Sarah Andrews: The woman who transformed a small town shack into a booming Airbnb

Growing up by the sea in Western Australia, it was clear that Sarah Andrews' love of water and adventure were anchored in her from a young age.

best Airbnbs in Australia
Source: Sarah Andrews

After dabbling in the world of spatial science, Sarah then spent the following years travelling and exploring the world but soon felt the pull of the sea calling to her.

Fuelled by wanderlust, Sarah sailed for many years across the oceans on a boat that she called home.

In 2008, the course of her adventures took a wild turn during a voyage across the Pacific Ocean when a ferocious storm sunk her beloved boat along with all her treasured belongings.

Airbnb tips
Source: Sarah Andrews

Having lost everything, Sarah spent many months searching for a safe harbour - a place that she could make her own.

After spotting an ad for an old cottage in a secluded seaside village on the Tasmanian Coast, Sarah knew that this was the place for her; purchasing the property without hesitation or even an inspection.

Airbnb interior design
Source: Sarah Andrews

When Sarah Andrews arrived at the property, the shack was in a desperate state.

Without power or running water, renovating in the small fishing village of Strahan proved to be a challenge as the closest hardware store was hours away.

Undeterred, Sarah spent the next six months rebuilding the heritage listed property from the ground up, transforming it into the tranquil haven that is now Captain's Rest.

"I renovated the place, really, for me in mind. I didn't have any plans to share it..."

But to begin with, Sarah didn't anticipate launching Captain's Rest on Airbnb "I renovated the place, really, for me in mind. I didn't have any plans to share it - I kind of needed a space that was mine and I didn't have any big things in mind."

tips for successful Airbnb
Source: Sarah Andrews

Things changed however, after a divorce left her in need of an income. After sharing her story and home online, interest quickly grew.

Despite being possibly one of the most remote Airbnb's in Australia, Captain's Rest has been wildly popular since it's launch and is currently booked out for the next 4 months.

Although difficult at the beginning, Sarah has now streamlined her property management. "I probably spend 10 minutes a week in total. It pretty much manages itself now."

Sheer luck or hard work and dedication?

While some believe that renovating and managing an Airbnb is simple and attribute Sarah's success to "luck" in finding the right property, Sarah makes it clear that she has in fact devoted a lot of time on Captain's Rest to make it the place it is today.

setting up an Airbnb
Supplied by Sarah Andrews

Sarah also notes that running an Airbnb can be easy in the long run but "to begin with you need to put in the hard yards". With the premise being that any place can be remarkable, as long as you give it the attention and love it deserves to make it stand out from the rest.

"...any place can be remarkable, as long as you give it the attention and love it deserves to make it stand out from the rest."

Airbnb styling tips
Supplied by Sarah Andrews

What are some top tips for running a successful Airbnb?

One of Sarah's tips is to develop a truly unique atmosphere through creating a "different experience that'll put people in another world than the one they're living in". Sarah explains that this can be achieved through simple things such as interior styling or buying a property that is unique.  

best Airbnbs
Source: Sarah Andrews

When stepping into Captain's Rest, it may feel like you've transported yourself into the mystique world of Moby Dick. Sarah Andrews' passion for storytelling and eye for styling is reflected in the space, with timeless pieces adorning every nook.

"Sarah Andrews' passion for storytelling and eye for styling is reflected in the space, with timeless pieces adorning every nook."

Feelings of old world charm are brought to life through carefully selected oil paintings, dried botanicals and Victorian antiques which Sarah travelled all of Tasmania collecting.

From a design perspective, Sarah saw to it that every corner of the cottage had a view of the sky and sea; countless spaces where you could get lost in the beauty of nature and stare for hours without end.

most successful airbnbs
Source: Sarah Andrews

After her success story, Sarah started receiving emails for advice from others wanting to prosper in their Airbnb ventures. After starting some consulting work, Sarah decided to share her knowledge through her own workshops.

The Airbnb Masterclass is a two day class that aims to help others to elevate their short term rental business through providing industry insights, practical know how and all the tips and secrets on how she achieved her success, from start to finish.

When not at Captain's Rest, Sarah spends month on month in different countries as a traveller and interior designer, working to capture the spirit and charm of every space she visits.

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