Five years after opening the first Black-owned hostel in the U.S. based in Houston, Deidre Mathis has made history again in the same city. This time, she has opened the first adults-only themed boutique hotel known as Wanderstay Boutique Hotel.
The hotel comes with 10 beautifully themed rooms that range from the Black and White Art Museum, Desert Vibes, Safari Escape, and Houston Sports Teams, Click2Houston.com reported. Following the success of the hostel she opened in 2018, which has since accommodated over 15,000 guests from 31 countries, Mathis opened Wanderstay Boutique Hotel to give guests a unique hospitality experience, she says on her website.
Mathis is a big solo traveler and it was her experience traveling around the world that motivated her to go into the hospitality industry. “I met these fabulous women and we formed this amazing bond and continued to travel together for a year and a half, doing nothing but staying in hostels,” she told Forbes.
However, after moving to Houston, she realized there was a market for the hostel business and she did not think twice about exploring it. Of interest to her was the profitability of the hostel business. According to her, there are over 400 hostels in the United States that collectively made $17 million in 2016.
“It’s a profitable industry,” she said. “But that’s not why I’m getting into it. I’m getting into it because I have a passion for traveling and for putting people together. So the money’s just a bonus.”
To start her hostel, called Wanderstay Hostel, Mathis explored multiple sources of capital, in addition to getting a small business loan. She ran an Indiegogo campaign and raised $5,000 in just 31 days. Mathis said after starting her hostel that she was proud she had made her dream come true two years after conceptualizing it.
Starting the hostel at the age of 32 did not come easy because of Mathis’ skin color. A report by IBISWorld said the 2022 market size of the U.S. hotel/motel industry is $258 billion, with 132,228 properties. However, less than 2 percent of these hotel owners are Black, the National Association of Black Hotel Owner Operators and Developers said. Less than 1 percent are Black women.
“Starting the business. Getting lending, getting money. Being a woman of color, we all know that we’re the least funded sector, so it’s really hard to get funding,” hotelier and author Mathis told Sass Magazine. “Being a small business owner without a family of entrepreneurs or people I could call and say: hey how do I do x-y-z. I’m learning every single day.”
Mathis is the author of a budget travel book, Wanderlust: For the Young, Broke Professional, which she wrote after taking a post-graduation gap year, she told Forbes.