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Selina Hotels eyes six small properties in Jamaica

Published:Friday | July 7, 2017 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham

Selina Hotels has selected Jamaica for its first foray into the Caribbean market, with plans to brand six properties under its communal concept targeted at adventure seekers.

Selina says it will be partnering with operators in Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, Port Antonio and Kingston to cater to backpackers and low-budget vacationers.

Instead of sequestered rooming, as hotels typically provide, Selina specialises in 'hostel-type' accommodation in which bargain seekers bunk together, but it also caters to deep-pocketed travellers who want a different type of vacation experience.

"You will have backpackers who are spending the night in a 12-bunk room at US$15 per night, all the way to a couple next door to them who are from New York, and have money in their pocket, that will spend US$300 per night," said Selina president Yoav Gery.

"So there are budget-conscious persons on our properties, but there are also persons who have their money but just want an experience," he said.

Gery told Gleaner Business that he will travel to Jamaica this month to finalise the deals with the unnamed properties that his company is hoping to manage under lease contract.

"We've identified the deals, but we've not signed binding agreements. We're in advance discussions with them, so we do expect to be signing off with them in the next two months," he said.

Selina is negotiating 20-year leases with each property owner. It is going after small properties of around 30-50 rooms.

"Our business model is to lease from landlords. That's what we do everywhere we go, and that's what we'll do in Jamaica," Gery said.

Selina aims to invest around US$600,000 per property to transform them into hostels.


'Re-concepting' spaces


"We come in and we redesign the property. Usually, we will leave much of the property the way it was. We basically re-concept the public space, we re-concept the bedrooms and we reopen it as Selina," Gery said, noting that Selina aims to operate 200 beds per property on average, or four beds per room.

Selina started out in Panama and now operates several properties across Latin America four in Panama, six in Costa Rica and two in Colombia. Alongside Jamaica, the company is eyeing operations in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico and Dominican Republic, and Miami.

"In our view this is where hospitality is heading, it is less about showing up and having a concierge service; it is less about whether you are staying in a two-star or a five-star hotel," said Gery. "The brand is centred around both backpackers, in that we have rooms with about 10 or 12 bunks in them, and next door you'll have a another that is a boutique room with a king-size bed and all of the amenities of a luxury boutique room."

By the end of 2017, Gery says he aims to grow the brand to 37 hotels.