bunk, private room, cabin, or spot to pitch your tent or park your van. The front-desk staff will help you book guided adventures, like rock climbing, backcountry skiing, and fly-fishing. You can even send Firestone and Klauber a text if you’re out exploring during your stay and need quick info. Pro tip: in the summer, they show movies on a huge outdoor screen on the lawn. (Bunks from $39; rooms from $99)

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Ali Pitcher and Tommy Dott

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(Courtesy Lamb and Lion Inn)

Lamb and Lion Inn

Barnstable, Massachusetts

Part B&B, so you can eat breakfast whenever you’d like, and part cozy inn, the Lamb and Lion is run by eclectic, dog-loving owners—Pitcher, a personal trainer and animal-rescue advocate, and Dott, a life coach, food writer, Elvis impersonator, and spin instructor at an indoor cycling gym two minutes away. Set on a four-acre property in Cape Cod Bay, the inn has a wellness studio with private yoga classes and guest rooms with wood-burning fireplaces, or you can stay in the property’s converted horse stable or a renovated barn first built in 1740. Bring your pup, and Pitcher and Dott will point you toward the cape’s best dog-friendly beaches and trails. (From $199)

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Filed To: Boulder / Yoga / Arizona / Biking / Fishing / Athletes