Lonely Planet Writer

Panama is offering a new way for digital nomads to stay, eat, work and surf

Imagine traveling the world, surfing the waves of unspoilt beaches, meeting new people – and still being able to work remotely with unwavering Wi-Fi, in a community of like-minded wanderers and digital nomads. All of this, at a price you can afford.  

The patio at Selina HQ. Image by Martina Gili

That is what Selina, a Panamanian hospitality network, has set out to offer. Bridging the gap between hostels and boutique hotels, Selina adds extra features like unique co-working spaces, yoga and meditation classes, as well as local travel experiences at stunning locations in Central America. Co-working spaces bring together people from different companies, industries and countries in a shared work station. The goal is foster an environment in which people can exchange ideas and grow in their respective professions.

Selina offers an alternative to hostels. Image by Martina Gili

Founded in 2014 by Israeli globetrotters Rafael Museri and Daniel Rudasevski in Playa Venao, Panama, the project aims at creating a whole ecosystem that revolves around a thriving community for whom the concepts of work, adventure and healthy living have started to merge. Whether looking for a holiday adventure or a longer ‘workation’, Selina offers accommodation that spans from dorm beds to luxury suites, to private and shared apartments, with a price-range that welcomes an eclectic crowd.

Local artists have designed this mural at Selina headquarters in Panama. Image by Martina Gili

Selina hotels and co-working spaces, which can be accessed separately or as part of a package, stand out for their artsy interiors and for the hovering sense of community which can be experienced both on-the-spot and across locations.  As local artists and designers are involved in the refurbishment of every new hotel, staying in Medellín will feel completely different than in the Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro, but the Selina experience will remain consistent throughout the network.

Selina Santa Teresa in Costa Rica. Image by Selina

Starting with 22 locations in Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador, the chain will expand to Peru, the US and Europe by the end of 2018. A recent round of investment has brought another US$95 million (£66 million) to the company, including from Adam Neumann, co-founder CEO of co-work giant WeWork. Another 200 worldwide locations are expected to open within the next five years.

With new urban venues opening in cities like Miami, London, New York, and in Panama City’s historic district of Casco Viejo, it’s not impossible to see mobile professionals giving up their apartments for a hassle-free lifestyle that would allow them to hop across the Selina network all-year round.

Words: Martina Gili