At one point or another, many of us have elected to holiday in a cannabis friendly location. Not only did we want to incorporate the amenities that these locations had to offer, but we were looking for a holiday that would provide the ability to openly enjoy cannabis. For some, this was a recreational choice, where as with others, this was a medical requirement. As the recreational and medical cannabis market has opened up over the last number of years, and across several different countries, we don’t have to stray any further than our own country to legally use cannabis – recreational, medicinal, or both. The fact that we can enjoy cannabis is only part of the equation. Often the bigger issue being where can we enjoy it? To be forced to smoke or vaporize outside can not only be humiliating, but in Canada we have to bear the volatile weather. We all know what Canadian winters can be like. Thanks to Wendy Forwell of Cannabis Hotels, smoking/vaporizing cannabis huddled in the back alley of a hotel, or resort is becoming a thing of the past.
“For many travelers it is that they need it when they are travelling. It is medicine for them”Wendy Forwell – Cannabis Hotels
How The Idea Was Born
Cannabis Hotels was born on the idea of having a one stop curated list of cannabis friendly businesses. As Forwell explains “We were sitting on the porch up at our cottage, and there were about 6 other couples there, and they are all consumers and we were talking about vacations and that is where the idea came up.” According to Forwell the couples discussed the differences in vacations where they could use cannabis versus vacations where they couldn’t. Then there are those travelers that aren’t recreational users, but have the need to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. As Forwell puts it “For many travelers it is that they need it when they are travelling. It is medicine for them.”
Cannabis Legislation is Changing Business Models
The legal cannabis industry is causing many businesses (old and new) to rethink their operating models to accommodate legislation shifts relating to cannabis. You don’t have to look any further than the hotel industry to see how cannabis can impact travel accommodation. Take for example Ontario hotels/motels which surprisingly permit smoking cannabis in designated smoking rooms if you are a guest or invited by a guest of the hotel. Forwell was quite emphatic however to explain that Cannabis Hotels is less about hotels, and more about the cannabis experiences. “If you take for example somewhere like Sir Sam’s, which was our first Ontario, Canada resort/hotel that said yes we want to go ahead and be open about the fact that we are going to move in the cannabis/wellness retreat type environment for the hotel. That is more of an experience. Whether it be wellness, or what you are doing while you are consuming on site. They may have yoga classes where it is enhanced yoga, so you are consuming before you are going into the class, and you are doing that in an area outside. It could be that you are going to go into a wellness class or seminar while you are there, and they set these up as retreat weekends. You could go anytime – for a lot of consumers it is just a matter of knowing that it (cannabis) is welcome at that location.”
“It is not just the hotels – we have the tours, we have the events, we have restaurants “Wendy Forwell – Cannabis Hotels
Travelling is already stressful enough when one has to consider booking accommodations, excursions, and possibly airfare and car rental. Now there is the added complexity of incorporating cannabis friendly locations into that mix. For a consumer, they want to enjoy cannabis the same way someone else would enjoy a Piña Colada or a glass of wine. They want to be able to go to sit outside on their patio and consume without any judgement. This is where the advent of booking sites have created mechanisms to filter our search criteria(s) when booking travel. However, despite the name “Cannabis Hotels”, Forwell wants to make it clear, this is not a booking site. “We are not a booking platform. Unlike Airbnb for example, where you find where you want to go, book it through their site and Airbnb takes a percentage, we are not going to work in that model. Speaking to many of these smaller boutique hotels, they have a lot of difficulty with what they are paying out to the large organizations. (The big chains) can pay it, but a little BnB that is up in Bancroft, and are paying 20% off the top, it is hard for them, and a lot of them don’t want to do it.” What Cannabis Hotels does do is curate a database of cannabis friendly hospitality businesses into one spot, and allow booking directly through the link of that business. It was a natural fit to start with the hotel industry as well as incorporate the name Cannabis and Hotels into their name – a perfect name for search engine optimization. Forwell explains, “It is not just the hotels – we have the tours, we have the events, we have restaurants – really encompassing everything. We chose the name knowing if you are searching for a hotel you are going to put the word cannabis in and look for cannabis hotels and go from there.”
You Are Free To Roam The World
As the popularity of cannabis tourism grows both in Canada and abroad, there will be businesses that will want to capture and cater to that market. Having a dedicated site to allow for these businesses to promote their offering, and link to their own reservations systems will simplify the travel process. Forwell in the meantime is being contacted from countries around the world looking to promote their cannabis friendly businesses. As it turned out, shortly after our meeting Forwell was heading to Jamaica to meet with several businesses that wanted to get involved in the cannabis tourism industry. Am I the only one that finds a funny irony in the fact that Jamaica wants to get into the cannabis tourism business? Were they not one of the forerunners in that market for years? Forwell elaborates “Now instead of the guy on the beach handing it to you, it is becoming the 5 star locations, or the boutique hotels that are changing their approach. Some of them have actually developed their own processing locations legalized for medicinal use. There is a new facility in Negril that is the only legal dispensary in Negril. It is an actual doctor from the US that has opened this place up. He has partnered with one of the processing and growth facilities there. They have doctors, they have cancer specialists, and they have nuro-scientists there. This is for true medical wellness and they have a resort right there that you can actually physically stay while you are getting treatment. I think that the whole wellness portion of cannabis and travel is going to become quite extensive, especially for people coming out of countries where they cannot access it. “
In Canada we have the unique privilege to have accessibility to cannabis for both recreational, and medical use. We will continue to see cannabis tourism grow in our country as services like Cannabis Hotels help to curate cannabis friendly accommodation and experiences. This will not only serve a faction of the population that seeks the recreational cannabis experience, but will allow access to those who have been prohibited from traveling due to chronic conditions only treatable with cannabis use. Opening up the world for cannabis patients to experience was at one time limited to only a few locations such as Amsterdam or Jamaica. Thanks to companies like Cannabis Hotels, patients can now see what many of us have already had the opportunity to see – a world of diversity, culture and beauty.