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Portland's Jupiter Hotel Capitalizes On Community Inclusion

Breaking into the hotel business isn’t easy, but Jupiter Hotels founder Kelsey Bunker found a strategy that worked. She launched her two-property boutique hotel brand in Portland in 2004 with less of a business formula and more of an instinct.

Jupiter Hotel rooms are modern and trendy.

Her first Jupiter Hotel was created from a former mid-20th century motor inn. The design reflected her vision of what a hotel should be.

It is fun and friendly, with the buildings wrapping around an outdoor terrace that invites conversation and socializing. Its decor is chic and modern. It welcomes the entire community and all walks of life, including the LGBTQ community, the cannabis crowd and even Buddhist nuns, Bunker said. The hotel welcomes these groups' functions, and also reaches out to them through business partnerships. Meeting rooms are open to the public.

Bunker will share her insights at Bisnow’s 2019 Pacific Northwest Hotel Summit Feb. 12.

From the start, Bunker knew that community and inclusion were important, especially to thrive in the industrial Eastside Portland community, which is less of a hospitality hub than elsewhere.

In 2004, the LGBTQ community was yet to be embraced by the hospitality industry, she said. Jupiter Hotel made a point of reaching out to welcome those in the community to the hotel.

Today, cannabis shares a similar stigma.

“Cannabis is huge,” she said. “And it’s legal. We have always been willing to embrace the outliers.”

In this city, diversity pays off big.

The Jupiter NEXT has space that can be used by the community. Guests appreciate mingling with the locals during their stay.

“We are really true to who we are,” Bunker said. “There’s a certain resonance that goes out into the world and people identify with that. We need to know what we want to present to the world, and let people decide whether that’s something they want to experience.”

Fourteen years after launching Jupiter, Bunker opened her second hotel, called Jupiter NEXT, in the more upscale neighborhood of Lower Burnside. Jupiter NEXT is a 67-room property that reflects Bunker’s current, more mature tastes.

Not only is Jupiter NEXT in a more posh part of Portland, its rooms are slightly more luxurious than the original Jupiter's decor. The original Jupiter is cool, but sparse. Jupiter NEXT has more comfort, even better views and higher-quality finishes.

Her first hotel was a reflection of where she would like to stay in 2004. The newest version of the brand reflects where she would like to visit today.

Though slightly more sophisticated, Jupiter NEXT still embraces the community.

“One of the biggest things to me is a sense of community,” she said. “Our success has been driven by the community. When you’re traveling, it is always pleasing to meet the locals. It’s like you’re getting some insider information about the best watering hole or place to visit. We’ve made a lot of partnerships to facilitate that. We are becoming more of a hub.”

Hear from Bunker and other hospitality experts at Bisnow's 2019 Pacific Northwest Hotel Summit Feb. 12 at the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle.