Saturday, 28 March 2015


there are a lot of firsts…..

The summer of 1995 proved to be a hard one for me and Linda. We now had three villas in our care, all poshed up and ready to go and absolutely no bookings. From the sunny climes of Goa one minute we find ourselves in the North facing dining room of my parents place in sheepskin slippers and Aunty Betts chunky hand knitted cardigans (we were desperately feeling the cold) looking at a totally blank sheet. Kind of focuses you when reality hits home.
FIRST we needed some technology and a sales office. We called on old work colleagues, Anita Reynolds, our old boss in Sheffield, came up trumps with a secondhand Amstrad and dozens of floppy discs and Debbie Summerfield, who was conveniently on maternity leave, agreed to be at the end of the phone and fax line.
FIRST we needed bookings. So with our trusty little word processor,  a dozen floppy discs, one finger typing and zero advertising budget we set forth to tell the world about Lazydays in Goa.
For a small startup company Linda had remarkable success in grabbing the attention of the press. It’s quite probably because of the catchy but corny hook lines for the articles they wrote. “Busy days for Lazydays”, “Goa ahead – make my day”, “It’s all systems Goa – for holiday firm”, “Goa for it!” Goa with the flow, Go for Goa, Linda’s made a Goa of life, Goa getters, Pair with get up and Goa, When you gotta Goa, to name but a few. But we like to think it’s more to do with dogged determination and Linda’s persistence when she did manage to get a travel writers attention.
One minute we were local Sheffield girls, the next we were from Coventry, Wolverhampton, York and Bournmouth and the story “Local girls go to Goa” went viral  appearing in Wolverhampton Express and Star, Bournmouth Echo, Coventry Evening Telegraph, Sheffield Star and the Yorkshire Post. OK the Travel Mail would have been nice but baby steps….
Linda even appeared in a glossy magazine article about a selection of women who had made life changing career decisions.
You have to remember that all this was done by one little steam driven Amstrad WP, the photocopier at the petrol station and snail mail. It wasn’t until recently when saying goodbye to a lovely family of Mum, Dad and three daughters (early 20’s) that it really came home to me just how fast the pace of change has been in the last 20 years. The three daughters were interested to hear about the changes to Goa since we first came in the “old days”. They were puzzled at the concept of faxing between the UK and Goa offices – and that was only when the telephone line was actually working.
“Awww that would have been annoying but your mobile was still working though?”
“Ummmm no, no mobiles in those days”
“So you had to rely on emailing then”
“Ummmm no, no internet in those days”
“OMG you are joking”
I felt like Methuselah - Oh how times have changed!
Despite our homemade brochure, scant resources and even scanter knowledge of the publishing world, our modest success started to pay off and bookings started to come in.

Monday, 16 March 2015


and so the makeover begins.....

The biggest challenge I faced during the first couple of months was spending money. I was used to department stores with tempting irresistible displays of every imaginable household item, large out-of-town superstores with rows upon rows of decorative items. Mapusa, our local market town and nearest shopping centre came as a challenge indeed.

Has anyone ventured into Viranis? I spent many hours in there clutching my list. Most things were either in the ‘godown’ (I never discovered where this mysterious ‘godown’ was but it wasn’t for want of pleading with them to take me and let me browse in there) or, if it wasn’t in the godown, then a boy was shoved up through a hatch in the ceiling of the shop and after what seemed like an eternity would triumphantly throw a dusty packet down into the shop.

“Perfect! just what I wanted I will have six in that size and colour”
“Sorry madam – out of stock”
“Ok show me what six matching pieces you do have in stock”
“No sorry only two-two pieces” I came to realise meant pairs.
I often felt like I was about to lose the will the live. Before leaving the UK one of my pet hates was shopping but oh how I longed for a trolley and wide aisles.
The next biggest challenge was learning to ask the right question.
Dharmendra (DDK upholsterers) came highly recommended for any upholstery or curtain requirements. He was summoned to meet me at Gonsalves House where we spent several hours discussing the soft furnishing requirements resulting in a long shopping list.  I promised to drop the fabric off later that afternoon but Dharmendra somehow found it impossible to give me directions to his workshop struggling with opposite, behind, next to, in front of. To put him out of his misery I stopped him in mid flow.
“I know the village, is there a sign that can be seen from the main road?”

“YES there is a sign” he shouted triumphantly.

“Don’t worry then, I will find you” and I shot off to shop ‘til I dropped.

Later that afternoon – the car piled to the roof with curtain poles and bolts of fabric - I was driving slowly through Nerul looking for his workshop. Suddenly a very excited Dharmendra leapt out in front of me pointing towards a small building with the roller shutter door at half mast with just a glimpse of a row of sewing machines. Thankfully Darmendra had been on the side of the road that afternoon otherwise to this day I would never have found it. I was puzzled to say the least

“Dharmendra – good you were here, I was lost, I thought you said you had a sign!”

