Back when Amaury Perez worked for a corporate information technology company, business travel took him all over the country.
Over time, the endless succession of hotel rooms in different cities started to wear him down.
“There was a couple years there where I was on the road 100 percent of the time,” Perez said. “When you get to the point where you wake up in the morning and you don’t know where the light switch is, it really sinks in that that’s not the best thing for your health.”
Perez had moved to Colorado Springs in 2009, but he’d hardly spent any time in the city. In 2014, after finishing up with a project in San Antonio, Perez told his employers that he was emotionally run-down from all the travel, and needed to scale back and put down some roots.
That April, Perez purchased the property that has since become the Ivywild Lodge — a longterm rental complex with eight residential units in two buildings in the Ivywild neighborhood.
Perez has renovated the units one by one, living in whichever unit he’s renovating at the time, and doing most of the work himself.
Mostly self-taught, he’s done everything from painting and breaking down concrete to renovating entire bathrooms.
“What I can’t really do, I hire out to a subcontractor. But I’m quarterbacking the whole thing,” he said.
“I’m single threaded with all this, so it’s been challenging. But it’s also offered me the opportunity — now that I don’t do full-time business process work — to focus a lot more of my time to this.
“And at the end of the day, these are technically my homes. So I always feel like it’s my job to make sure that these guests have a good experience. It’s a reflection of who I am as a person.”
When he bought the lodge, Perez managed and maintained it alongside his full-time corporate career. But in May 2019 he decided to focus all his efforts on the lodge.
Perez said the business is not tailored to casual travelers and typically rents to professionals and those with pets.
The units are fully furnished and “catered toward corporate individuals,” with minimum stays of 30 days. Many guests stay longer — some as long as two years.
“It’s people that are out here working that don’t have the budget and framework to get into a lease and then have to worry about getting furniture and paying the bills. And with it being 2020, now there’s going to be changes to travel. So I’m really fortunate to be able to support the people that do travel,” he said.
While Perez knows he could likely make more money by moving to a short-term model, he said it’s not the money that motivates him.
“I could easily flip the switch and go back to the three-day minimum and charge ridiculous amounts of money, but I’m not in it for that. I’m a [military veteran]; I just want to be happy. So I just know that there’s that subgroup of human out there that needs a tranquil space, so that’s who I tailor to.”
One of those sub-groups is traveling health care professionals, from general medical staff and respiratory technicians to nurses.
With nearly 50 percent of his guests falling into that category, Perez said he feels called to help, as health care workers face sweeping challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
He’s created a donation program that allows people to buy gift cards to help pay for medical workers’ housing at the lodge. He said he hopes the program can help alleviate some of the stress they’re experiencing.
Cards can be purchased for between $20 and $1,400 at ivywildlodge.com under the “Make a Reservation” tab; the funds are distributed evenly across the health care workers.
Perez said it costs about $1,360 to house a health care professional for 30 days.
His current goal is to raise four times that amount.
“I feel like it’s my duty to try and help more of these individuals that are helping us, and shine a light on this subgroup of professionals that go into hospitals and … are sort of risking their lives,” Perez said.
“They’re here supporting our community and therefore we should support them as best as possible.”