Dunes, waves, and the sun… is Fuerteventura your next remote work location?
We’ll tell you that it can easily be, because, in Corralejo, you will find a coliving and coworking space tailored to answer all your remote work needs while you enjoy the beauties of the island.
Meet Coliving & Surfing and its operator and community manager – Diego.
We recently did an interview with Diego to understand how this project came to life and what digital nomads and remote workers can expect by staying in Coliving & Surfing. We’re not going to spoil the interview, but the focus is on the community, learning, growth, and leaving a social impact on the island.
Inspired by the surfing culture of the island, positive vibrations, and eco values, Coliving & Surfing puts its efforts into making the best experience for its colivers but also uses its space to support the island and promote impactful ideas.
Read the interview below and get inspired!
If you missed some of our last interviews with coliving owners in Spain, be sure to check them also.
Disclaimer: This piece of content may contain some affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase or book through one of our links, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Interview sections Hide
How it all started
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”
1. Can you tell us a bit more about the Coliving & Surfing brand/ecosystem – the vision of the concept and the offering that come together under this name?
– We built the brand around surfing and personal development since the brand is under the umbrella of the Surfing Colors Hotel – a surf camp concept integrated into a 200-bed hotel (150 bedrooms, 50 apartments).
2. Before opening your place, did you have the opportunity to stay in some other coliving spaces or any similar accommodation? Tell us a bit more about that experience.
– Not really, but I had similar professional experiences in the past. For more than 4 years, I have been working for Mondragon University in the LEINN degree (leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation).
It is a degree where students have to create a real company with KPIs instead of grades. It includes both individual and teamwork, and it is a methodology that comes from Timmi Akademia in Finland.
During the process, these students must travel for a month to Berlin, another month to San Francisco, another to China, and another month to India. These trips are called learning journeys.
During this process, I lead the Berlin campus for all receiving students from all campuses. Many tools that are used used to create cooperation are the same for different communities just with different names: family meetings, personal skills events, masterminds, feedback, etc.
In those four years, I created the experience (learning journey, hosting more than 400 students in Berlin.
3. When building your coliving space, was there something that influenced your approach or inspired you to create the space and experience you have now?
– I know quite a few coworkings, such as Betahaus in Berlin and Utopicus and Impact Hub in Madrid. I saw them being born, growing, and adapting the business to their clients and the market, so that gave me a lot of insights and inspiration.
But what really happened is that 5 years ago, I met John Hormaetxe (Sun & Co.) in Hub Fuerteventura, the first coworking in Fuerteventura, and he quickly became our reference.
4. What is the story behind you choosing Corralejo and Fuerteventura as the location of Coliving & Surfing?
– Sebas (the host of Hub Fuerteventura) opens the first coworking on the island – Hub Fuerteventura, and without knowing each other, he invites me to give a course on digital marketing on the island.
Not being able to pay me at the time, he flies me in, invites me to stay in his home, and teaches me how to surf. This experience makes me get to know this wonderful island and this unique way of life and I make some great friends along the way.
Among those friends, one was Miguel Fariña, the director of the hotel Surfing Colors. During the pandemic, Miguel decided not to close the hotel, even though the rest closed. This gamble turned out good as it caused the hotel to fill up with remote workers escaping the lockdown. Seeing that, he realized there was an opportunity in the middle of the crisis and decided to take three rooms and create a coworking space and a communal kitchen out of them.
This was an interesting bet, but the communal kitchen (which is now a part and the heart of the community) allowed the concept to switch the business model from hotel to hostel and vice versa.
So, in the middle of the pandemic, Miguel offers me the opportunity to start a coliving inside the hotel. Something that is pure innovation within the hotel sector.
I liked the idea and the challenge, so I agreed but under one condition – to call Jon Hormaetxe to help us define the concept.
For 10 days, we got involved. We did interviews, a map of empathy, value proposition, and finally, we defined a strategy between the three of us to integrate a coliving inside a hotel with our different experiences.
We created a very interesting Minimum Viable Product and after almost two years, I can say that it is a success story. We have reached our objectives and exceeded them.
5. The Canary Islands are known for their strong coliving industry and friendly and supportive relationship between coliving owners. Can you tell us a bit more about your relationship with other colivings in the rest of the Canaries and Spain as well?
