LUCAS — The Malabar Farm Hostel’s future may be in jeopardy.
“There’s reason to believe the national board might decide to close it,” Jordan said. “To save this hostel, we are going to need to demonstrate community support.
“A large number of responses, passionate responses, will demonstrate how this hostel has impacted this area.”
The Malabar Farm Hostel’s most recent five-year lease with Malabar Farm State Park will end Nov. 30, unless the Hostelling International USA board votes to start a new lease at its Sept. 16 meeting.
Korre Boyer, Farm Park Manager, hopes the hostel will stay.
“It’s up to them, Hosteling International, if they will renew a lease,” Boyer said. “We’d be happy to renew a lease with them.”
The hostel was established in 1979. It’s current lease dates back to 2007 and was renewed in 2012.
Jordan believes a letter-writing campaign is the key to the hostel’s future.
“We need letters of support, and even though the board meeting is not until Sept. 16, we want the letters soon, so that we can enlist more support as our report moves up the chain of command within Hostelling International,” he wrote in a Facebook post, which had more than 80 shares within an hour.
Jordan asked people to send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org or HI-Malabar Farm, 3954 Bromfield Rd, Lucas Ohio, 44843 by noon Thursday, July 20, so he can present them to the division vice president.
“If people write letters after that we’ll still be able add them to the stack,” Jordan said.
He asks people to mention the hostel’s community support, special events and its fulfillment of Hostelling International’s mission.
Jordan expects the letters will eventually reach company CEO, Russ Hedge, and the board of directors.
The Malabar Farm Hostel isn’t like most hostels.
“Many of our (Hostelling International’s) hostels are in big cities or on the coasts,” Jordan said. “We’re a small hostel with a small number of guests per year.”
The quaint Lucas hostel serves about 500 overnight guests every year from March to October. Most are visiting from other parts of Ohio.
People can rent a bed for $25 per night and a family room, which sleeps up to six people costs $95. Private rooms are also available starting at $35.
“It was not designed to make money,” Jordan said.
He explained that one Hostelling International location at Martha’s Vineyard attracts 3,000 guests in only a few months, which he knows isn’t possible for the small Midwestern location he manages.
“I can’t compete with a busy hostel with the number overnight stays,” he said.
Instead, he focuses on community engagement. Last year, the total number of overnight guests was less than 500, but the hostel’s 40 events involved 517 people. About 140 were guests with overnight plans and the rest were community members.
Events include house concerts, storytelling get-togethers around a fire and community gatherings.
“One of the programming events that I am most proud of is the writers’ retreats,” Jordan said.
The Ohio Poetry Association hosts semi-annual events at the Malabar Hostel.
A writer, himself, Jordan has authored a series of historical dramas related to the Malabar Farm.
The Malabar Farm has become his home. Jordan has lived on the farm since he began managing what he calls the “do-it-yourself bed and breakfast” in 2010. He was active at the state park for about a decade prior to this.
If the hostel were to close, he worries that the building could be demolished. Other hostels are located within Ohio, but none are owned by Hostelling International.
“It would be very difficult for me (to leave.) I am very connected to Malabar Farm with the amount of writing I’ve done and working here and living here,” Jordan said. “I would sure hate to have to leave this place.”