Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

July 7, 2013

Hostel on Horizon?

TRAVERSE CITY — Kristine Dietrich has done the research, developed a business plan and found an ideal place in hopes of opening something Traverse City doesn’t have — a hostel.

Hostels and “hostelling” long have been popular in Europe, other countries and increasingly along America’s Atlantic and Pacific coastlines. Michigan has only one — Hostel Detroit, an educational nonprofit that opened in April 2011 in Corktown, an old city neighborhood that has seen a recent wave of development from young entrepreneurs.

Friends cautioned Dietrich not to share her business idea for fear that someone would take it, but that doesn’t bother her.

“I just want to see a hostel in Traverse City,” she said. “The more the merrier. There’s a need here.

“Hostels aren’t money-making ventures, they’re ‘a community-good’ project,” she said.

Dietrich has dreamed of starting a hostel for 15 years.

It will remain a dream for a while longer because her plan, created in a 2012 Northwestern Michigan College small business entrepreneur class, hinges on a couple of details. The house she has in mind currently is not for sale and she needs to find full-time employment. She now teaches Spanish for Northwestern Michigan College’s extended education Lifelong Learning program. She is certified to also teach English, history and English as a Second Language.

Dietrich became a fan of hostels years ago while studying, traveling and working in Europe and Mexico and teaching English, Spanish and history. Her parents have lived in Northport since the 1980s, and she’s lived in Traverse City full time for 13 years.

“If you go to a hotel, the purpose is to rest and relax,” she said. “At a hostel the purpose is to connect with other people. Hostellers want to learn about the place where they are staying and also learn about the lives of other guests.”

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