After many questions, this is the final answer on why we decided to go over there.
Ostello Bello is a solid international reality in the hospitality field, with hostels in Milan, Como, Genova, Firenze, Roma, Assisi and Myanmar.
After reading this, the first question that’s likely to come to mind is the one Ostello Bello is asked a lot of times: why Myanmar?
At the time they opened the first Ostello Bello in Milan in 2011, the founders had only the slightest idea of opening hostels beyond the national borders. Indeed, it’s not that easy to open an hostel – it requires a mix of lucky circumstances: besides the financial means and the right building, you need experienced and determined people who can run the business on an operational, strategic and administrative point of view. By chance these lucky circumstances happened in Myanmar.
“A society specialized in start-ups acquired 10% of our shares in 2013. At the same time, some partners of that society were about to make investments in Myanmar with a local society called Myanmar Strategic Holdings. The projects ranged from English schools to restaurants, and they also included low-cost hospitality. The idea of opening new hostels in Myanmar was especially dear to the “new partner” Paolo Pomè, a real backpacker who had traveled all around the world “off the beaten tracks”. To be honest, we had never though about Myanmar as a place to open our second hostel, but when we received the offer we considered it. From the very beginning, it looked like a great development opportunity, a testbed to prove if we were really able to spread. If we could make it in Myanmar, chances were good that we could succeed in Como, too”, joke Carlo, Pietro and Nicola. “So we left for Myanmar in April 2013. The militar dictatorship had just ended, so we found a country with a huge touristic potential that was quickly opening to the world, for better or for worse: on our first visit there was a single ATM in the whole country, inside a bank in Yangon; the next year there were ATMs even inside the Shwedagon Pagoda”.
In the last years, the tourists who have decided to visit Myanmar are both backpackers who choose the classic East-Asian trail and now have a new country to explore, and more “canonical” travelers who decided to spend a week on vacation in Myanmar. It’s a country that just opened to tourism, so it’s not as easy to reach as Thailand – but it has a lot to offer: from the endless beaches to unique architectural and natural attractions. In 2014, the local society found a suitable building for a hostel in Bagan and the Ostello Bello adventure in Myanmar began. Ostello Bello Bagan opened to the public in 2015, the next year followed Mandalay and Inle Lake hostels.
Ostello Bello not only provided the brand, the know-how and the procedure manuals, but also the choice of the first supervisor and future country manager (Francesco Romagnoni), project managers, and training for the future area managers with a long experience in European hostels. Today the expat staff is still selected by Ostello Bello, while the local employees are selected and trained on site. People are the most important element when deciding to develop a new partnership and replicate it: “We considered the reliability of the partner society and its CEO Enrico Cesenni and we decided to give it a try. It’s essential to underline that all this was possible because since 2014 we have the human resources, in terms of number experience and skills, to take up this new adventure”. The partnership format has proven a great solution to have a long-distance management of the hostel and the Ostello Bello adventure in Myanmar is not over.