Interview With Emerging Hotelier Kike Sarasola of Room Mate Hotels

The second installment in our series on emerging hoteliers who are changing the lodging game spotlights a man whose success in brand creation is a product of his tireless creativity and innately hospitable nature.

Sit down at a table with Enrique "Kike" Sarasola, the charismatic Spaniard who founded Room Mate Hotels, and—even though he may be on a round-the-globe media blitz with 50 more stops to go— he makes you feel as though your meeting is the most interesting thing to happen in weeks. He discusses new hotel openings in Miami and South America with the same sort of enthusiasm as another man might talk about installing a guest cottage in the back yard: He is excited, but modest. He visibly hopes you’ll be impressed with the final results.

Other hotel CEOs might arrive for a presentation with an army of PR handlers, a video presentation and a smoothly rehearsed speech. Sarasola arrives on his own, with no multimedia assistance, and asks simply: What do you want to know? Based on your answer, he serves up anecdotes and insider details on all 15 of his properties, plus others still in the pipeline. He discusses everything from Miami building codes (Complex! Slower to navigate than expected. Sigh) to original art installations (The Coca-Cola Light billboard at Room Mate Oscar was made of 15,000 limited-edition bottles!).

A corporate suit, he is certainly not. A killer businessman, he may well be, though he doesn’t flaunt it. But as the driving force behind an idiosyncratic hotel brand, Sarasola absolutely shines. Below, an introduction to Room Mate Hotels: the man and the brand.

Lena Katz

Lena Katz is the author of the Travel Temptations series (SIP, SUN, SNOW), published by Globe Pequot Press in 2009. Lena is also a travel expert for Celebrations/1800FLOWERS and WEtv (online and on-air). She contributes to the South China Morning Post and ABC News online. Lena is a former Orbitz Travel blogger and former columnist for the LA Times. She's been published in Brides Magazine, Robb Rep...(Read More)

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