– For me, networking is very important. It is part of my skill set. I have visited different colivings in the Islands and met with their operator: Nacho (Repeople), Marina (Amarilla), Maria (Cactus Coliving), Carlos and Elsa (Pueblos Remotos), and Talleres Palermo coworking.
With the hotel, we have also created Escuela de Canarias (Hencansa) the first course in the Canary Islands on how to create a coliving. I motivated them to do the same as we did: interviews, empathy map, value proposition, design the space, and the community, and how to do marketing. Many of them have created wonderful spaces like Jonathan with Ecoisleta.
Also, in our business model, we have seen that B2C has worked very well, so we moved to explore B2B as well, directing to companies. Company retreats are another different model with another type of client. Many colivings on the islands have helped me by providing their spaces to sell these retreats to companies in Germany and create a wonderful experience for them.
6. Not one coliving is the same as the other! What would you say is Coliving & Surfing’s signature – some uniqueness that you offer compared to other coliving places?
– Each coliving is different and it is very important to work on values, mission, and vision. Also, the person behind the coliving gives a lot to the personality of the space and experience.
Our challenge, in this case, was to integrate the coliving into a hotel without affecting its personality. I am thankful that we created a wonderful team with Ari and Ricky from Loswiththeflow. They specialize in videos for colivings. After visiting many spaces, I think we found the formula.
We have integrated all the people that create this special atmosphere in Fuerteventura: surf schools, mindfulness, and above all, other similar communities on the island (we do not see them as competitors but as business partners).
Lastly, of course, there is the social impact, inviting social agents of Fuerteventura. Our mission is to help personal development within a community creating social impact on their journey.
Coliving & Surfing approach to Management
“The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.“
7. What type of management do you practice in the coliving?
– Creating a community within a hotel has its advantages and disadvantages. We have 24-hour reception, housekeeping, and maintenance services.
Our current team for the management of the coliving (apart from everything provided by the hotel) is Ari and Ricky from Lostwitheflow and myself. The three of us live in the coliving and are part of the experience.
8. What kind of activities are included for people who stay at Coliving & Surfing, and how do you approach organizing them?
– When we set the challenge and Jonh Hormaetxe helped us define our community, it was clear to us that the first thing we had to do was to connect the people within the community.
For that, we have the family dinner every Monday where we embrace new colivers and give each other feedback to improve everyone’s experience. On Tuesdays is the Open hour talk, where we exchange our skills. Once a month, we have a mastermind, and on Fridays, we have an after-work activity.
The other challenge is to connect our community with other communities similar to ours on the island.
Our space is also a coworking space, open to people from outside. Every day, we create events with different topics, inviting coaches and specialists from the island so they can share their knowledge for free (most of the time) with our colivers and people from outside.
Monday is Fit Monday, Tuesday is Open hour talk, Wednesday is wellbeing Wednesday, and Thursday is our dance day.
On the social impact part, which we believe is very important for our footprint when we travel, every week, we invite people from the island to talk about the challenges of the island (lack of water, recycling, gentrification, migration of young people due to lack of opportunities, migration in general, etc.).
In addition to this, every morning we have yoga or pilates, and, of course, all the facilities provided by the hotel (heated swimming pool, pool bar, etc.)
9. Can you tell us more about your skill-sharing events?
– We call it Open Hour Talk and do it every Tuesday. After the session, we have paella and live music at the hotel.
It is not only to exchange our skills; we take the opportunity to invite interesting people from the island to make a social impact with them. For example, El Capitan Canarias, who talk about recycling and participating in eco-activities.
“When people are free to choose where in the world they want to work, they simply enjoy their day-to-day work more“
-Brian De Haff, CEO of Aha
10. What is the typical coliver profile in Coliving & Surfing (age, occupation, etc.)?
– Most of our clients are between 20 and 50 years old, but we don’t really have a fixed coliver rate. Of course, our brand is aimed at people who do surfing or water sports, but only 20 percent of them actually practice this on a constant basis; the rest discover it on the go.
We promote well-being, sports, and personal development, which are the hallmarks of the island and especially Corralejo. People come to the Canary Islands for tranquility and the sun; personal discovery, both spiritually and physically, and of course, our wonderful weather – the constant spring.
11. What would you say people who come to Coliving & Surfing are searching for; what is the most frequent reason people come?
