Workation experience Chantal

Chantal Ockeloen is an entrepreneur who established her own company, Novellu, last year. She has quickly become an expert in the field of workations and hybrid working. Chantal recently shared her workation experience at Van der Valk Hotel Barcarola.

As a business owner, Chantal has managed to strike a balance between work and relaxation, allowing her to enjoy her work without feeling overwhelmed. Currently, she finds herself on the beautiful Costa Brava, #costabrava, continuing her work in various serene settings, whether it's by the pool, on her balcony in the warm sun, or wherever life takes her.

In her upcoming insights, Chantal will delve into the world of hybrid working, offering valuable tips on what to consider when going on a workation. She will also share how staying at Hotel Barcarola along the Route de Soleil makes her feel at home, even when working away from her usual office. Get ready to explore the possibilities of combining work and leisure, and making the most of a workation experience with Chantal's expertise.

Day 1


07:00 |The alarm clock rings, the sun is not yet up but it is already starting to get light. I wake up rested at Hotel Barcarola, St Feliu de Guixols Spain. Ready to get going, explore the surroundings and enjoy my workation. I arrived here yesterday by car, via Route de Soleil, to combine work and pleasure for the next eight days.

07:30 |After taking a nice refreshing shower, I sit on the balcony enjoying my Nespresso and the rising sun. It is not too hot yet and I decide to open my laptop and empty my mailbox. I check my diary for the next few days to see when I have team meetings scheduled so I can plan this week smartly and efficiently.

08:30 | Ready for the breakfast buffet. The hotel's restaurant has a bizarrely extensive buffet waiting for me every morning, which you can even make into a champagne breakfast, however tempting the bottles of ice were, it's a bit too early and unwise for me as I want to finish my to-do's as well and as quickly as possible. I continue my route along the buffet. Spanish rolls, baguettes, toast, various cheese and cold cuts, 4 kinds of eggs, fruit, yoghurt and so on. After filling my plate, I sat down at a table overlooking the pool. Across the street, I see lounge chairs where I immediately think, "that's going to be one of my workplaces!"

09:00 | Back on the balcony in my room, I start the first Team Meeting of the week. We calmly run through Trello while my colleagues ask a tad jealously what it's like in Spain. I give them a quick tour of my room and we continue our meeting. We go over the figures of our ongoing campaigns, divide tasks and plan someday-starts for the coming days so we stay well-connected with each other.

10:00 | I walk back into the hotel restaurant for my appointment with Ylonka van Veenendaal, General Manager Van der Valk Hotel Barcarola. She has now been working at the hotel for 29 years and has progressed from trainee to General Manager. Full of passion, she explains what the area has to offer, what facilities the hotel has and where you can eat and drink best. Full of inspiration, I open my diary to add the activities to my to-do list. Our conversation is briefly interrupted by guests who come to say hello to Ylonka. I immediately hear how committed and hospitable she is.

13:00 |My to-do's for today quickly tick themselves off. I have entered a kind of hyper focus, I feel good and my pen (keyboard) is smoother than ever. I therefore feel that I can take a break from my working day. I swap my espadrilles for bathing slippers and start strolling along the promenade, 50m from the hotel. Ylonka already told me that the coast is incredibly beautiful, and now I experience it myself. So quite spontaneously I decide to hire a kayak to see it from the sea.

13:20 |While paddling, I secretly follow a group of kayakers paddling towards the rocks with a guide. I have never been in a kayak before and I must say, good workout for your arms and shoulders! Once closer to the rocks, I feast my eyes. I see cave after cave, which you can also go through, and dazzling natural colour paintings on the rocks. If you like diving, I believe the coral underwater may be even more beautiful than above. I decide to paddle in the opposite direction to isolate myself a bit more from humanity. I end up in a sort of cliff where I put down my paddle for a while to float quietly on the waves. How incredibly beautiful it is here!

Time flies by and unfortunately I have to return to the coast, so an hour is really too short and I definitely want to do this again.

15:00 |After rinsing off the salty water and taking a quick dip in the pool, I sit under the parasol by the pool with my laptop. I work for another 2.5 hours, enjoying a Spanish salad, answering questions I received in the afternoon and ticking off my complete list.

17:30 | As far as I am concerned, my first working day is over. I decide to sunbathe for another hour and take a refreshing dip. What a lovely peace and quiet there is in this hotel. No screaming children, enough space to sit in both the sun and the shade and incredibly sweet guests with whom you can have a chat now and then. Just like the staff. The woman, I have yet to ask her name, who works at the poolside bar has an incredibly friendly smile. I have made it my personal mission to practise some Spanish with her over the next few days and order another water. "Uno mas por favor!"

