A lot of people have been asking me why I am restoring this Colonial property and what I am going to do with it. Well now is the time to reveal all. It was a dream of mine from a young age to travel, I just wanted to get out and see the world but time was ticking away when I was living in the UK and at the age of 26 I left on what was meant to be a two year around the world trip. Well it has been 5 years, 25 countries and I still have not been back so mission accomplished I guess. Before I left I had travelled in Europe and stayed at backpacker’s hostels in a few countries and always enjoyed them, by the time I made it through Central and South America I was hooked!
At that point I realized what I wanted to do… welcome to Island Life Backpackers’ Hostel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I plan on opening within the next couple of months when I have finished restorations. It has almost been a year of building work – longer than expected but good things come to those who wait!
I am really pleased with the progress. I have been called crazy quite a few times when I started the project and I can understand why – all you need is to look back at the photos at the start of this blog. I still find it hard to believe how far the project has come.
So what is my vision? The decision to open up Island Life Backpackers’ Hostel would have seemed strange to me when I first started my travels – my response would have been “who goes backpacking in the Caribbean?”.
I had been living here for around three years when I realized that this was the place I wanted to open a hostel. There are so many successful hostels in the world and I have to say the area that is best set up for them is Central and South America. I wanted to replicate this in an area not yet fully set up for backpackers and budget conscious travellers.
Coming from the United Kingdom a lot of people think that the Caribbean is for the rich and that if you step out of your all inclusive hotel you are going to be in trouble – stereotypes that are there to be proven wrong. Another problem that many people; including myself found when first coming into Santo Domingo was the lack of good quality budget accommodation – my aim is to fulfill those needs.
The Dominican Republic has so much to offer yet people just think of beaches. Don’t get me wrong I am a beach person and love them but the centre of this country is amazing too – ATV riding through the hills in Jarabacoa – jumping, swimming and sliding down the 27 waterfalls of Rio Damajagua or trekking to the summit of Pico Duarte the highest peak in the Caribbean. That is just to name a few! This country is ready to explore and we have made our base in the Capital, Santo Domingo.
I have stayed at over a 1000 hostels worldwide and each and everyone has their own feel. Some amazing and some not so good but I have learnt something from every single one. So what makes a good hostel? It all depends on the person really. I have had the funniest times at absolute dives, it’s not always the hostel you stay at it’s about the people. Ok sometimes you get unlucky in the way that there is no one staying at the hostel that you actually connect with – the hostel might have amazing facilities and perfect in every way but it goes like that at times.
Some hostels have made an impression on my around the world and I thought I would share my two favorites with you…
Cranky Croc Hostel, Bogota – Colombia
Now I have to say I didn’t even plan on staying in Bogota but I had to stop there for a night to wait for a bus. I am so glad I did – Capital cities usually get written off but I absolutely love the hostel and the city. Great nightlife, interesting sites and just generally a good vibe. The hostel had all the facilities you could ask for and the staff were great.
Hanoi Backpackers Hostel, Hanoi – Vietnam
Hanoi was the last stop on my 6-week bike tour of Vietnam and I had heard good reports on this hostel. Usually I tend to stay away from big so called party hostels but these guys had it almost perfect. Amazing place – they had two in the city and they are actually run by the owners which is good to see. They are from New Zealand if I recall correctly – great guys with an awesome place.
Thanks for everyone that has been keeping up with this blog and I will keep you posted over the next couple of months coming up to our opening.