How Savio & Pirkko Fernandes built Olaulim Backyards, to experience other side of Goa
#homestay - Olaulim, Pomburpa, Bardez - North Goa (Awarded Tripadvisor 2018 excellence award.)
YC - Tell us about your background - educational, personal & professional? Would also love to hear about your family?
Pirkko - Savio Fernandes is Goan, he's been working most of his life in the hospitality and travel trade. I (Pirkko) is originally from Finland. Savio and I met twenty-odd years ago in Goa when he was in the travel trade and I was a tour guide. We bought the four-acre plot in 2000.
Much travelled, we set about building our beautiful home by the Olaulim River, careful to keep away from the tempting beaches and its ever-increasing tourists. Conceived as a typical Goan casa, we have carefully melded together with the resident foliage and sprawling house, creating an ambience that surprisingly showcases an ongoing conversation between them. A perfect instance of the outside meeting the inside.
We have two kids, Manuel and Shameena, who grew up in India but are currently doing their higher studies in Finland.
We have a lot of pets as well, four dogs named Max, Shibu, Laku and Athena. Then comes Mantra the donkey, Scarlet the pony, Richard Parker, Fluffy and Silke the cats and Lilly the goat.
YC - What motivated you to start? Was there any turning point or incident in your life which led to your journey as an entrepreneur?
Pirkko -We had moved to Olaulim in the year 2000 but continued working for our respective travel companies. By 2010 we wanted to start something of our own, thus came the idea of a homestay for which we had a perfect location - Olaulim Backyards
YC - Starting something unique or creating a niche is always challenging, what challenges did you face in your early days?
Pirkko -As we didn't want to advertise or tie-up with online portals for marketing, our start was very slow. Over the years this paid off as we got the right clientele from the beginning.
YC - How do you manage expenses, typically what percentage do you allocate for marketing & sales, day to day operations and property renovations and enhancements?
Pirkko -Till today, we have not advertised. We do have a social media presence - on FB - Olaulim Backyards and Insta - olaulimbackyards. Most of the income goes into upkeep and renovation. We are very much hands-on in every aspect of running the place.
YC - Our readers would love to know the best time during the year to visit your homestay and why?
Pirkko -Basically, any time of the year is good in Goa. In the monsoon June - September it rains a lot. Generally, the Christmas /new year period can be a bit too busy and overpriced.
YC - A memorable trip is a combination of a great stay + lip-smacking food and unique experiences - what are the unique experiences around your area which travellers must explore?
Pirkko - Our homestay is just 11 km from Panjim, 8kms from Mapusa, famous for its Friday Market. Dabolim Airport is 42 km away while Thivim and Karmali Railway stations are an equal distance of 20 km. Must explore experiences are :
Panjim is a quaint city with well-planned gardens and roads. This old areas or the Latin Quarter called FONTAINHAS is definitely worth a walk with restaurants like Venite and Viva Panjim heaven for Goan and other Mediterranean and Portuguese dishes.
Reis Magos Fort built during the Portuguese era and recently renovated by the well known Goan architect Gerard D'Cunha is definitely worth a visit.
The Flea Market in Anjuna, held weekly on Wednesday.
The beaches of Baga , Calangute, Candolim, Anjuna, Vagator are about half an hours drive. Mapusa the main market town of Goa is about seven km and Bicholim town with its earthen pottery is about nine km from Olaulim Backyards.
Arpora Night Markets are an interesting blend of Music, Dance, Shopping Food and Cocktails. Musicians from different parts of the world.
We have a lot of in-house activities as well - Kayaking | Cycling | Fishing| Birdwatching | Nature Walk - http://www.olaulimgoa.com/services.php
We can also arrange for Scuba Diving | Pottery | White Water River Rafting | Yachting.
YC - What according to you is the USP of your boutique homestay, for which your customers come back to you?
Pirkko -The location, activities (kayaking, cycling, birdwatching, village walks), our pets and the personal relationship we have with our guests. Our Tripadvisor rating is 5. Also, our onsite Backyard Café, run by the delightful Nikita, (Ex.chef The Taj Group) serves great food.
YC - Industry experts these days are talking a lot about sustainable and regenerative travel, what are your views on it and how are you contributing to the same?
Pirkko -We promote sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism in every aspect. Slow travelling, vocal for local are the main trends travellers should aim for.
YC - COVID 19 has immensely affected the tourism sector, how are you coping with it and what would you suggest to your fellow boutique homestay owners?
Pirkko -It has been a tough one and a half years with Covid restrictions but fortunately, we have managed to cope somehow. We all have to stay positive and hope for the best.
YC - Based on your experience so far would you have any advice for new Entrepreneurs.
Running a homestay is a lifestyle that we would recommend full-heartedly although it is, of course, lots of hard work.
For us, the best part has been and is meeting lots of wonderful people of whom many become dear friends.
For Booking please contact - Pirkko @ +91 9326017731 OR visit http://www.olaulimgoa.com/index.php
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