An Artificial Beach

The point has already arrived in the year where I drive to work in the dark and come home in the dark. I know depravation of sunlight really impacts people but fortunately for me, it doesn’t mess with my mental health. However, do I prefer the light to the dark? Of course.

Driving to work this morning, I thought about an interesting business venture that developed in Missoula, Montana, over six years ago. For those who are unaware, winters in Montana are long and bitter. Not only are the days gray and the nights dark, but the whole climate itself will wear on you unless you love freezing cold, howling wind, and loads of snow.

Needless to say, if you live in Montana you will really start to crave the sun and some cheerful weather during the winter. Looking to capitalize on this desire that many Montanans had, including myself, an extremely unique business opened up in Missoula around 2010. It was called Staycations.

Built to cater to both Seasonal Affective Disorder sufferers and those people who just wanted to get out of the ugliness, Staycations was a pretty innovative place. You would enter inside the doors to a lobby area. Then, when it was your turn, you would stroll inside to one of the several rooms that waited past the front desk. You would then open the door and walk into an island oasis.

Each room was overflowing with white beach sand. Matching the color of the sand was one of those “happy lights” that transmits magnificent bright white light. A large television displayed ocean and tropical scenes. Sounds of the sea radiated throughout the area. A lounge chair was available to sprawl out on. As you can imagine, it was a very welcoming scene to walk into.

Here in Myrtle Beach we definitely take the ocean for granted. People desire so much for what we have in our backyard that they do all they can to replicate it inside rooms in landlocked geographical areas.

But don’t knock the attempt until you have lived in Missoula. I thought it was the greatest idea ever. I paid a visit to Staycations once. I believe I had some type of a promo card (if I remember correctly you paid by the half hour) and was able to spend 30 minutes inside one of the rooms. It was an interesting experience.

However, I never returned and I don’t know if Missoula ever really got on board. Staycations didn’t stay in business long.

Despite the lack of success, I stand by my belief that in theory it was an incredible idea. Perhaps the premise could be revived somewhere else. I thank my morning commute to campus for making me think of something that had not entered my head for over a half of a decade. Don’t Blink.

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