Saying the Quiet Part Out Loud

May 28, 2024
May 28, 2024 Bill Graf

Our vision for 2030 is simple: Make Hostels Sexy.

I know, I know, I probably lost half of you at the word hostel. But bear with me.

Despite having stayed at well over a hundred hostels, I couldn’t actually tell you what the definition was without Googling it. For most people, the word “hostel” conjures images of dirty, shared dorm rooms. The kind of place you only stay at if you don’t have the budget for something nicer. And the fact of the matter is that most hostels are cheap with shared accommodation. But the words “cheap” and “shared” do not define the concept.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “Hostel” as:

“an establishment which provides inexpensive food and lodging for a specific group of people, such as students, workers, or travelers.”

Providing food and lodging aren’t specific to the definition of a hostel. Hotels typically provide food and lodging. And there are plenty of inexpensive hotels. (Note: inexpensive isn’t the same as cheap… inexpensive typically suggests value fully equal to cost).

So how does one differentiate a hostel from an inexpensive hotel? 

Hostels are targeted at a specific group of people. 

Another way to say this would be that hostels are hotels targeted at a specific community. The most prevalent flavor of hostel is the “youth hostel,” but that’s not the only flavor.

ONDA is a Boutique Hostel for Travelers, providing high value lodging libations for a community of Travelers (capital T – more on this in a future post). 

Despite having stayed at some of the best five star hotels in the world, my most memorable travel experiences are all at hostels. These memories have nothing to do with the rooms or the food and everything to do with the people I met. These experiences are what drove me to found ONDA. Building community is core to what we do.

To achieve our vision, we will grow to 7 locations in Costa Rica and build a community of Travelers 150,000 strong by 2030. After that, we intend to establish locations in additional countries.

We’ve tiptoed around calling ourselves a hostel for the last three years, so it feels good to finally say it out loud. Don’t be surprised, however, if you don’t see the word “Hostel” anywhere on our website or marketing materials any time soon. We avoid using the word “hostel” in guest-facing communication for fear of alienating potential guests who we know would love staying with us. The day that we can proudly market ourselves as a hostel without the risk of alienating guests is the day I’ll know we’ve accomplished this vision.

Check out our full 2030 vision here.

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