Midweek Interview with Selina’s Dean Leibowitz

Midweek Interview with Selina’s Dean Leibowitz

We caught up with Selina’s regional destination director to talk all things surfing, South Park and off-grid communities.

What’s your main goal for this year?

To make everyone in Australia love Selina as much as I do. I really want the Aussie market to understand our approach to work/life/travel and how each can be blended seamlessly into one beautiful lifestyle.

What’s your favourite thing about working in the travel industry?

Some of my fondest memories are those spent travelling, eating, drinking and exploring new, exciting places with eclectic groups of people. Creating those magical moments for thousands of people is what inspires me to work in the travel industry.

How do you like to spend your free time?

Surfing, swimming, playing football (soccer) and getting outside. My wife and I love to jump in the car with our boards on the roof, dog in the back and explore the NSW coastline.

In particular, we love looking for remote cabins in off-grid communities, small little coastal towns with empty breaks and isolated beaches.

Have you managed to do any travelling since restrictions began to ease (domestic or international)?

I came back to Australia in March 2020. At that point, I had just visited well over 20 countries in the 3-4 years before.

Despite the restrictions, my goal was always to explore Australia and fall in love with my home country all over again. I have been up and down the NSW coastline a few times and managed to get to Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide a couple of times as well (albeit for work).

What’s your favourite travel company, besides the one you work for?

I love the Ace and Hoxton Hotel groups. They have such an amazing way of creating unique and localised experiences in all of their hotels. They epitomise “cool” but manage to keep it laid back and welcoming.

I also love what the Unyoked guys are doing too. Creating these isolated destinations to properly disconnect is something that will always catch my attention.

If you could invite three famous guests (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would you choose?

I’ve always wanted to spend time with Matt Stone and Trey Parker (the creators of South Park). I love the way they look at the entire world as a big joke to poke fun at.

I think having Jimi Hendrix around would be great if he were playing the guitar, but I don’t see him as much of a conversationalist.

Anthony Bourdain would be an amazing guest if he’s cooking and hosting… And while I’m exceeding the three-person guest list, I’d also extend an invitation to Patti Smith, Quintin Tarantino, Anderson Paak, Mac Miller, Jim Carey and Adam Sandler – all people I feel are already close friends of mine (even if they don’t share that sentiment.. Or know who I am).

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the global pandemic hit?

It may be a contrary opinion but I truly believe there are so many positives that have been brought about by Covid. The fact that the world is now starting to believe that working from anywhere is not only possible but preferable is a big one for me.

People are starting to trust that their employees and team members don’t need to be chained to an office desk to get things done. In fact, most are fore for more productive, rounded and balanced employees once given the freedom to create their own work-life balance.

What’s your advice for others in the travel industry on coping with the global pandemic?

Cope no longer – it’s time to start thriving. The global desire for travel, exploration and meaningful experiences is greater than ever.

There is a term being floated around called “Revenge Travel” and studies are showing that people are not only jumping at the opportunity to travel again, they are spending much more than ever. I think the most important thing is to not expect the world to go back to the way it was in December 2019.

Things have changed, including people’s mindsets, ambitions and inspirations. So my suggestion is to start trying to accommodate the new way of life
and don’t hold onto the distant memories and nostalgia of the pre-covid world.

What book and/or TV show can you not get enough of lately?

I just read Sapiens by Noah Uval Harrari. One of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. It basically outlines the entire history of humankind dating back to the first homosapiens to walk on this planet.

It explains how we as humans – an animal species of no real might or significance, sitting in the middle of the food chain – managed to climb to the top and become the dominant species of this planet. It makes you feel tiny in the grand scheme of things but also helps make sense of some of
the madness we see on a daily basis.

Do you have any travel goals for 2022?

I definitely want (need) to travel a couple of times before the year is out but nothing set in stone.

My wife and I have just welcomed our first child to the family and we’re not entirely sure how travel will work. But then, I’m also not entirely sure what regular life will be like with a baby.

So I guess my main goal would be to figure out how to continue to fulfil my wanderlust through parenthood.

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