Newmanager looking forward to summer rush

Published on Thu, May 13, 2004 by rent Cole

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New manager looking forward to summer rush

By Brent Cole

Gail Lundeen is no stranger to hostels, having spent years of her life traveling the world, staying in hostels along the way. When the opportunity arose to run the Birch Bay hostel, Gail jumped at the chance, even if it meant moving to a place she’d never been before.
The Birch Bay hostel is located on a former Air Force station, now Lions Camp Horizon Park and a short distance from the Birch Bay State Park. Unlike most others that exist in the middle of cities or areas with a lot of activity, the Birch Bay hostel is geared towards big groups looking for a great place to get away.

After raising a family in Salt Lake City, Lundeen entered the Peace Corp where she spent three years in Lesotho, an enclave completely enclosed by South Africa.

After her commitment to the Peace Corp had ended, the adventurous Gail began to travel Africa on her own, staying in hostels or living with families along the way.

Finally running out of money, Lundeen moved to Florida, plotting her next move. Eventually, she found the Birch Bay hostel position through a Peace Corps newsletter.

After accepting the job, at the Birch Bay hostel, Lundee made her way back up to the Northwest, a place she hadn’t been since a child and specifically to Birch Bay, an area she’d never visited.

The Birch Bay hostel has been without a full time manager for five years, but on April 15 the Birch Bay hostel was Gail’s to run. “It’s been open, but it didn’t have a manager. The hostel had a manager here for five years, but then he left. It was run by a couple of the residents who were staying long term,” said Lundeen.

After one of the residents who was taking care of the hostel left, the owners, the Birch Bay Lion’s Club, who run it in conjunction with the Whatcom County Parks, opted to find a full time manager who would not only run it, but help market it.

“They wanted someone to come in to manage and market it,” states Lundeen.

For those unfamiliar with hostel living, at the Birch Bay hostel, there are two rooms to each bathroom with no more than three beds to a room. This leads to a natural communication among visitors. Stated Gail, “There’s a communication that goes along in a hostel that doesn’t go on anywhere else.”

There is a three-day maximum stay at the hostel unless a person is living there due to employment reasons, when they can then stay for a full month. There are 14 rooms with 42 beds to accommodate all the travelers. The hostel also has family rooms.

Along with the rooms, there is a large common area; the reason bigger groups are attracted to the hostel. For example, this June there will be a huge soccer group staying at the hostel. Instead of putting kids in a hotel where to there isn’t a common area for them to hang out with each other; the hostel is perfect for the kids to all hang together.

Lundeen has modest expectations for her first summer at the hostel. “I hope, at the minimum, people who live in Birch Bay know we’re here. I hope to get the word out that we exist and that we’re available for summer stays. Then in the winter we’ll be available for seminars and workshops.”

The Birch Bay hostel is located at 7467 Gemini Street, just off of Alderson Street. Call 360/371-2180 for more details.