Sincerely, BLLA

An Interview with Rafael Museri

The CEO & Co-Founder of Selina speaks his truth on boutique hotel investment. BLLA: How did you come to enter the hospitality industry? RM: “...

The CEO & Co-Founder of Selina speaks his truth on boutique hotel investment.

BLLA: How did you come to enter the hospitality industry?

RM: “In 2014, Daniel and I identified that there was a gap in the market, as there was no product that combined the social aspect of a hostel with the design and authenticity of a boutique hotel. Our idea was to create a place that offered a range of experiences, but mainly a place where guests and locals felt inspired to create authentic and meaningful connections.

“To test our idea, we created the first Selina hotel in Panama in 2015. In 90 days, we leased and converted an underutilized hotel, transitioning it into a community-based, programming first, economically viable hotel option that quickly became the most relevant hotel in the region. We learned then and there how massive the demand was for an experience-focused hospitality product, and the rest is history.”

BLLA: What does boutique mean to you?

RM: “For me, boutique means a one-of-a-kind space with a thoughtful design. A non cookie-cutter hotel. However, a great boutique goes one step above and fuses the unique identity and spirit of its neighborhood into its design.

“When Daniel and I were traveling the world, we stayed at more than 140 hotels, hostels, short rentals, and boutique hotels. One thing that has always stuck with us is the incredible design and thoughtfulness that these boutique hotels offered. We quickly understood that if we wanted to deliver a relevant product, design and art were things that needed to be incorporated into the DNA of each of the properties. For me, it is this boutique aspect that injects energy into the hotel, and together with the right programming, these spaces are truly brought to life.”

BLLA: How would you define the word “luxury” in the hospitality industry?

RM: “The word luxury is very subjective, as it means different things to different people. For us at Selina, an authentic, engaged, and connected community is luxury and what we strive to deliver at all of our 150+ locations worldwide.”

BLLA: What are the top three trends that you see in the boutique hotel investment space?

RM: “1.) Coworking: Hotels need to ensure that they have warm and welcoming space to accommodate the coworking needs of the growing remote worker segment. By providing this space, not only are you meeting a key need for this market, but you give yourself a great opportunity for revenue growth… more people onsite means more opportunity for incremental revenue. 

“2.) Driving authentic experiences… A recent survey showed that 86% of millennials travel to experience new cultures. In order to be relevant to this up-and-coming segment, hotels need to make sure they are providing their guests authentic and local experiences onsite.

“3.) Fostering Connections: We know that 70% of this same travel segment (Millennial / Gen Z) say that they feel lonely. Hotels are in such a unique position, as at their core they bring people from all over the world together… by finding ways or moments to connect your guests, you are helping them fill a fundamental need.”

BLLA: What are you hoping to get out of your participation in the Boutique Hotel Investment Conference?

RM: “Having meaningful conversations with my peers and other thought leaders in the industry to see how each of us envision the future of this market.”

BLLA: Why do you believe boutique hotels are a good investment?

RM: “We know that 78% of Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for immersive and authentic experiences when they travel; we also know that while they represent 43% of the travel spend, less than 3% of the global supply is designed for them. Traditional hospitality brands cannot cater to these needs. By knowing this, then a basic understanding of supply and demand boutique and experiential lifestyle brands are good investments.”

This interview was originally published on

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