Around 2007, my team and I rented a large campground in West Virginia for Sat Nam Fest, a yoga & music festival. We called it Spirit Fest back then. The camp was beautiful but run down and poorly managed. Prior to the first meal, the property owner came to us and said pay $3,000 more than we agreed, or I am not serving you the menu we discussed. I was young and naive and afraid that my first major event would end in disaster. He didn’t care. I negotiated and agreed to pay $1,750 more.
The experience left me with a searing impression. If the operator could build a facility with poor customer service, organization, maintenance and ethics, just imagine what would happen with efficiency, legendary customer service and an obsession with quality. It left me with the thought that one day I would do it better.
But building in America is tough. It’s expensive. There is little room to learn as you go. So we landed in Mexico first. We built Casa Om. It was named after Siri Om. It was going to be like her. It was unpretentious. It was beautiful. It was a real yoga place. It has grown into a super successful project. Please see our Trip Advisor reviews from Casa Om for a sense of our hospitality approach.
Still the memory lingered. We had karma left in West Virginia. And my karma seems to always take me through India.
It’s hard to know which ideas come first. It’s hard to know how many ideas converging together make a good idea. But good ideas have lots of legs to stand on. That’s how I knew my thinking was good.
There were easier ways to get back to India. The easy ways are crowded though.
I wanted to go back to India. That was first. I wanted to build a West Virginia retreat center. I think that was second. I wanted to show people India the way I like India. That was third.
I wanted to go to the factories that make all the nice India style furniture. That was fourth. I wanted to show my daughter India. That was fifth.
So I had all these ideas but I couldn’t really do just one of them. They wouldn’t have worked on their own.
So I did them all. It took time. It was hard. But the end products were so much better. They had purpose. They had vision. They had layers.
Eight months in advance, we planned the India trip. Two weeks before we left, we bought the fixer upper that would become Casa Om Potomac. Then we set off. We went to New York and picked up Jared & Tony. And with a stop in Moscow, we headed for Hindustan. We took 25 people with us through Rishikesh, Amritsar, Dharamsala, Delhi and Agra. I showed them all the places I loved to explore when I was a kid. We meditated with monks, stretched with swamis, chanted kirtan with masters. We explored the spiritual sites from Sikhism, Buddhism and Hinduism. It was epic. It could have been the trip of a lifetime.
They left. Our next job began. We went to Jodhpur. We rode horses and camels and explored old fortresses. But mostly we went shopping. We came back from India with full suitcases and a shipping container to follow. Then we got to work.
We did demolotion and tear outs. We did painting and drywall. We did road building and deck making. We built a building. We dreamed big dreams at night and hustled all day. We offered blood, sweat and tears to the project. We prayed… hard. We got cheated a few times. We battled torrential rains, super hot days and later wind and the frigid cold. But mostly we made new friends. We watched the river. We hiked and practiced yoga and sat by the fire. Ten months later, we opened. And now the Casa Om Potomac story begins.