For those who have heard of The Hosting Masterclass or stayed at Captains Rest, the name Sarah Andrews will be a familiar one.
If it’s not, don’t feel bad. It’s been hard to keep up with the author of Principles of Style over the past six years after her humble waterside refuge in Tasmania set her on a trajectory that would rewrite her purpose and connect her to thousands of passionate property owners around the world.
Now the spatial scientist turned designer and teacher is gearing up to launch her second Airbnb in Tasmania – a dreamy cottage called Faraway Farm. We caught up with Sarah to find out what’s coming in this next chapter.
You opened Captains Rest around six years ago now. Did you ever envision at the time that it could grow into what it has become?
Absolutely not, it was never the intention. I was going through a really tough time in my life. I spent my 20’s traveling, and then eventually solo sailing around the world on my own boat. I was so happy, I’d found my purpose (I thought), but it all ended tragically on a dark and stormy night. I sank my boat, I was rescued by the Mexican Navy, and I was literally shipwrecked on a far away beach for months before I eventually could be repatriated to Australia.
I had such a hard time being thrown back, violently and unwilling into modern life, and I was seeking to try and find a way to soften the blow. I’d always been so in love with Tasmania, its harsh and beautiful landscapes, it’s lack of people, its distance. I brought this little shed essentially for peanuts, because it was so far away and I could afford the minuscule bank loan. It had been on the market for 5 years. Perched on the water, abandoned. It was the perfect place to rest while I planned to try and figure it all out, hence, Captains Rest.
Tell us about the original makeover of that little shack on the sea. You’ve been quoted as saying it was so much worse than what you imagined when you first set foot inside. How long did the renovation take and what changes did you make?
Oh yes, it was bad! If you Google “63 Lettes Bay Road” you can see what it looked like when I first walked in the doors, having driven all the way from Alice Springs alone with a car load full of tools and my swag.
I had such suffering and searching inside, I went about creating the safe beautiful far away world I yearned for. My boat I had lost, a safe harbour. I worked on it for about six months. The drive to make a beautiful world around me that I felt safe in spurned me on. The nearest hardware store was a full day’s round trip away. And, I changed everything! My budget was minuscule, but it didn’t need to be big, everything was done by hand from things I had found or was gifted.
The transformation of Captains Rest and other projects you’ve done, like Captains Cottage in Hobart, form the basis our your hugely successful Hosting Masterclass. How does it feel when you see or stay in the properties of your graduates?
It’s so incredible to have had such a big impact on the landscape of travel around the world. Every top 10, top 100 or best stays feature is full to the brim with our students. I just feel so proud. It’s the best feeling in the world to have given so much to others who deserve it. And it’s more than a successful business, its financial and creative freedom for others to live the lives they seek, rather than those that are forced upon them.
Why do you think Captains Rest appeals to so many travellers?
Everyone can sense if someone is lying to them, verbally or in spaces… it’s a human sixth sense I think. Here, others can feel such truth in its beauty. In a world of so much imitation, fast trends, monoculture — this place feels so achingly real.
What’s your favourite thing about the stay? How do you feel when you’re there?
Six years of walking though its doors, and every single time it takes my breath away. There are places in this world that I can only describe as “thin”. Where the veil between this world and next are lifted. As if the distance between heaven and earth have collapsed. Captains Rest is one of those rare places. It moves every single guest, and myself. It has a power thats hard to put words to. You’ve visited, you know!
What are the biggest mistakes you see people make when setting up an Airbnb property?
I have a list a mile long, but in short — I feel most people think, yes, buy a nice place, make it look beautiful, job done. But it takes far, far more than that. It’s about 2% of it really. I’m sure you can all think of lots of lovely places that haven’t had the traction our students have. And its why all of our students, no matter what their properties or budgets just do so well. The most common feedback we get here at The Hosting Masterclass is, “Wow, I just had no idea what I didn’t know!”
Has slow travel always been your modus operandi? What do you think has driven the increased interest and demand for this style of travel?
All humans yearn for truth. Real, is a magnet for us. And this modern world we live in, every respect is so void of life. This is ultimately what I see that we can give to other in small or large doses.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Always from my dreams. I see what I do as simply the chance to create my own perfect, joyous, beautiful, wondrous worlds around me, and all different permutations of this. Some are inspired from how I saw the world as a child, or the happiness I had of living on my boat. Or maybe even what I currently yearn or day dream about. I see my world as world building. Creating spaces and places that offer protection from the fast, flat, harsh world I shy away from.
Tell us more about your next project, Faraway Farm. How did you find it, what is it going to be, and when can people stay!?
I often am asked why I didn’t just create 10 Captains Rests. But to have done that would have missed the point. There only can be one. It is irreplicable. So, I promised that if somewhere as precious and rare ever crossed my path, I would take my next journey with it. FarawayFarm kept crossing my desk. It was sold and put back on the market three times – another place no one wanted, and each time it had me up at night and day dreaming of all the Enid Blyton fantasies I had as a child. Of flowers and meadows and treehouses and picnics. Of fairies and apple trees. Of cutting rose gardens and a wild flower meadow with cut grass paths as far as the eye can see. Maybe even a pony. It’s my next journey, and the next chapter of my life.
You’ve travelled so extensively. Where’s next on your list and what dream properties are you dying to stay at?
Im so lucky to have taught so many around the world with such incredible spaces, what’s next for me is a tour around France of all the students I have taught in the past few years with châteaus. I cannot believe I am even typing these words.
I feel so lucky, I feel like I dream, awake. And I am very grateful. Thank you to so many who have trusted me to guide them, including you all at Life Unhurried.
Book your stay at Captains Rest here.