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Slavi Kalov exploring in front of a mountain

Photo courtesy of Slavi Kalov

Slavi Kalov exploring in front of a mountain

Photo courtesy of Slavi Kalov

July 13, 2022 - 3 min read

There’s one thing hotels need to ace to attract digital nomads

Dan Etheridge

Impala Editor

  • We caught up with Slavi Kalov, a Senior Engineer at Impala who’s been living the digital nomad life for two years. From his coworking desk in Portugal, he shares his experiences, and his advice for hotels who are trying to attract remote workers.

Slavi’s been with Impala for 2.5 years, and for the majority of that time, he’s been making the most of our remote first setup. He loves life on the road, and while working his way across Europe, he’s gathered deep insight into the upsides and downsides of this lifestyle. He’s currently in the Costa da Caparica in Portugal, in the embrace of a buzzing local coworking and coliving community.

It began in Bansko

Slavi explains that the adventure began back in 2020. “I was based in Sofia, in Bulgaria, but a friend from university moved to Bansko. It’s traditionally seen as an expensive and touristy resort, but I was bored of Sofia and Bansko had less restrictive coronavirus regulations at the time. So I moved there, and found a great community of people living together, working together, and enjoying events together every day.”

Slavi enjoying winter sports in Bansko

Photo courtesy of Slavi Kalov

Slavi enjoying winter sports in Bansko

Photo courtesy of Slavi Kalov

Crucially, he’s come to learn that a successful stay in a location relies on much more than the office amenities he found at Coworking Bansko. “Having fast wifi and a comfortable desk is essential, but the community in Bansko was all organised by a German man called Mattias. He created a sense of closeness, organising events and making sure people connect. Some of the events happen every week, like board games on a Monday, but there are special events and one-offs too.”

Finding this community changed Slavi’s opinion of Bansko. “I bought an apartment there after a few months - and there’s lots to do there all year round. It’s between three mountains, so it has great winter sports conditions but there’s beautiful hiking to enjoy in the summer too.” It’s the combination of excellent working facilities with the strong sense of community, as well as the local natural beauty and things to do that drew him in.

Exploring further

The community of remote workers largely relies on word of mouth and social media to share information. Slavi says that Gran Canaria and Lisbon are renowned for their lively digital nomad populations. But while in Bansko, he’d heard that new facilities were opening up in the coastal town of Budva in Montenegro, and that became his next stop.

“I read that there was a great new coworking space,” Slavi explained, “which was absolutely true. But while there were a few digital nomads in the town, they were all very spread out. The feeling of community was fragmented. So I had a nice stay because the place is beautiful, but it’s hard to stay for a long time if you don’t feel like you have a community. Finding information you can trust is hard, and properties need to make sure they aren’t just advertising themselves, but that they have digital nomads to back up and talk about their experiences.


Photo courtesy of Slavi Kalov


Photo courtesy of Slavi Kalov

“I had a similar experience in the Canary Islands. I’d heard great things about the digital nomad life there, but I ended up in Tenerife rather than Gran Canaria. I was on the wrong island. I’m now in Portugal where it’s beautifully sunny and hot, and where there’s a great community. In fact, it’s starting to get very busy here. I think I’ll be heading back to my hometown of Chernomorets in Bulgaria for the summer, and perhaps to some of the other Portuguese communities, like the one in Madeira, later this year.”

Advice that applies everywhere

When it comes to helping properties build a successful community - one that keeps nomads coming back - Slavi’s advice is clear: “the most successful places all revolve around people who naturally create community. It can’t be done artificially. The groups in many locations have become self-managing, with digital nomads volunteering to run events and encourage people to meet each other. It’s by far the most important thing, and it needs to be a real focus.”

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