Ho­tels where re­lax­ation is all in a day’s work

The Sunday Telegraph - Travel - - Front Page -

It’s 4pm on a Sun­day and I’m at the newly opened Lit­tle Beach House Barcelona – a ho­tel and mem­bers’ club in the sleepy sea­side town of Gar­raf, a former fish­ing vil­lage. I look out of the win­dow: the sea is glit­ter­ing like a Balan­chine bal­let and five girls are pad­dle­board­ing in syn­chro­nised dis­play. From a dis­tance, boats with blue-and-white sails look like they’re sway­ing to the live Span­ish gui­tar mu­sic play­ing in the back­ground.

In­stead of en­joy­ing a glass of ver­mouth as I take in the scene, I’m on my lap­top fin­ish­ing a piece for work. “This is so much fun,” says my friend Marc, an in­te­rior de­signer, as he ed­its a Key­note pre­sen­ta­tion. “We should do this more of­ten.”

We have des­ig­nated this as our “co-work­ing” day. The logic goes: (1) we’re more pro­duc­tive when work­ing to­gether as we can spur each other on; (2) the ho­tel’s con­vivial at­mos­phere might spark ideas and con­ver­sa­tions with other guests; and (3) the beach views will in­spire.

We’re not alone in our think­ing. In 2017, there were about 1.27mil­lion peo­ple us­ing co-work­ing spa­ces world­wide. And with flex­i­ble work­ing quickly be­com­ing the norm, the num­bers are set to grow. The United States start-up WeWork is val­ued at $20bil­lion (£15.4bn) and its model of flex­i­ble workspace teamed with cof­fee bars, events and a global com­mu­nity is be­ing widely copied. Now, ho­tels are look­ing to cap­i­talise on this emerg­ing trend, fusing co-work­ing with ho­tel liv­ing.

Prop­er­ties run by the Soho House Group have al­ways been a hub for co-work­ing, with ded­i­cated work ar­eas for guests and mem­bers. How­ever, they bill them­selves first and fore­most as a ho­tel and mem­bers’ club. Other ho­tel groups have turned this model on its head, cre­at­ing co-work­ing ho­tels aimed at “dig­i­tal no­mads”, who work re­motely in their des­ti­na­tion of choice.

One ex­am­ple is Selina, which is due to launch its first Euro­pean ho­tel in Porto, Por­tu­gal, this month and its first US prop­erty in Mi­ami’s Lit­tle Ha­vana in De­cem­ber. The group has 25 prop­er­ties in Latin Amer­i­can ci­ties, such as Quito and Carta­gena. Hav­ing re­cently been in­jected with $95mil­lion in fund­ing from WeWork founder Adam Neu­mann and pri­vate eq­uity firm The Abraaj Group, it’s look­ing to ex­pand to more than 40 lo­ca­tions glob­ally by the end of 2019.

Selina’s sell­ing point is that it is a net­work of stylish hos­tels for grown-ups, kit­ted with co-work­ing spa­ces and “play­ground” ar­eas where guests can work on col­lab­o­ra­tive projects and at­tend TED-style talks – all de­signed to fos­ter a sense of com­mu­nity and con­nect guests with one an­other. Other com­pa­nies that share this phi­los­o­phy in­clude Out­site and Roam.

“If you go into any old ho­tel, it’s not easy to just say hello to some­one,” says Selina’s pres­i­dent, Yoav Gery. “Our model, while up­scale, has a back­pack­ing or hos­tel men­tal­ity at its core, built around the idea of show­ing up at a lo­ca­tion, not know­ing any­body and walk­ing away with 20 friends.” Ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions range from a $10 per night bed in a hos­tel-type dorm to a $300 per night deluxe en suite room.

Meet­ing peo­ple and net­work­ing

Selina of­fers stylish hos­tels for grown-ups

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