A unique model of hospitality and accommodation is set to come to Israel by the end of this year, after Israeli CEOs Rafael Museri and Daniel Rudasevski have already opened accommodations in 23 locations in Central America.
In 2014, the duo founded their business, called Selina, while in Panama, where they were living. Seasoned travelers and real estate businessmen, Musei and Rudasevski set out “to change the world of hospitality,” as the company’s website explains.
Selina doesn’t define its accommodations as hotels or hostels, but as a hospitality network.
It strives to create “neighborhoods” by drawing together travelers, locals and Selina staff members to enjoy communal work spaces, activities and workshops, as well as volunteering opportunities in the local communities.
Selina runs volunteering activities under the banner “Selina Gives Back,” and commits 2% of labor time so its staff can volunteer in arts, culture and environmental projects.
Selina also offers a range of accommodations, from pocket-friendly dorm rooms to far less frugal luxury rooms.
“It about a complete ecosystem where people live, work, play, meet... It’s about having a lot of fun but, at the same time, being educated – particularly in different workshops, doing exercise, eating healthy food,” says Museri during an interview with The Jerusalem Post
in Tel Aviv on Monday.
Addressing the wide range of rooms on offer, he explains: “It’s not about how much money you have. It’s all about who you are and if you are willing to be part of the experience.”
While guests may stay in differently priced rooms, they all shared the same communal areas, and Rudasevski notes, you can’t differentiate between “who has $20 and who is the CEO of a company.”
“It creates an interesting social mix,” he remarks, saying that the “Selina playground” provides a meeting point for guests, locals and staff.
Selina is different from other hostels and hotels in the focus it places on the local communities.
“We don’t look for where all the hotels are already located. We ask local people where they want to hang out and what kind of local activities they’d like,” Museri tells the Post.
They work with staff members in the local areas, drawing from their knowledge to ensure they are establishing themselves in the right locations.
“Selina is not looking for the obvious place where there are already lots of tourists.
We are looking for the up-and-coming areas,” he says, stressing the importance of having an involved an enthusiastic local community.
In Jerusalem and especially in Tel Aviv, he says, it’s challenging to find such untrodden areas, “because everywhere is up-and-coming.”
“You don’t have many cities in the world where the entire city is quite interesting,” he says with reference to Tel Aviv.
Selina plans to open multiple accommodations in Tel Aviv, with the first one opening by the end of the year. Asked where it is likely to be, he says he has his eye on the south of the city.
As well as in the big cities, Selina also envisions itself setting up shop in the Israeli desert, as well as in the Golan.
Selina recently raised $95 million and, in addition to Israel, is expanding into other new locations. These include: Bogota, Colombia; Baños, Ecuador; Casco Viejo, Panama; Lima, Peru; Miami, Florida; Bariloche, Argentina; and Ica, Peru.
Investors in Selina include the Abraaj Group, Sir Ronald Cohen, co-founder of WeWork Adam Neumann, angel investor Gigi Levy-Weiss, Embassy Group and the Matalon family.
“Selina is going into 40 countries in 5 years and for that you need strong partners and local know-how,” Museri said, noting that they have the support of many “key families” in different locations around the world.