“I have” and pointed proudly to a large sign above his workshop that proclaimed ‘CHICKENS’

Despite the steep learning curve I managed to get our first three villas ready, photo shoot done and prints posted (yes I know posted) back to Linda in the UK.
Meanwhile life went on for Linda who was leading a double life at her word processor (note before Pc’s). One window open with a policy paper on some topic or other and underneath it the draft of our first brochure. Her colleagues, well aware of her escape plans, would walk across the office shaking the soil out of their trouser legs much to the puzzlement of her boss. Steve McQueen and Dickie would have been proud of Linda’s escape tunnel plans.

Sadly no copy of this magnificent first attempt brochure exists today (unless someone has kept one knowing they would be collector’s items one day).

The villas ready, the brochure printed now all we had to do was tell people.


foreigners can cook??????

By the mid 90’s Goa had been welcoming tourists for quite a number of years. First came the hippies and then the 2 week charter brigade. When we floated the idea that maybe some holiday makers might like to stay in houses (villas) it raised a number of quizzical eyebrows. One of the main concerns was who would cook their breakfast? We said they would have a cooker, microwave and toaster so they would do it themselves. WHAT? Foreigners can cook?
There are many people over the last 20 years who we owe a big debt to for their unstinting support and advice but none more so than the three visionaries I met next.  My mission was to source suitable houses of which there were many but I soon realised that wasn’t going to be the problem – the problem was finding a landlord who was happy to let two mad English women have a loose rein with their properties and also believed foreigners could actually make their own tea and toast.
A big thanks has to go to David Gonsalves, who’s charming Gonsalves House in Arpora, was the very first Lazydays property, David totally understood us and threw himself into the project with almost as much enthusiasm as we did.
Next there were the D’Costa’s of Parra. Isadore D’Costa still lived in part of this rambling old house whilst we took over the rest of it and he was to be a great source of pleasure to our early guests with his old stories and twinkle in his eye when he shared a bottle of Honeybee.
And finally Gordon Epps. Gordon had just completed the renovation of Saligao House which, of the three properties, was the closest to being “guest ready”.  Gordon was to become a firm friend and staunch supporter of Lazydays over the years to follow.
A big thank you to David, Gordon and the D’costa Family as without you there would be no Lazydays.
It was already May and time was an issue, I had to get both Gonsalves and D’Costa Houses as ready as possible before the rains hit in June making a photo shoot impossible. Meanwhile Linda was sitting, pen poised, ready to start the brochure………………….

Friday, 13 March 2015


so now what do we do……….

It had been a year of back breaking searching for that “des res” in the sun and all to no avail.
Linda was heading reluctantly back to the UK and I was staying on in Goa with no clue of what to do now. Goa had worked its magic as we know it always did. I was now well and truly growing Goan roots having lived in this mad place for a year and wasn’t about to head home just yet.
It was on the journey to the airport and out of desperation that the lightning bolt struck. We had seen dozens, if not 10’s of dozens, of wonderful houses all unlived in so why not a villa rental business
We were both died in the wool civil servants and by nature civil servants are not entrepreneurial, and certainly not risk takers, so for us to be standing in the check in queue at Goa airport planning – no not planning - hatching something so off the wall that would change our lives forever certainly went against the grain.
But that’s exactly what we did.
All our ingrained business skills training went right out of the window – no business plan, no product and no market – what on earth were we thinking.
Linda headed out and I was charged with going back to a few local home owners and floating the idea with them, I was to lease a small number of houses, tart them up, take a few pictures and Linda would write a brochure and launch Lazydays in Goa to the unsuspecting British Public – easy, what could go wrong?
So that’s how it all started


In the beginning…………..

It was 1992 and we were sitting on the beach in Baga wondering how we could escape the winters of the UK and do this forever.
Ambassador cars were the preferred taxi vehicle and Baga to Calangute was Rs12. A 2 course meal for 2 plus drinks set you back Rs180 at Sousa Lobo the only restaurant in Calangute. Phoning international was a challenge with the only international phone line 5kms away in Porvorim.
It was heaven and we were hooked.
It was to be another 2 years though before our dream became a reality and eventually in May1994 Goa finally became home.
The search then started for the old Goan/Portuguese house that would eventually become the little boutique hotel and bistro of our dreams.
With no estate agents the only way to find out what was available was to put the word out. We lost count of the number of taxi drivers/room boys/shopkeepers who beat a path to our door wanting to do property deals with us but after 6 months of bumping down tracks day after day reality suddenly struck us with a bang. The true horror of the bureaucracy meant were never going to find that perfect property where there less than 25 registered owners and, more importantly shock and horror whatever were we thinking of, what the heck did we know about running hotels anyway!!!!
Glum and despondent we took a long hard look just what exactly we did know.
We knew there were a huge number of amazing Indo Portuguese houses lying empty and in need of TLC, we also knew neither of us liked staying in hotels and we were both pretty good at organization and management and so the seed was sewn.