– Of course, the most frequent reason people come is to work remotely. Our client’s first priority is to have a good bandwidth and a comfortable place to work and hold their meetings.
From there, we designed everything around the experiences that focus on having a before-work and after-work in a wonderful environment. With an inspiring atmosphere, sun, paradisiacal beaches, water sports, well-being, and a lot of people coming from all over Europe with the same mood and vibes.
12. What do you think is the ideal length of stay to fully emerge in the community and experience at your place?
– From an economic point of view, most of the coliving spaces can offer a better price for a longer stay.
But if you really want to take advantage of the community there is always a process of integration with it. This is normal. My recommendation is one month. The average stay of our clients is almost a month and a half (six weeks).
It is the greatest satisfaction, and I have to say that we have 34 percent of people who extend their stay, or those who come back, which has been 16 percent so far, in a window of a year and a half of operation.
13. Do you offer some special offers/discounts? (For longer stays, group bookings, couples, etc.)
– Of course. We can make offers for long stays (we consider it more than 21 days) and to groups.
In fact, we are now launching a new brand called innremote.com, which specializes in corporate retreats in the Canary Islands, because most of the spaces in the Canary Islands (and many that you mention on your website) are part of the search brochure for the companies in Northern Europe who are interested in coming here and doing retreats.
Generally About the Coliving Movement
”A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.”
14. Do you think coliving is only dedicated to a specific group of people such as freelancers, digital nomads, and remote workers, or do you think it can gain popularity beyond that group of people?
– Of course. In fact, new community concepts will appear. For now, we have it clear, our client is someone who works and travels. But we have realized that it is no longer only the digital nomad. After the pandemic, the remote worker has emerged.
The difference is that he works for a remote company and has other needs. For example, families, those traveling with pets, makers, seniors, disabled, etc. There are many types of new customers and for each one, there is a new type of community.
15. Do you think coworking is a crucial component of coliving and why?
– Without hesitation. Our client needs a quiet space to work in, either with a computer or his hands.
I repeat what I said before, the main common denominator is to telework, travel, meet other people like yourself, and experience the social reality of the place where you travel.
16. What would you say is the most crucial element of a coliving?
– As in any community, whether that is a company, a family, a high-performance team, remote workers, etc., the basis for the creation of a community are two things: commitment and trust. This is achieved through tools such as feedback, skill-sharing, values, common goals, etc.
Most companies that offer remote work to their employees made a cultural change within the company, the famous organizational design, which at the base the same and works similarly.
17. One of the main selling points of colivings is the possibility to meet new people, share experiences, and maybe even develop new partnerships. Is this something you also had in mind when opening your place?
– Of course. Two years ago, when we designed the experience we did a lot of user interviews, built the empathy map and the value proposition, and in the end, created the user journey. We analyzed everything, from marketing, sales, the user experience in the coliving, and the after-sales.
This was one of our hypotheses, and we confirmed it in the customer study we did.
We also believe that it has to happen not only between the colivers but also within the island. That’s why we want those who want to contribute to leave their mark on the island with their knowledge.
For example, we are working with the institutes of the islands so that young people and remote workers can design solutions to the challenges of the islands.
18. Lastly, how do you see both Coliving & Surfing developing in the next few years? Do you have a vision of what it will grow into or some aspirations and goals that you’ve set for it?
– Just next month, we will be revisiting our mission, vision, and values as a team. For us, it is clear that we want to make an easier life for remote workers and motivate them to move to Fuerteventura.
Another goal is to allow these remote workers to meet other people like them and leave a footprint with social impact. We have several projects in mind, such as creating other spaces (always with our values present), consulting to develop communities, corporate retreats, etc.
Personally, I teach about innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship in several business schools. Last year, we created the Hecansa, which is the first course that teaches how to create communities of workers on the island – something I also want to encourage the locals to do. And why not? In the future, we could help young people from the island to acquire skills to work remotely and teach them how to answer the needs of the companies – help them become professionals in programming, UX, data, etc., and show them they can work from this wonderful space for the world.
Secure yourself the best coliving experience
- italki – Why not learn some Spanish before your trip and make your coliving even better? italki is the perfect platform for that! You will find more than 3500 native speakers waiting to help you with your Spanish.
Disclaimer: This article contains some affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, we can earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase.