Staying Lokal in New Jersey.


I follow the Lokal Hotel people on Instagram.  I’m totally into what they are doing in Philly – how Courtney and Chad Ludeman grew their love of real estate and architecture and design into a boutique hotel business which is continuing to expand.  So anyway, there I am, starting at my Instagram feed, and all of a sudden I see that they are coming to… New Jersey.  They bought a place on 2.5 acres, 50 minutes out of Philly, where its wooded land fronting the Maurice River.

So, in the spirit of ihatenj, when I see people doing fun and new and cool things, I reach out.  I emailed them and asked to come for a visit and to see what they have going on.

And I really liked them.  Here’s a bit of background about Chad and Courtney.

Chad spoke about always wanting to do something for himself, to own his own company.  He has an engineering background and loves architecture and design and real estate.  Courtney comes from a finance background and subsequently got into real estate in Philadelphia.   So in 2008, they started Postgreen, a company which builds modern, sustainable homes.  Chad describes how he saw new people coming into the city and putting down roots while new businesses also started coming in – and how he witnesses a neighborhood transform.  It was all full of passion and super inspiring to hear him speak.  Anyway, getting into hospitality was something Chad + Courtney talked about for years. So then came Lokal Hotel – a place to stay inspired by how they like to travel – like a local.  There’s no front desk and there is “Invisible Service,” which enables guests to visit with just the right amount of interaction from staff.  And their Philly projects have continued, all with that same sensibility.

This NJ A-Frame is definitely an extension of that.

I went for a visit – 2 weeks into the renovation – and I could already feel the magic.

You know those families that you follow on Instagram that are doing amazingly cool things with their life that make you super jealous.  For me, its mostly people who quit their jobs and spend some time following the globe with their kiddos. Well, this visit was a bit of a real-life version of that for me.  I met Chad and Courtney and their 2 gorgeous boys who were living in a tent for the summer while fixing up a cabin.  The kids were happy and in tech withdrawal and were busy learning how to be beautifully bored.  And in general, their family and work life seemed wonderfully mixed and balanced and their life was their journey, full of risk and a desire to experience and live and build something from the ground up.  Living the dream and sorta like an Insta-fantasy come to life – probably not all true – but seemingly magical.

Chad and Courtney are now renovating an A-Frame cabin top to bottom in the middle of the woods with a path to a river.  While what I saw was very much a post-demo ‘before’ (see pics below), the outside is the original California redwood and this 3 bedroom home’s bones were all there.

Chad gave me a tour and spoke to their vision.  In my words.  Think of a quick drive getaway with modern but comfortable Scandinavian design with the curated aesthetic their brand is known for, a ridiculous chef’s kitchen, a green egg for BBQing, a hidden projector and big screen in the living room for cozy movie nights, vine tunnels with lights leading to an area with a fire pit and permanent seating that’s right on a river with an elevated dock with a boat where you can swim, fish and enjoy sunsets.  Amazingness.

It’ll be perfect for a couple of families where each couple gets a bedroom and the kids sleep downstairs.  Or a group of twenty-somethings who want to party in the woods.

It’ll be perfect for Philly or NYC people who want to get away.  Or nature + bird people who want to hike and do whatever birdwatchers do (evidently, it’s big in this area).

It’ll be perfect if you want to easily  relax for a couple days.  Or in between camping, head on over with a duffel and everything is already here.

It’ll be a professionally run vacation home, booked through the hotel website, as opposed to someone’s creepy vacation house with their personal belongings and ratty sheets.  It can be used year round.  Think boating and barbecues all summer long and cozy fires and blankets in the winter.  And as their son said, “a place where I can actually sleep in a bed.”  Ha.

I loved meeting them and seeing their project during the renovation.  I loved the experience of seeing something online I thought was cool and while I love travel and hospitality and design and renovations and all that good stuff, this is not my background and this was something new for me – and was so fun.  To visit with an unknown family and see their labor of love and to get inspired and see what they were working on and ask them a million questions and get a little glimpse into their world.

See before pics below.  And some more pics of their boys who happily showed me their current digs.  I can’t wait to visit again when the place is done.  So so so good, definitely not just good for Jersey.

Ciao and much thanks to Chad + Courtney for the visit and inspiration, Lauren xx

Lokal Hotel.  Instagram @stay_lokal









1 Comment

  1. Their story is so cool! It’s amazing how they turned their different educations and passions into a hospitality business, and even with all the construction it looks like it’ll be a magical place. Also really cool that you just went ahead, got in touch with them, and got to hear their stories for yourself.


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