Matthieu Zeilas, a charming 32 year old French entrepreneur, comes from the world of start-ups, luxury goods and hospitality management. Being a digital nomad himself, and having struggled with finding adequate living and working spaces around the world, he came up with a brilliant solution to join the two and make it a premium experience. He is the co-founder of Palma Coliving and I caught up with him to learn a bit more about this innovative concept.

Co-founders Hugo Grange and Matthieu Zeilas.

On your social media you describe yourself as "a digital slowmad enjoying life and people, a community builder, an entrepreneur and a foodie". What else should we know about you?

On my mother's side I have Corsican roots, so that's where my love of the island lifestyle comes from. I have also lived in Dominican Republic before settling in Mallorca. Professionally, my background is in luxury brands management, hospitality and real estate. I have stepped away from the luxury brands management years ago, as I found it rather superficial. These days I am looking for meaningful connection instead. I am looking to grow as a person, both alone and with others. My premium coliving projects satisfy that need. I am passionate about hospitality, real estate and start-ups. I mentor, consult and project manage in these areas when the right projects come along.

What is Palma Coliving all about?

In short, it is a "Conscious Coliving & Coworking Community". It's a lifestyle that connects likeminded people: digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers / employees who are looking to escape their routines. This last category is especially present since COVID and since working from home has been normalised.

How did you come up with the idea of coliving and, more specifically, premium coliving?

The idea came to me from my personal need to simplify my life as a digital nomad, to merge my own life and work needs. Airbnb or hostels are quite expensive for a month at the time. On top of that you have to find a coworking space, if you don't want to work from your bed. These challenges create frustration and eat into your creativity and productivity. From some earlier project management and consulting experiences I also learnt what I definitely did not want to create i.e. spaces that feel like coliving factories with 200 rooms etc. I came to Mallorca in 2019 and instantly fell in love with this paradise. It reminded me of Corsica and of Dominican Republic. So, I started advertising for like-minded people to live and work with me, offering to share experiences and to mentor them in the areas I am an expert in. It snowballed from that. I started in Palmanova, and then moved to Palma, learning in the process that it was not only about the seaside lifestyle. At the same time, I met my co-founder, who came from another coliving, and we decided that we wanted a premium location, a premium property and an urban setup in a seaside city.

How many coliving houses do you now run and what does a typical house look like?

We currently have four houses, about 45 beds in total. We are in Palma, Barcelona, and Valencia. All our houses are premium properties with character and style. Inside, these houses feature a maximum of 10-15 stylish bedrooms, with private or shared bathrooms and fully equipped kitchens. Coworking spaces feature high-quality desks, ergonomic chairs, conference rooms, fast internet and anything else a modern digital nomad or a freelancer may need to live and work.

Is this concept affordable?

That depends on what you consider to be "affordable". We are not competing with your typical shared houses or hostels. For a single monthly fee (that starts at just over 1000 euros) you solve a headache of finding a place to live and a place to work, under the same roof, and therefore cutting out the time and the expense of commuting. You enter a community of like-minded people to exchange ideas and grow with. In addition, many of your basic needs are covered: fast internet, bed linen, towels, basic toiletries, regular cleaning, and community activities including yoga etc. Also, we offer free tea, coffee, water, fruit and much more. If you take all that into account – I would say that Palma Coliving is very much affordable.

How does one get a place at a Palma Coliving house?

You fill in an application form; there is a selection process and an interview with a member of our team. All this is done to ensure that we truly connect like-minded people who fit in well with each other and with our values. On top of that, each house has a Happiness Officer, whose role is to welcome the new arrival, introduce them to the other guests and make sure they have what they need in order to start their life in a new city. In our welcome packs we include maps, recommendations and discount offers from numerous partners in each city.

How long do the people typically stay at Palma Coliving properties?

We have a policy of a minimum one month stay. This is necessary so that our guest benefit from our lifestyle and connections they make while with us. There is no maximum stay limit, but people usually move on after about three months, either to another city if they are true digital nomads, or to a permanent property if they fall in love with one of our cities and decide to make it their home. Sometimes they will go from, say, our property in Palma to our property in Valencia, as they can be sure they will have the same feeling in every space.

Are your houses always full? Are there waiting lists?

In the high season we are usually full and there are waiting lists. In the low season we still have about 70% occupancy in any of our houses.

How does Palma Coliving integrate into the community?

We collaborate with many local brands. At all our houses we offer free coffee form a Spanish brand, free fresh fruit bought from a local cooperative and 0km filtered water. With our guests we regularly participate in beach clean-ups and other activities in the community.

What is next for you?

The opening of our second house in Mallorca is set for the beginning of May and we are accepting applications already. Other than that, we are planning expand to 10 properties in Spain by the end of the year. We are looking for real estate friends to help us acquire and renovate more properties. Our goal is to set up 30 houses in urban seaside locations all over Europe in the next five years.

Premium coliving sounds like an exciting new way to live and work! Perhaps you have started a global trend right here in Mallorca? I wish you the best of luck!

I certainly hope so! Thank you!