20:00 | I walk along the promenade, it's a full moon, the lights of the seaside resort next door shine towards me. I take a photo and decide to go there sometime in the next few days. There is a cosy atmosphere, lots of people on the street and every restaurant was delicious. Spanish tunes invade your ears. I hear and see laughter, which also puts a huge smile on my face. How incredibly relaxed and beautiful it is here.

22:00 |After having forgotten the time and my stomach starts to rumble, I realise I haven't eaten yet. To make myself comfortable, I go back to the hotel restaurant Dunes and order the 3-course dinner for €24. A spaghetti with 4 cheeses, a delicious paella and a fruit salad. I have to say, my eyes were bigger than my stomach. It is an awful lot but so tasty you really want to eat it.

Stuffed but satisfied, I walk back to my room and am welcomed by the fresh air conditioning.

Time to get some sleep so I can have another fun day tomorrow!

Day 2

07:30 |It is already the second day of my workstation in Spain. Today it is quite clammy and I decide to go for breakfast early while it is still a little bit cooler. It is still nice and quiet and while enjoying my breakfast, I open my laptop to go through the day's schedule. After getting rid of some emails, things get a little noisier and I move myself for my next team meeting.

08:30 | Back in my room, I need to change into something more breezy. The air feels clammy and I understood from the locals that they also suffer from it. So my neat work blouse is really too hot. I wonder how other people pack their workcation suitcase. You don't want but also can't take too much stuff, but you pack both business and leisure clothes. An online meeting in a beach dress seems rather inappropriate to me, but my ''business'' clothes are too hot under the Spanish sun. I often change clothes between meetings and my clean pile is slowly starting to run out. Luckily, there is a laundry service at the hotel which I will definitely make use of to stay fresh this week 😉

11:00 |A couple of team meetings later, the heat and the people who are here on holiday I see walking by from time to time still manage to tempt me to work by the pool for a bit. I sit under an umbrella so that the sun does not hit my screen, and alternate between work and a cooling dip. My next meetings are not until late afternoon, so this suited my schedule wonderfully. I get into a conversation with a couple who wondered how I could stay so focused on my work. I tell them that having a workstation still feels like a holiday and that I actually consider myself very lucky to be able to do my work in such a beautiful place. Of course, I also get distracted from time to time, but since I really enjoy my work, it never feels like I have to do anything.

If you don't like your work, a workcation is not recommended. It will be much too hard to resist temptation and you won’t feel as free. Tip from me: go on holiday to think about your next step;).

13:00 | Time for a siesta! Apparently, a siesta in Spain is being held less and less because even the locals like to start a bit earlier in order to finish work earlier. However, the concept of siesta appeals to me. You can really take a break from work to recharge yourself. To then get back to work with fresh energy. I don't know about you, but in the Netherlands I often have a dip after lunch and it often takes me a while to regain my focus.

13:30 | Instead of having an extensive lunch or sleeping, I went for a walk. During office days in the Netherlands, I often don't even achieve 2,000 steps in a day (oops, sorry trainer!). If we are talking about vitality, I should go for a walk more often just like on this workcation! I do compensate by going to the gym a bit more often, but really, my average working day could be a bit more active. During a workcation, I find that I do that much more easily. New surroundings, new impressions and beautiful views make it an easy choice to get away from your workplace for a while. Lovely!

14:30 |After more than 7500 steps, I return to my room with almost a 100 photos and videos. I had walked along the coastline and got to admire and walk around the most beautiful medieval architecture. I feel slightly sweaty but a lot fresher than before I started walking.

Another tip from me, this time to employers: give your employees more freedom and space to go on a workcation, perhaps even as a group to work together. Employees become genuinely happier, learn to plan better and become more vital. And loyalty to the employer will increase a lot!

18:00 | Since I enjoyed a slightly longer lunch break in the afternoon, I also have to work a little longer today to clear my to-do's for the day. Half an hour later, I close my laptop and walk back to the swimming pool to end the working day with a refreshing dip. Back in my room, I am surprised by a bucket of ice and a cold bottle of Toos Rose! By now sincerely my favourite rosé, not only because of the taste but also because of the story behind it. Although I actually prefer not to drink on weekdays, I cannot resist opening this bottle. There was no card with the bottle, but maybe I will find out! Cheers!