Burgas Coliving

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"It is very important to be in good relations with all the local stakeholders."

Burgas Coliving is located in “Mineral springs of Burgas” – a satellite settlement, 15 km away from the city centre. The Burgas Mineral Springs are one of the most ancient Bulgarian balneotherapy resorts, dating for more than 2500 years. Burgas’s premise was created during communism in 1954, near the old bath. Consisting of 2 buildings and about 8000 sq.m. park area, its purpose was to heal and to provide a salutary rest for communist workers, using mineral water. In 2020, the current owners decided to recreate a modern gathering place: 13 bedrooms (8 double and 5 single bedrooms) with 9 bathrooms, 50 sq.m. coworking spaces and private call room, shared kitchen huge dining and living room, gaming zone, relaxing zone, huge garden with different kinds of areas for all your needs and interests and much much more.

The hub’s history

Katya: In the beginning of 2019, we read an article about digital nomads and how places like co-livings became very popular and we got very impressed. At that moment, we were already the owners of our property and found out that this was an incredible opportunity for us to make our place a co-living, and invite all these digital nomads travelling all around the world to our place. This is where our idea started. About a month before the pandemic, we began our innovation. In the beginning of the pandemic, when nobody knew what would happen next, we stopped for a couple of months. After this, we realised how the pandemic helped people detach from the office and how they accepted the concept of office at home. Remote work became more and more popular. So we continued with our project.

The reason we created our place was to make a deeper connection between the locals and the digital nomads.

Tony: During the pandemic, we spent a lot of time in the property and realised how beautiful it is here and how good it is to show this amazing place and connect people with nature. We wanted to show that this is the future. We have been open for less than a year at the moment, but it was a very intense summer and autumn with a lot of amazing people and lots of events. It was beautiful. We hope that this year we will be the same or better! From January to April, we organise several events for the locals. For example, most recently, we hosted a series of wine events for local small producers. Small producers, tiny wineries and small cooperatives showed their new wines for 2023 and it was an amazing weekend with a lot of nice talks and tastings. We also made many different types of small events.

K: We gathered folklore dancers from the area for a couple of days. But our main idea and the reason we created our place was to make a deeper connection between the locals and the digital nomads, people who travel all over the world. Now, we work mostly for the locals, but during the rest of the year, we try to gather different kinds of people.

Why did you choose to base your hub in this area?

K: We were the owners of this place before we created this hub.

T: Τhis is actually a unique area. It's very ancient and known for the healing thermal water and for the archaeological sites of the Roman Empire. There is a lot of archaeological research. The municipality is investing money and trying to promote the beautiful area because it combines nature and cultural heritage.

What did you manage to (re)build in your territory?

T: When people visit our place, they learn a lot of things about the country and its culture. We try to promote the local spirit, the local food and experience. We create a feeling of summer camp: the backyard, small things you can do like sports, campfire, barbecue or yoga. These small things make a team. We try to connect the visitors with the locals.

How do you envision the future?

K: At the moment, we are organising a festival with the local authorities. It will happen in the beginning of summer. We have a partnership with the municipality of Burgas in this festival and the goal is to gather digital nomads, remote workers and freelancers from Bulgaria to deepen their connection and show the Bulgarian people how nice it is to work and travel at the same time and all the digital nomad lifestyle treasures.

For us, this is the most important thing, to help destroy the borders for the locals, because our place is not so multicultural.

T: Our place was an old communist spa hotel. The two buildings were built under the communist regime in the 1950s for the local people to heal with mineral water. Our mission was to renovate one of them, which now is the Burgas co-living. We invested a lot of effort these three years. We renovated the whole building. In the long term, our next project is to start renovating the second building, which is in the same property, 10 metres away from the first one. We started this in December with some volunteers from Mexico and Colombia. We wanted to make a yoga room for yoga practice during the cold or rainy days. So we invited them and they started to paint the walls, but at the same time, we are trying to renovate the whole building. This is our long term project.

K: We want to renovate the whole other building and be able to take part in Erasmus+ or other programmes. We will invite people from abroad to make this connection. For us, this is the most important thing, to help destroy the borders for the locals, because our place is not so multicultural. We want to turn this into a multicultural place and make a deeper connection between the Bulgarian people and people abroad.

Spotlight Practice 1: Connecting with the locals

K: We are a very young project but a method we could share is that when you want to make something nice for the locals, you definitely need to work with the local authorities, the local organisations and associations. We organised several things during last year, for example with a local art organisation and our digital nomads, we painted a wall in our building. After this, we organised a summit between local authorities, the local companies, the local associations and the digital nomads. It is very important to be in good relations with all the local stakeholders.

T: We are in good communication with other hubs, which we will meet next week in Spain. We communicate all our ideas with them and we are trying to improve the whole network of hubs, because we realised that most people who visit these places have similar interests so it is very important to share information, experiences, knowledge, and good practices. This is very important for this new kind of business, trying to connect the locals with the digital nomads, who have different experiences and culture. It’s like collecting know-how and spreading it to other people.

Katya and Tony, Founders of Burgas Coliving & Coworking. Together they presented how their young hub is bringing Bulgarian and international professionals into nature, in a territory with a great history and the potential to be included into the international spotlight.