Coworkers at The Fort in a workspace


The Fort in Mammoth Lakes, CA is pretty dang cool. With one location downtown and another on the mountain, it’s a perfect place for tourists and locals alike to get some work done. At The Fort, ski boots double as “work boots” and they even have a sparkling water dispenser. We asked co-owner, Ananda Ybarra, some questions about their space.

When did you open your coworking space and what enticed you to do so?

We opened our space in the spring of 2018 but we had been thinking about it for at least a couple years prior to that. Since we are in a rural area our internet access was excessively slow until the Digital 395 project was completed locally a few years ago, and that improvement to our infrastructure was the first time working remotely in Mammoth Lakes was truly viable. We are also a resort destination that is excessively busy on weekends and holidays, and not busy midweek most of the year. We wanted to not only foster a new workforce here locally but also provide a space for our visitors to have the option to work in an emergency or extend their visits knowing they can get their work done while out of the office.


Tell us about your space. How big is it? What kinds of amenities do you have? What sort of quirks make it special?

As part of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, we have two locations, one is at Main Lodge with views of the ski resort and about 1000 square feet, and one in downtown Mammoth Lakes, which is about 3700 square feet and the main hub for our regular members. We provide 24/7 access to our downtown location, coffee from a local shop, sparkling water, and some spaces where people can relax on a couch or play some ping pong. What makes us special is also one of our best amenities, we offer our members who sign up for a year membership an Ikon ski pass for the winter and bike park pass for the summer.


What is your favorite thing about operating a coworking space?

We love being able to provide a needed amenity that is appreciated by so many people. As a resort community situated between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Reno, we have a lot of members that don’t live locally and enjoy the flexibility to be able to work in an office-like space instead of their hotel room. We also allow local non-profits to use the space for meetings at no charge, providing a needed amenity in our community.

What’s truly special is seeing how our name is not just used to reference the actual space, but as a way to positively describe a type of person in the town (i.e. “Fort members” over “remote professional entrepreneur”), or as a moniker for a subsection of the town’s community. I don’t just work in a coworking space, I feel like I’m an ambassador for the culture our members create.


What has been the most surprising/unexpected thing about operating a coworking space?

The different types of businesses and people who end up using the space. Running a coworking space, you expect certain personalities to show up—those involved in marketing, management consulting, remote-professional-entrepreneur etc., but what’s amazing is how people in other lines of business have found a way to utilize the space. We have members who own a local catering company, develop VR software, Olympic athletes who are back in school and filmmakers editing their independent films all making the space work for them. It’s great to see people think outside the four-walls-and-high-speed-internet and realize the space is more than just an alternative to going to a coffee shop.


What’s your favorite story about one of your members?

Watching our members that come from different backgrounds and have completely different jobs not only form friendships but realize how each other’s expertise can work for them is always exciting. We have a member that owns a car detailing business who joined after attending one of our workshops open to the public. His business has grown since joining the Fort, and he credits it to the people here who he’s been able to interact with and ask advice from.

Also, since we do offer ski and bike park passes through our membership, we love hearing stories about people from different walks of life making plans over their morning coffee to get in a little outdoor activity together.


What is your biggest piece of advice for someone wanting to open a space?  

Don’t fret too much over all the amenities that you can offer. The community that you bring in the space and what you are creating is the biggest selling point, and that community vibe starts with you. Be open and flexible to the creative ideas your members have when it comes to activities or events you can host, and what the space can be. Whenever someone compliments the Fort, we usually say, “Thanks, but it’s really the members that make this space great. We have some really amazing people here… and yes, I’m also a big fan of the sparkling water dispenser.”


Coworkers working at personal and group desks at The Fort

The Fort room with games and plants

Couch and Fireplace at The Fort

Man with skis at The Fort