Until recently, Selina has been a glorified hostel operator. Its ambition to provide work-life balance to millennials who travel internationally has been more of a work-in-progress than a consistent offering. Yet massive fresh funding this year will help drive Selina to become one of 2019's most fascinating experiments in hospitality.
Selina, an operator of mixed-use spaces for travelers, said Wednesday it had received $150 million in real estate funding from DD3 Capital Partners.
Earlier this year, Selina, which calls itself a hospitality group and community for millennial travelers, raised a $95 million Series B investment round. Its backers include Abraaj Group and WeWork CEO Adam Neumann.
Each property aims to offer both hostel-like lodging and private hotel rooms, both bars and communal kitchens, both co-working spaces and coffee stations. The company runs 31 properties in Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, México, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Portugal.
Yoav Gery, Selina’s president, said the company’s mission is “to inspire meaningful, authentic connections between people.”
Does that mean it’s like Remote Year, the travel abroad program for professionals that Skift’s Rebecca Stone has been providing monthly on-the-road reports from?
No, it’s not, as Selina doesn’t create specific groups and arrange for their private apartments and transport by acting as a trip concierge.
However, Gery argues that Selina offers a one-stop shop version of a simplified travel promise to millennials.
“Today, you can land in Costa Rica, and if you want to spend a month working and playing you can hopscotch the country at our 8 locations, each with enclosed co-working spaces with wifi and with food offerings and lodging that varies from dorm-style to private rooms,” Gery said.
“We have groups coming through, from digital nomads to groups of surfers, and our experience directors connect people to relevant experiences,” Gery said. “The way we’ve architected our spaces encourages a community to form naturally.”
Selina intends to open 15 spots in the U.S. by the end of 2020. It will open its 60,000-square-foot property in the Bowery district of lower Manhattan by the middle of 2019, Gery said.
The company, founded in 2015 in Pedasi, Panama, is now headquartered in London and claims to have 1,500 workers worldwide.
Selina was supposed to make its U.S. debut by September with a 62-key hotel in Miami with 220 beds, with some beds in a bunk or dorm setup.
However that property, Selina Little Havana, is now slated to open in February, due to routine delays in development, Gery said.
The property is being redeveloped by Selina, as the operator, through a partnership with Barlington Group, the property owner.
Mixing It Up With Mixed Use
Mixed-use is a hot concept right now in the travel and restaurant verticals.
Hoteliers, hostel owners, co-working spaces, and restaurant brands increasingly look to embed their products in “live, play, work” settings for maximum appeal to a particular urban demographic.
Kenneth Himmel, the CEO and president of Related Urban, the real estate development company behind the massive Hudson Yards project in the works in New York City, said mixed-use was the hottest trend his company is pursuing, when he spoke at Skift Global Forum. The folks behind Nobu Hospitality have said much the same at Skift Restaurants Forum.
Many hotel brands, such as Life House, have been mimicking aspects of social networks like LinkedIn and Tinder to foment community.
Meanwhile, companies in the vacation rental sector like Airbnb and Vacasa have been exploring how to partner with real estate developers and property managers to bring residences to urban complexes that feature long-term housing and co-working spaces.
The trend will be a hot topic when Rafael Museri, CEO of Selina, speaks at Skift Forum Europe 2019 in London in April.
Photo credit: Selina, an operator of luxury mixed-use spaces, meaning a mix of hotel rooms, bars, and co-working spaces, has received $150 million in real estate funding. Shown here is a Selina property in Playa Venao, Panama. Selina