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Life and Work with Shantel Seoane

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shantel Seoane.

Shantel and Rami have been married since 2006. All these years, they shared a dream of creating a model based on principles of sustainability, minimalist living, and responsible business. A lot of the inspiration behind this vision came from their many years working in the ecotourism and hospitality sector abroad. They had the opportunity to visit some of the most bio-diverse and pristine destinations on the planet while learning about sustainable tourism models and environmental conservation.

The more they learned, the more they became concerned about the devastating impacts that unsustainable human activity continues to have on the natural world. Everything from shark finning, plastic pollution, deforestation, water contamination to habitat destruction all over the world.

They started to get involved in environmental activism and supporting different initiatives and campaigns towards environmental conservation. They also began to embrace a minimalist lifestyle over the last few years, with the understanding that a lot of what’s driving these problems are some of our current consumer trends and culture of materialism.

This amalgamation of their lifestyle, passion for nature and business approach ultimately became Alter Experiences LLC. It is the result of an ever-evolving dream, very different from the busy modern day world. It’s a vision of a simpler place where life is basic, beautiful & in resonance with nature.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Our first two years were very difficult. There are a lot of days when you despair and try really hard not to lose hope. More days than I’d like to admit. You start questioning yourself and if you’re really cut out for entrepreneurship. A friend once told me that being an entrepreneur is quieting the 9-5 to work the 5-9.

Not only were we starting a new business in a very remote location of the county, but we were also introducing a completely new hospitality model in a destination with a very traditional hospitality approach. We didn’t realize it at first, but we were creating a new hybrid combining high-end hospitality & a new way of camping.

It took us about two years to fine-tune the model & find the right locations. It was a phase of a lot of R&D. What equipment works best and withstands the elements.? Our site is in the high mountains of San Diego’s backcountry at elevations of 6,000+ ft. It’s never easy dealing with nature and the elements. Can we run a winter operation in the rain and snow at these altitudes? We had a few days up here this last February with up to 2 feet of snow at Laguna Mountain. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration to deliver this one of a kind nature immersive experience.

We faced a lot of hurdles, unforeseen obstacles, and rejection of the idea with entities like the State Park and almost everyone we approached. I think people were very skeptical about the idea at first but lucky for us, US Forestry Service had started picking up on some of these new outdoor hospitality trends, which are popping up all over the country. They decided to take a chance on us and the rest is history, as they say.

We’ve come a very long way in a short time. We still face daily challenges. It’s definitely put pressure on our relationship and we have our ups and downs. But what I can tell you is that there is a tipping point, if you can persevere and have the conviction to follow through with your dreams. That’s the point where your brand takes hold and starts a perpetual motion of growth and success. That’s when you start living life on your own terms and nothing is more satisfying than that.

Please tell us about Alter Experiences.
Alter Experiences LLC is an outdoor hospitality movement based in the high mountains of San Diego’s backcountry. We’re dedicated to creating meaningful experiences in nature & encouraging sustainable tourism development globally.

We currently manage several sites in Cleveland National Forest (Laguna Mountain), Julian & near Lake Cuyamaca.

Our primary sites are nestled in the high mountain forests of San Diego’s backcountry – sky islands where pristine nature and wildlife thrive. These are some of the most remote and biologically diverse habitats in all of Southern California that include many open space preserves, National Forest Lands and State Parks.

Each one of our sites is handpicked to offer you a true nature immersive experience. We strive to create the most comfortable outdoor experience possible, even at our most remote locations. We take all that’s fun about traditional camping & combine it with modern comfort & state of the art equipment. The result is an outdoor & nature immersive experience unlike any other.

We offer various accommodation styles depending on location. Our Tentsile tree tents are definitely the most popular – a lightweight tree house that uses three anchor points to create a “living space” suspended between trees. Our elevated tree tents bring a whole new dimension to the traditional camping experience.

Our plush & cozy bell tent was designed with the ultimate comfort in mind! It features all the amenities you can expect at a hotel. We’re redefining the hospitality experience and setting new and exciting tourism trends in San Diego!

Who have you been inspired by?
First and foremost is my mother Ana Ruby. She’s been my guardian angel. She believed in us from day one and supported our business in so many capacities. There is no love like that of a mother. I love Oprah Winfrey and how she grew up from humble upbringings, to become one of the most recognized women of our time. Malala Yousafzai was another huge inspiration on me and women who defied all odds and risked her life for the sake of education.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Carson Davis Brown

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