Work Hard, Play Hard: These Mountain Towns Are Havens for Digital Nomads

Alpine destinations around the world are upping their coworking infrastructure, allowing more mountain-loving professionals to mix business with pleasure.

Work Hard, Play Hard: These Mountain Towns Are Havens for Digital Nomads

The new ski-in/ski-out coworking space at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe allows digital nomads to hit their deadlines then hit the slopes.

Courtesy of Tahoe Mountain Lab

Champions of a work-hard, play-hard lifestyle, digital nomads have splashed photos across the internet of their “office views” from beachside hammocks and metropolitan rooftops. Now, they’re heading to the mountains, drawn by the combination of brain-boosting forest air and outdoor activities. In response, alpine destinations such as Park City, Utah, and Åre, Sweden, have invested in improved internet connectivity and new coworking spaces and innovation labs. And for the truly nomadic, international collectives like the Mountain Coworking Alliance offer season passes to a selection of coworking spaces in many of these destinations. So shoulder your backpack and repeat the words of naturalist John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go,” but don’t forget your laptop.

Revelstoke, British Columbia

Located in British Columbia’s scenic national parks corridor, Revelstoke is one of Canada’s best powder skiing destinations. Thanks in part to its high-speed fiber internet, the town also harbors a blossoming startup culture: The number of Revelstoke residents working in the tech industry increased by 50 percent between 2017 and 2018. The town is now packed with tech entrepreneurs who develop wellness-focused products such as ski wearables and nutrition apps. Transient techies can grab a desk for $12 per day or $50 per month at Mountain CoLab, which opened in 2015, or head to one of the many weekly tech Meetups and workshops that happen in town. To accommodate this community, the city has announced plans to develop a technology fabrication lab, which will offer designers a place to collaborate and access high-tech tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters.

With winter slopes and summer hiking trails, Jackson Hole is a true four-seasons destination.

With winter slopes and summer hiking trails, Jackson Hole is a true four-seasons destination.

Courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Close to the hiking havens of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and home to the longest continuous vertical rise of any ski area in the United States, Jackson is a true four-seasons destination. The year-round appeal of the rugged western town has attracted a thriving network of outdoor-loving artists and craftspeople. Coworking space Spark, which was established in 2014, offers memberships for $100 a month or $35 a day. Digital nomads also flock to cafés such as Picnic and Whole Grocer for the free internet and fresh, satisfying local food.

Bansko, Bulgaria

Less than a two-hour drive from the Bulgarian capital city of Sofia, Bansko is situated at the foot of the skiable Pirin Mountains and is home to more than 130 cultural and historical monuments. With ample Wi-Fi, a low cost of living, and the UNESCO-listed Pirin National Park nearby, Bansko is a natural magnet for nature-loving digital nomads. Many of them use Coworking Bansko, which launched in 2016 and offers a package that includes access to the coworking space, a private room at a guesthouse, airport transfer, entrance to the nearby hot springs, and more, all for $540 per month in the summer and $624 per month in the winter.

South Lake Tahoe, California

A beloved California weekend getaway, South Lake Tahoe offers more than just sandy shores and ski resorts. While livelier than its calm northern cousin Tahoe City, the south side of the lake still offers access to serene hiking trails in the Sierra Nevada. It’s also more budget-friendly—and has a growing number of coworking spaces. In 2016, Tahoe Mountain Lab teamed up with Vail Resorts to give South Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort an on-mountain coworking space—complete with ski-in/ski-out access, laptop storage lockers, and a top-of-the-world view.

Space is a design-forward coworking spot in Whistler’s Function Junction.

Space is a design-forward coworking spot in Whistler’s Function Junction.

Courtesy of Space

Whistler, British Columbia

With more than 8,000 acres of terrain, Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest ski resort in North America, and in the summer, that terrain is threaded with hundreds of bike trails. The village’s year-round buzz has attracted a community of nature-enthused independent professionals who have in turn launched a number of coworking spaces. The Network Hub is only a three-minute walk from the gondolas and offers drop-in rates starting at under $10 per hour, while the aesthetically pleasing Space in the Function Junction district offers desks for $300-$400 per month. At EightyOne, a coffee shop and meeting space inside Summit Lodge, guests refuel to hit their deadlines, then power down and hit the slopes.

Åre, Sweden

This Scandinavian alpine ski resort town offers seven-month-long ski seasons and epic mountain biking. But those aren’t the only reasons that, in 2016, Åre was named Sweden’s most fun place to live and the second-best place in the country to start a business (behind Stockholm). The resort opened more than century ago, but now new airline routes from Europe’s budget carriers are bringing more and more international flex-workers eager to ride its 31 modern ski lifts. The newfound startup culture can be largely credited to House Be, a tech hub launched in 2017 by Spotify’s former director of International Growth, Ulrika Viklund, and digital specialist Andreas Eriksson. This ever-expanding organization offers 80 seats for “hot-deskers,” plus a Monday morning coffee club where local entrepreneurs discuss business, their Nordic skiing adventures, or the latest menu at local Michelin-starred restaurant Fäviken Magasinet.

Tech-focused entrepreneurs in Frisco, Colorado, have access to six different ski resorts.

Tech-focused entrepreneurs in Frisco, Colorado, have access to six different ski resorts.

Photo by Mike Murphy

Frisco, Colorado

Located in Summit County, the heart of Colorado ski country, Frisco is minutes away from six resorts, including Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, and Vail. Tech-focused professionals flock here for a lifestyle that features plenty of hiking, camping, boating, and snow sports. When it’s time to be productive, they head to EVO3 Workspace, a creative lab that opened in 2015. Open desks start at $249 per month, while a half-day pass costs $19. The workspace is in the heart of Frisco’s most charming district and neighbors some of the city’s liveliest restaurants, making it easy to transition into play mode with happy hour drinks at German bar Prosit or live music at Silverheels Bar & Grill.

Park City, Utah

Home to the famous Sundance Film Festival, Park City has long been a haven for history buffs and forward-thinking creatives. The mountain is dotted with 19th-century mining shacks, and this year, plugged-in skiers will be able to navigate those same slopes with the help of the world’s first digital mountain assistant, Emma, which uses artificial intelligence to respond to a range of related questions via SMS. Due to recent spill-over from Salt Lake City’s tech boom, Park City has also become a base for startups. Graphic designers and software developers often work from collaborative spaces such as the open-concept The Office or Assemble Park City; business executives usually opt for conference call–friendly private suites at The Prospect, many of which come with spectacular mountain views.

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