OUR STORY

We are Gavin and Steve – two guys from the UK with big dreams! People often ask us how we found ourselves here – usually it’s in the bar after a few drinks so the story depends on just how late in the day you ask. We thought it was time that we wrote it down. . .

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We had been dreaming about travelling for a long time before a string of random coincidences and just sheer luck converged, making it harder for us not to follow our dream of travelling than it was to stay working for a giant coffee chain in England.

We thought that a six month sabbatical would give us time to figure out our next steps in life and so we rented out our home, sent our two dogs. Sheppey and Brecon – to live their best lives with Steve’s Dad and set out on the adventure that would change our lives.

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We travelled by land from Moscow, through Siberia, Mongolia, China, Laos and Cambodia until we reached Vietnam. Half way through our Vietnam trip we met Rosie and Huw and from the moment we stepped through the palm tree lined gate of their guest house, our lives changed forever.

Haven guest house was hidden in a tiny fishing village in the middle of nowhere. The village was a little rough around the edges – the kind of place where you brag about hanging out with locals and experiencing the “Real Vietnam” – but not the kind of place that you’d find on a postcard.

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When you reached Haven, at the end of a narrow lane and stepped through the gates, it felt a world away from the village, our normal lives and anywhere else we had ever been. One day over a glass of wine, Rosie said that she felt it was her destiny to visit an old French Mill that she had seen online and asked us if we would consider running Haven while they went

We phoned work and told them we were not coming back. It felt like we had won the lottery and were being asked if we wanted the cash or not! We figured that we could get new jobs or just be backpackers forever (maybe it was the wine!) A few weeks after leaving for France, Rosie and Huw called – they had fallen in love with the Mill and decided to buy it.

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They asked us if we were interested in taking over the lease for Haven. So there we were – from Backpackers looking for the next step, to running a Guest house in Paradise! But it didn’t last long – the Landowners decided to sell the guest house and just a few weeks later the new owners arrived, deciding that they wanted to run the guesthouse themselves.

So we were back where we started – not knowing what to do – only what we didn’t want to do and now we had tasted life on the other side there was no going back. During our time at Haven we had met a French guy named Jullian who owned a strip of land next door and we bonded over our love for the village.

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Jullian had bought the land hoping to build a villa for his retirement but never got around to it. We flew to Saigon on a whim, spurred on by Rosie – and more wine! – to meet him and ask if we could stay on his land while we figured out what to do next. He agreed to let us stay in exchange for taking care of the place. We started with some hammocks, sandy floors and a few thatched roofs.

People would come to the gate and ask if they could stay – a few people did and they helped us build what became the original ‘Life’s a Beach’. We welcomed our first official guests in November 2014 and when a whole coach of tourists turned up at the gate and asked to stay, we never looked back.

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Initially it was just the two of us, our friend Miss Mi who had worked with us at Haven and our neighbours that helped clean in the morning and cook a family dinner for us all in the evening. Guests could help themselves to drinks and we all ate together every night. After meeting a charming Uni student who spoke great English – and seemed made to be a barman – we decided to build one for him

Mi was a great cook so we opened a restaurant and things snowballed as Life’s a Beach took on a life of its own. More and more people came – some came as guests and stayed forever. By 2019 the Life’s a Beach family had grown to almost fifty people, spread across five different locations but we still had more guests arriving than we had rooms for – we just couldn’t build them fast enough!

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However, all good things must come to an end and as the dark cloud of Covid-19 spread throughout the world, things started to become a little difficult. At first we thought that it would just be a storm in a tea cup so we tried to carry on as normal – by then we had already invested so much and we always managed to find that little bit more.

In 2022 things started to recover slowly but by then we had sold, lost or given away almost everything. Although the Covid years were tough financially, they provided us with some amazing experiences, brought those of us remaining even closer and made us realize what was important.

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Although we had loved the Life’s a Beach ride with its break neck speed and amazing highs, we had lost control of the train a long time ago. It was the wakeup call we needed. In May 2022, Gavin’s Uncle called out of the blue, reminding him why we were doing this and he offered some financial support.

It was another of those coincidences in life as we had just heard that our favourite spots that we had lost during Covid was now back up for grabs. We decided to give it one last shot, a fresh start. Back to square one, we risked it all, borrowing every penny to build our dream place. It's more 'us' than ever, with blind faith that others will love it as much as we do.

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90% of the builders that we employed were the same people who had built our original place all those years ago and a few of the people making your stay a great one today have been with us from the very beginning.

We call it “Life’s a Beach 2.0” because it feels like our second chance – although to you it’s just Life’s a Beach – the same faces (maybe with a few more wrinkles), same values and beliefs, a heap more experience and a lot less fuss.

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Our aim has always been to share our dream with you – including our love for the area and our friends and neighbours – in order to give you a truly unique and unbeatable experience, whilst ensuring that tourism benefits everyone.

We hope our influence is a positive one on everyone that passes through and those that stay forever. Welcome to Life’s a Beach – this is our dream and we hope you like it!

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TOURISM THAT BENEFITS EVERYONE

One of our main motivations for starting Life’s A Beach was to be able to do things differently and be the difference we wanted to see in the world. Our aim is to share our dream and our love for the area and its people with you to give you a truly unique and unbeatable experience, while ensuring that tourism benefits everyone, and that our influence is a positive one on everyone. There is no way you could mistake any of us for eco warriors or philanthropists but we feel lucky to live in such a beautiful location and live the life we do and consider it our responsibility to operate responsibly, pay a little forward and encourage others to do the same. You can find details of our latest actions on our Facebook page which generally involves organized clean ups, educational activities, volunteering and supporting those in need. Day to day we use the UN’s 17 goals for a better world as a guide and try to do our part by: • Providing free water refills and not using disposable plastic toiletries or straws to reduce plastic waste. • Buying supplies and engaging services locally as much as possible, • Minimizing water usage and limiting our use of local supplies by digging our own well, washing guests’ towels when asked rather than routinely. • Instead of a manicured garden we leave our land to grow wild and reuse the shower water to water plants growing naturally based on the season. • We aim for minimum waste, our food left overs go to our dogs and then to our neighbor’s pigs and chickens, cardboard, metal, cans and bottles are all recycled. • Reducing electricity consumption by Incorporating solar power, using LED’S, making sure appliances have high energy efficiency ratings and using automatic electric cut offs for rooms with AC. • Keeping the beach clean and encouraging others to do so, • Hiring local staff as a priority and offering free training to local people that would like to enter or progress in the industry along with the best conditions and benefits we can afford. There is so much more that we could do but we aren’t trying to be eco warriors or philanthropists just simply operate in a way that fits with our values and beliefs. However, we welcome your suggestions and feedback as we continue to grow into our role.

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OUR TEAM

Gavin

Owner / founder / dreamer

Gavin ...Read more

Steve

Owner

I am the founder of a homestay travel company,......Read more