Every successful business venture deserves an intriguing backstory. The founders and owners of Kinship Landing, the boutique hotel in downtown Colorado Springs, retain one of the most compelling entrepreneurial beginnings around.
Bobby and Brooke Mikulas and Nate Grimm kick off their hotelier story with ice climbing and Iceland, and it gets better from there. Ice. Just remember ice. And well, hospitality.
Coloradans Bobby, Brooke, and Nate became fast friends back in 2009 and started hosting other outdoorsy companions for an annual ice climbing pilgrimage to Ouray, Colo. On the drive, Bobby and Nate would excitedly banter about starting a business together.
With Bobby’s background in business management and Nate’s in finance, hotel management and hospitality, the friends enjoyed the camaraderie of brainstorming business enterprises. Brooke, with her expertise in nonprofit community development, added her own corporate acumen to the lively conversations.
Inspiration for the Local Experience
In the summer of 2016, Bobby, Brooke, Nate, and his fiancée Jenna, and a few other friends immersed themselves in a 10-day Iceland adventure. Together they reveled in the exhilarating outdoors, food, and culture of the down-to-earth Icelanders.
In one small coastal village, the Americans met a gregarious local woman in a coffee shop. That inviting chat led to her gift of hand-knit Icelandic sweaters and a fishing outing until 1 a.m. when the sun was just starting to set. Their hostess just happened to be the only female professional fisherwoman on the island.
“That experience really inspired us to create that type of local experience for others, whether they are new to Colorado Springs, a business traveler, or a tourist,” Nate explains of the hospitable mission of their 80-room hotel that opened in March 2021.
The Iceland trip was the send-off for Bobby and Brooke’s nearly yearlong quest of engaging in the lifestyles and experiences of people abroad. “When we got engaged, we started saving for this trip around the world that we planned to take before we had children,” Bobby explains. “We split meals, we did cheap date nights—we saved our pennies for years.”
Those saved pennies paid off in Bobby and Brooke taking time during their international journey to reflect and plan their future back in Colorado Springs. Criss-crossing 17 countries for rich, authentic connections with local residents, ignited the young couple’s passion to extend this same “outrageous hospitality” as they call it, to others back home in Colorado Springs.
Founded on Five Core Values
Bobby and Brooke reached out to Nate. He was already managing a Denver hotel. He didn’t want to launch a startup during his first year of marriage. Bobby and Brooke worked to win Nate over to their concept of starting out with a five-room hostel in the Mikulas house.
Nate recalls, “So, it’s the beginning of June 2017 and Jenna and I are on our honeymoon in this amazing tree house in the middle of the forest in Hawaii and we get a call from Brooke and Bobby saying, ‘We need your hospitality expertise. Will you please reconsider?’”
During that fortuitous phone call from the Mainland, newlywed Jenna took one look at Nate and said, “You’ll never know unless you try it.”
The partnership was sealed. Quickly the planning, research, and capital campaign expanded beyond an at-home hostel. From the get-go, the trio of entrepreneurs laid a foundation of five core values for their hotel: courage, trust, community, adventure and generosity. Every business relationship from vendors to employees must align with these values.
Finding a bank that modeled these core values and a kinship-type partnership proved a herculean challenge. The first-time hoteliers secured private and institutional investors, but struggled with construction overages and meeting with a bank that would collaborate with a startup and a hospitality venture. Then in 2020, COVID-19 pummeled the tourism and hotel industry. Kinship Landing was partially completed, but hit a critical financial juncture.
Full Circle of Kindness and Trust: Value When You Bank Local
Fortunately, the local Small Business Development Center recommended First National Bank Colorado and their SBA 504 small business loan through the Small Business Administration. First National Bank Colorado was no stranger to Bobby and Brooke who opened their first bank accounts with First National Bank of Monument as youth.
After high school graduation, Brooke traveled to Africa with $1,600 in her First National Bank of Monument account for the trip. But cyber criminals used a camera during an ATM withdrawal to steal Brooke’s pin number and all money from her account. “When I let the bank know what happened, they immediately replaced the $1,600 as a gesture of kindness,” Brooke explains. “So now working with First National Bank is full circle for me. The same kind of character that First National had then, translates to now.”
The banking relationship and full circle of kindness and making-things-right character has freed Bobby as the hotel’s Chief Executive Officer, Brooke as Chief Operating Officer and Nate as Chief Financial Officer to concentrate on moving their business forward as they determine.
“First National didn’t tell us how to manage our investor team or how to balance our budget. They trusted us to run the operations of our business,” Bobby explains. “That trust goes a really long way.”
Would the Kinship Landing owners recommend First National Bank Colorado to others? “Absolutely. I think banking has gone increasingly corporate and increasingly impersonal,” Bobby adds. “First National Bank Colorado is totally capable, responsive and timely, but we also feel like we are part of their family. We value the hometown banking feel with a level of expertise that we didn’t see in some of the other community banks.”
Both Kinship Landing and First National Bank Colorado (with seven Colorado locations) know their partnership is not just about money but about working together to better the community.
Hotel Designed for Travelers and Locals
One step inside the picturesque hotel with its European, minimalistic-style and you immediately sense the energy and kindred spirit of guests and staff. Designed with every traveler in mind, the hotel offers luxury suites and private rooms to hostel-style dorm accommodations. There’s even a balcony camp deck that fits tents for up to six adults and two kids under age two. These happy campers get an outdoorsy camping adventure without out the creepy crawlies and lumpy ground. Plus, there’s a private bathroom with shower and Bluetooth speaker system.
“Hospitality is in each of us to the bone,” Brooke shares about the owners’ passion for helping anyone from anywhere feel valued and welcomed at Kinship Landing. “We have been offered extravagant hospitality over and over in our own personal lives, and once you’ve tasted that kind of generosity, it’s impossible not to share it.”
Kinship Landing is an ideal place to launch the day and settle back in when the sun is dipping behind America’s Mountain. The ultra-comfortable hotel is a welcoming, homey spot to land and recount the day’s adventures.
For locals who want an airy, urban vibe for meeting up with friends or for a business meal, the all-day Homa Café + Bar is a must. Brooke’s Homa fave is the North Park Sandwich layered with roasted pork, caramelized onions, banana peppers and black garlic aioli. Bobby craves the North Park too, plus the Fried Cauli Bowl. Nate gives two thumbs up to the St. Ives Hand Pie brimming with braised short rib brisket and potato in a buttery, flaky crust.
Make Kinship Landing Your Own
The modern-urban hotel built with exploring in mind is an affordable thrill for fresh-air enthusiasts. You won’t find a workout room, pool, or spa. Instead hotel staff and a custom-made Discovery Table with maps, guides, and resource help guests map out the perfect Pikes Peak region adventure. Hiking. Rock climbing. Fly-fishing. Mountain biking.
“I love hiking, fishing, and lake kayaking. Really, anything that gets me outside into the crisp, fresh mountain air—I’m in!” Brook exclaims as she reminds people of the hotel’s vision. “Kinship Landing was designed for locals just as much as it was for travelers. This hotel is yours. It’s the community’s. Enjoy it, make it your own!”
Who knows, while guests and locals are making Kinship Landing their own, they may even catch Bobby, Brooke, or Nate at the lake or on the trail. Or, come winter in Ouray, all three energetic hoteliers ice climbing and sporting their comfy Icelandic sweaters.