Behind the scenes of Home Sweet Home
HSH Stay stands for Home Sweet Home Stay and was launched in February 2017. It’s not made by one person, it’s a full team of hard and heart work, amazing local hosts and wonderful travellers, who made Home Sweet Home what it is today: A unique platform offering genius experiences with a sustainable approach full of Love & Hospitality! Sara is the founder of Home Sweet Home Stay and shares today some insights on how everything started, what her vision is and Why the world is ready for not another but exactly this booking platform: Home Sweet Home Stay!
Nice to meet you, Sara!
Tell us more about your ‘Why’, why do we need another platform!
With Home Sweet Home Stay we continue where other platforms stop. Others are perfect for a western mindset, for people who have access to education, are familiar with using a computer and have the basics in online marketing. Those things are a challenge in Indonesia: Locals here have difficulties with bank accounts, with their phones, they have a different way of thinking and organisation. We adjust to them and help them where it’s needed.
We didn’t invent the wheel, we just evolved and adjusted to the local needs. While you get full luxury in 5* hotels, our local hosts go beyond. Staying with us, you get an unique authentic experience – absolutely Not 5* but a million stars!
When and how did you get the idea for Home Sweet Home?
This basically started when I was travelling in Asia. I was living here and there, in Hong Kong and in Bali working remotely as a digital nomad. Every weekend in Bali I went to the east coast for snorkelling and freediving.
I love meeting people, didn’t really make plans on where to stay, so I ended up at a new place each time. People kept asking me what I am doing (sitting on my computer a few hours a day) and asked me for websites! Quickly I realized there is a potential, there is ‘something’ I want to do to support those amazing places. In this second, Home Sweet Home Stay was born.
I want to create a platform where everybody has a fair chance and not only those who know how marketing works. I met so many open hearts, amazing people with a heart full of love & hospitality. And that’s the reason most of us are travelling, right?
What is your ultimate goal in the work that you do?
I really want to build a ‘karma business’, inspired by the culture and the hinduism in Bali! Backpackers usually have less to give than a family, just like I am able to give more than I was a few years ago. We are all the same, but different: There is no separation in us humans, but in our state of life. I think we are privileged, especially people from the West, with our education and knowledge. Some people here are not (if we take education as a measurement), so I simply want to help them. For now we have Bali, Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores and a few places in Sumatra. But Indonesia is big, so is South East Asia and so is the world.
Do you have any advice on sustainable travelling?
It’s actually very easy to keep our eyes open. Most important is the awareness of our own responsibility. Of course we can come to Bali and complain about the traffic and the trash, but we are part of the traffic and plastic problem. Judging is always the ‘easiest’. All those plastic bottles which end in the ocean are mostly bought by us. Sometimes there is no way around the plastic bottle, but there is also a refill station and other things we can do. So nothing needs to be perfect, but if we keep our eyes open, we can grow our awareness of our responsibility for what we are doing with this planet. Every movement, every ticket, every paper, every plastic bag. This is not only for Bali and Indonesia, this is a way of life and thinking. There is an amazing list of things you can do on Sustainable Travelling made easy: How to be aware & care!
A friend told me about this amazing beauty making class in Ubud. They use all natural ingredients to make your own shampoo, lotion, sunscreen, body scrub. It’s made out of rice, coconut oil, turmeric and much more nature gave us. This is also a way to travel sustainable – you don’t only support the local farmers and the school but also nature in simply making your own. Specially the lotion I make quite often!
What happened so far and what stands out most of the story of Home Sweet Home?
There is many special stories. My favourite one is about Buda Homestay in Lemukih. I met Buda and he is dedicated to happiness and one of the most remarkable people I have met so far in my life. He is very very pure. He wants to make everything fine for you, your friends, nature, the community, he is love and peace in person. He does not charge any money, he just takes donations. His name not only is Buda, he is kind of a Buddha. I am very inspired by his way of living.
Even though Buda studied tourism, promotion and marketing aren’t his strength. We have actually found this place in a Facebook group. Some travellers randomly met Buda and recommended it. From there the story started. We visited it, listed it, more people came, and read yourself what people say:
‘Buda and his family was the most lovely host a visitor could imagine.’
‘Buda’s Homestay is exceptional. Buda, his family and his friends were the loveliest people I ever met in a homestay.’
‘I had the best two days of my entire life when visiting Buda and his family.It’s for sure not 5* but a million stars!‘
What else have you found through your ‘treasure hunt’?
There is so many magical places out there and it literally is a treasure hunt! 2 years ago I have met Ari, Ari now really is like my auntie. She is the owner of Ari Homestay which is a magical place I also go myself very often just to take a few days off. It’s a perfect place to disconnect from the world and reconnect with myself and nature.
After hiking down some cliffs, you get prime location on a white sand beach, only four rooms, amazing food, amazing hospitality, right at the water where you can swim and surf. I just love taking a standup paddle board and go out for the sunset. Ari and her family are really the sweetest, I am very grateful to have met her. Till today they are on no other platform but Home Sweet Home – It’s very unique and purest magic – again, not 5* but a million stars at Ari Homestay.
Another magical place is Made Suardani which is like a cliff top accommodation. It’s super hidden, you are hiking along the cliffs and than you will end up in little simple bamboo huts with a priceless view! Find peace on cliffs of Impossible Beach at Made Suardani.
I also have met a wonderful and very inspiring woman in Flores. Ibu Susi is a woman I really admire. All the money she raises with the homestay goes to the community. Disabled people get rejected from the community, and she helps them, gives them jobs and trains them to train other disabled people. So that’s really amazing, they do bamboo straws, recycling bags and many other things. She is memorable, she is such a power woman and one of Indonesia’s voices. The homestay is called Pantai Paris Homestay and definitely worth a visit!
How does the treasure hunt look like?
What started as a dream is now a global journey of belief, passion, and love. We travel around, visit 99% of the places and find amazing treasures. New faces, new smiles, new stories – amazing experiences and memories. It absolutely is a treasure hunt!
How do you find a balance between the worlds?
It goes along with the earlier question. For me it’s all about awareness. There is no wrong and right, for me it’s just important to not judge about any travel behaviour in general. What I do is just what I like and what is in my heart and what feels right for me and the locals. I love pancakes, but also smoothie bowls and pizza. But I might not create an instagram post of a smoothie bowl with the hashtag #balifood.
I think it helps a lot to open the eyes, to be aware of what we are doing and why we are here in Bali or Indonesia. Are we really here to get this picture of this bay in Nusa Penida, or this waterfall? Or is it the culture? So what is it what we are here for? Too often the moment, the now, gets lost. Through my eyes the world isn’t black and white. My decisions are based on value, respect and support.