Need a Love Motel in Latin America? There’s an App for That
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because when you need to find a place for quick sex, immediacy is key.
It needed to stop, José Miguel Hurtado remembers thinking years ago outside a motel in the La Florida district in Santiago, Chile. Finding a place to take that special someone in the early hours was just too difficult. At 2 am there was only one option: a love motel. But trying to find one that was not only open but also had the right ambiance — and before the dreaded I need to go home now — was a challenge.
“Man, I lost my opportunity three times just like that,” says Hurtado, CEO of MotelNow, which offers a hack to the problem of finding a love motel free of hiccups, obstacles or passion-dampening bureaucracy. The app provides options for an issue often talked about in hushed voices or accompanied by nervous giggles: the real estate of sex.
MotelNow acts as a kind of Airbnb between love motel and lovemaker.
In Latin America, love motels are big business. Many couples live with their parents well into their late 20s — and sometimes even later — and prefer to get it on in a motel rather than at home in a room next to the one where abuela is getting ready for bed or papá is watching the game. Then there are the couples who like to role-play or want to sneak off for a steamy affair. To service such couples are areas like Avenida 55 in Medellín, Colombia, a strip lined with institutions like D’lusso Suites, the Collins Hotel and Element. But it’s no fun to drive up to a strip and try to figure out which motel is the best (and people don’t tend to wander around these areas — you show up in a taxi, already knowing where you’re going).
MotelNow acts as a kind of Airbnb between love motel and lovemaker. The app’s interface is set up like a hotel-booking platform: Scroll through photographs of room interiors and services, choose a theme — such as “jungle,” “casino,” “presidential” — and book a place for three or four hours, say, or perhaps the amanecida option, which means you spend the night.
Before he started using MotelNow, 27-year-old Juan Carlos Rojas of Medellín relied on intuition when, after a night of partying, he needed a love hotel. His intuition, however, often disappointed him. “I would wait … in the lobby for 40 minutes,” Rojas says. “It was so annoying.” With MotelNow, such logistical kinks are solved, for the most part. Improving the app’s pricing software (sometimes prices are delayed) and hotel response times would be welcome changes, Rojas says.
Currently, the free app is available in Colombia and Chile and offers 200 motel choices to approximately 80,000 active users per month. Hurtado plans to add Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey next. However, that will require persuading investors from Mexico, Chile and Colombia to get on board. There’s little competition in this world of sex motels, which Hurtado says is still “lamentably full of taboos.” Sixtynite offers a similar service in Mexico. In Brazil, there’s a website called Guia de Motéis that also acts as a booking service.
Plans for enhancements to the MotelNow app include adding advice for taking advantage of any extras the motels have to offer — such as condoms and dildos. “You walk in and there’s a swing,” says Hurtado, “but the motel doesn’t show you how to use it. No one shows you. That’s what we’re working on.”
In the meantime, MotelNow is providing lovers with options to lay down and make love. And who knows? The app could also be part of the formula that helps spark Latin America’s next sexual revolution.