Calle Isabel La Catolica #356, Zona Colonial, Santo Domingo, RD

Across the finish line!

We are open! Ok we opened over a week ago and I am a bit late on the blog but I have been really busy getting everything ready. I thought being as it was off season and that we just opened that it would take a few weeks before we started to get bookings.
Back garden – outdoor kitchen
Almost the exact opposite! Bookings have been coming in daily and we have had around 12 guests in the first 5 days so I am really happy. The guests have been awesome – all travellers/backpackpers – just what we are all about. I have put a big map up behind reception where guests put a pin in to show where they are from. No where near as busy as I want to be but not bad for the first week.
The Hostel still has a few bits and pieces to finish off and fine tune but these are being completed over the coming weeks. I have to say it feels like a massive weight has been lifted from my shoulders. The restoration has taken 14 months in total (add another 8 if you include the permit process). There has been happy times, hard times and times where honestly I was doubting if it was going to be possible to finish.
Common Room
I am so looking forward to the upcoming months, this has been my dream all along to open a hostel and now it is reality. Lots and lots of hard work to come but this is the part I am really going to enjoy.
Some of the finishing touches are really going to make the difference. I decided to call the rooms names rather than numbers. Other famous backpacker cities from around the world. I also installed electronic card locks to the guest room doors – so much easier than keys.
Room names and electronic door locks

I also installed a streamer on the common room TV so guests can relax and watch a movie or two at times.

Common room TV
The bar – although still not completely finished yet is looking good, I love the Caoba wood I used. I still have seating booths to make, the bar toilets to finish and the projector to put up but those should be completed by next week.
Almost complete bar

The dorm beds are all finished now with personal fans and reading lights with a big lockable storage locker for guest to put their belongings.

Dorm bed with fans, lockers and reading light

The private rooms are all finished. We installed AC in a couple of the private ensuite rooms the other day as an optional extra for the guests as it gets hot at this time of year.

Double ensuite

The front of the hostel is looking better – our sign is up, video door phones installed and I was hoping to have all the card entry locks installed on the front doors aswell but unfortunately I had ordered the incorrect power supply for them – so it will be a week or so before they arrive. I still need to cover up the wires on the front of the house and the electricity meter. Although I am waiting to see what they are doing with the road renovations down here in the Colonial Zone. They said that they are stopping on the corner of my street – just 2 properties before me. They are putting all the power lines underground so I am hoping they might do my block aswell – just have to wait and see I guess.

Island Life Backpackers Hostel
It hasnt all been plain sailing though however – about two hours before my first booking was set to arrive my pressure switch for my water pump decided to fail. Not just fail and not work – nope it decided not to turn off! Resulting in two toilets internals blowing and bust one pipe. I am pretty luck as the pressure must have been up around 80psi at least. So rushing to repair two toilets and digging up some newly laid tile work to to repair a pipe wasnt in my plans for my first day of opening but luckily I had it all fixed just in time.
Dusk – in the garden
We also have solar heated hot water now! I finally got around to hooking the solar heater up (6 months later) so our guest can enjoy warm showers – not that you need them!
I want to say a big thank you for everyone who has been following this blog, its always good to get encouragement. I do have a couple specific people I would like thank. First of all Katherine my beautiful wife who has gone through this whole project with me and has put up with me through this. My mum who has been a rock – its always good to phone home and she has been listening to my problems for the past two years – not to mention painting the whole hostel when she visited. Also to Kevin in the UK, I used to work for him back in the UK, always following the progress and a massive support. Ha, I felt like that was an award acceptance speech or something lol.
Twin room
I do hope some people see this as a bit of inspiration. Some were critical saying I was crazy and that it would never get off the ground here in the Dominican Republic. I know its very tough over here and you do hear about people losing everything – I know we havent made it yet – this was just phase one but I am positive for the journey ahead. There will always be obstacles and people saying you cant do things in life – but I did it – this was my dream and now I am sitting here writing this blog in own, now fully open hostel! Its a good feeling
Do not worry though I am going to keep the blog going – it is still a new adventure after all!

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