Rich Winnie at The Rome Lodge
The Rome Lodge Part 1
The Rome Lodge The Rome Lodge Diedamskopf group
There’s certain situations where you do things you normally wouldn’t do. Call it peer pressure, call it in the influence of a good bottle of wine, but it’s generally well-intentioned, if not a bit out of the ol’ comfort zone. When everyone is crowded around a massive table, laughing, yelling, putting back schnapps and getting more and more riled up every time six dice are tossed, clacking along the metal table top, it seems reasonable to inhale European chewing tobacco. Apparently, this is common practice for aging Austrian men who have likely lost their sense of smell. But for an unseasoned American, it is like snorting Vicks Vapor Rub, which is just about as sweet as it sounds. Rome’s Marketing Manager Grady Skelton was to my right. Riders Bjorn Leines and Gabor Abonyi were to my left. Across the table were Rome sales reps Derek Hale, John Graham, Rich Whinnie and Chris Piatek and all around were rowdy Europeans with very convincing faces. When the tin of snus was passed my way, I looked around at the crew and figured…when at The Rome Lodge. When you’re on a shred vacation in Austria, you don’t need much more reason than that to have a killer time. This spring, Rome opened the doors of paradisical snowboarding retreat The Rome Lodge for the second season in a row. In 2014, the initial reception of the six-week experience (broken into multiple-day sessions) for European shops was so positive that Rome brought the concept back, increasing their dedication to providing a tradeshow alternative that would allow shop owners, buyers, and staff to connect with the brand in a genuine way. The cement-floored, smoke-filled, hangover-heavy tradeshow atmosphere wasn’t doing anything to drive a truly worthwhile experience with new gear or with the ideology of the company and it’s simple: talking about snowboarding gear is way better when you actually get to ride it. So Rome founders Josh Reid, Paul Maravetz, and Sales Director Dan Sullivan partnered with Rome Europe’s Philipp Kamarerr and Maximilian Schulz to bring shops into the folds of their company by setting up a homebase a few hours drive from Rome Europe’s headquarters in Munich, Germany, just over the border in the Austrian Alps. photos: Mary Walsh
The Rome Lodge Sveti


"As we see the tradeshow cycle changing, the on snow and intimate nature of The Rome Lodge is a just better way of sharing what we’re all about. If the decision is between standing on cement with people or standing on snowboards with people, we pick standing on snowboards every time." - Maximilian Schulz, Rome Europe

The Rome Lodge The Rome Lodge Diedamskopf group
Schoppernau is a tiny hamlet at the base of the Diedamskopf resort in the western-most part of Austria. The one main street that runs through the town is dotted with farms and long-haired, rust-colored cows. Forested mountainsides rise straight up in backyards as the peaks recede behind one another, extending seemingly infinitely into the distance. There are no bars, no clubs, and no nightlife, which is one of the reasons that Rome decided to base The Lodge here where the focus can be on snowboarding, albeit with a healthy après experience at the chalet. “It’s an amazing mountain in a quiet town where the only nightlife goes down in our Lodge,” says Josh Reid. “We spend all the nights at our spot hanging out and having a great time together.” A session at The Rome Lodge lasts three days, and the routine is easy: wake up early for a traditional smorgasbord Austrian breakfast of meats, cheeses, jams, freshly baked bread, yogurts, and muesli. Gear up: tie your boots, grab your board and make the five-minute walk to the in-town gondola and head up the mountain. You’ll rise about 6,000 feet into incredibly majestic peaks and wide-open cat tracks far above treeline of Diedamskopf. There’s two weather patterns at the resort: daily powder resets and perfect spring conditions. Regardless of what Lodge session you join, you will get the goods. Change out your boards and bindings throughout the day to try any Rome product you desire and keep taking laps until the lifts stop turning and it is time to take the fifteen-minute long, tree-framed sidewinder trail to the bottom of the valley where more meat and cheese, sourced from local farms, is waiting to be devoured. My own history with Rome goes back to my first experiences in the snowboard industry. During college, I cold-emailed Rome’s rider council and asked if I could be a summer intern. I don’t think I even knew exactly what an intern did at the time, but fairly miraculously for me, the in house guys allowed me to routinely sit and work in what was at the time, essentially a one-room office shared by the whole staff. I stayed on as an intern for much longer than just that summer and throughout my tenure in the ranks of the company, I got to know a group of people who truly believed in what they were doing because of their deep passion for taking turns on their snowboards. As a green college student who watched Kingpin movies on repeat and was more than stoked to spend my afternoons weeding vinyl stickers, Rome was instrumental in showing me what it was like to be a part of the snowboard industry. Namely, it’s not a desk job at a snowboard company that you seek out, but rather a solution to an obsession with snowboarding that is only fulfilled by thinking about it all the time when you’re not strapped in and being around others who suffer from the same affliction.
The Rome Lodge The Rome Lodge Diedamskopf group
Of course since Rome’s beginning in 2001, they have consistently evolved, dialing in new products and marketing pushes with each passing season, but throughout the past fourteen years, their core values remain the same, structured by a non-bending DIY ethos to make turns in the best way possible on the best gear possible, literally by any means necessary, and to celebrate that and share it with those around them. The Rome Lodge is the incarnation of this ideology, with extra meat, cheese, and schnapps thrown in for good measure. To this end, the reasoning behind the creation of The Rome Lodge is simple: dedicate more quality time to retailers in a much more meaningful environment that allows for one-on-one product discussion—take snowboarding off the tradeshow floor and back to the mountains. “The idea for the Rome Lodge started in Zell am See in the winter of 2013,” states Rome co-founder Josh Reid. “We got together with some key German and Austrian shops at a resort called Schmitten to ride, eat and drink for a few days. As we drove away towards France after two days of riding powder and having a great time, we decided we wanted to expand this idea of an on-snow tradeshow to reach more people. Eventually, we decided to shift our traditional tradeshow budget to the six-week experience at The Rome Lodge and bring retailers from all over Europe to ride with us—because snowboarding is a lot more fun than tradeshowing.