When it comes to Leisure, the Passionate Entrepreneur is your friend

Only when you get a bit older do you look back and realise why your parents did the things that they did – hindsight is a fabulous thing.  And when it comes to leisure our father cottoned on to something 30+ years ago that still holds as true today as it did back then – the Passionate Entrepreneur is your friend.

the Passionate Entrepreneur is your friend

When we were growing up Dad used to take us on holiday at least once a year, sometimes we stayed in the UK, other times we ventured to Europe on a driving holiday and occasionally we would travel further afield to the USA or South Africa. Whilst the locations would change one thing never did, wherever possible Dad would use small businesses throughout every aspect of the holiday. The travel agent would be an expert in the area we went to, the accommodation would be a small B&B or hotel run by a local family, breakfast would be from the local bakery, wherever possible we would eat in one of the local restaurants, not at chains, and if a choice of activities was on the cards we would head to – you guessed it – the one run as a small business by people who loved what they were doing.

the lone rangers against mass-market competitors

As Catherine and I started to brainstorm what Leisure Guru could become several words kept coming up, words like ‘passion’ ‘expert’ ‘unique’ and ‘local’. Clearly influenced by our younger years, as we’ve travelled the world under our own steam we to have taken on our father’s love of the passionate entrepreneur. Every now and again we want to take a moment to say thank you to these lone rangers who’ve fought to build their businesses against their larger mass-market competitors, because these are the people who can really make life-long memories.

making life-long memories

They’re the James and Pepsi Crockett’s of this world, who founded Jus’ Sail in St. Lucia by buying the wooden Carriacou Sloop ‘Good Expectation’ and lovingly restoring it so they could offer sailing tours, private charters and day sailing experiences.  I met James and Pepsi in January of this year whilst on honeymoon. We chartered Good Expectation as a rather extravagant way to get from our hotel near Rodney Bay Marina in the north to our next hotel in the south of the island. The day was eventful; we had blissful sunshine, pouring rain and gusty wind but through it all James and Pepsi were brilliant, teaching us about the boat, letting us helm, feeding us with Pepsi’s gorgeous homemade snacks and keeping us well hydrated with a variety of fruit juices and, later in the day, beer. Eight months on my husband and I still recount the day as one of the best of our honeymoon. You just need to take a look at the Jus’ Sail website to see how passionate James and Pepsi are about what they do, so passionate that during the summer months they also commit some of their time and resources to running training programs for local youth groups to give them an overview of yachting as a potential career path.

Good times on Good Expectation (Photos Courtesy of Jus’ Sail and Chris Young)

Good times on Good Expectation (Photos Courtesy of Jus’ Sail and Chris Young)

a man on a mission

But James and Pepsi aren’t one offs. We also met Orlando Satchell in St. Lucia, he was a mere month or so into starting his own restaurant Orlando’s from his home in Soufriere. Having travelled the world and worked in top hotels building his skills, he had taken the risk to leave the stability of that life behind and build his own business; he was now a man on a mission to bring Caribbean cuisine to international recognition. And rightly so, because his food was some of the best I have ever tasted in my life. Served al fresco in the small courtyard of his home with perhaps maybe 10 to 15 tables in the whole place we savoured every mouth-watering, mind-blowing taste. In between courses Orlando would leave the kitchen to talk to each of the guests; finally at the end of the meal bringing us his pick of the finest rum which tasted like melted toffee and caused us to zig-zag our way back to our hotel, happy, satisfied and in awe of how food could taste so good. In eight months Orlando’s is now the 2nd highest rated restaurant in St. Lucia, an impressive and well deserved rise up the rankings for a man who is helping raise the profile of his local cuisine whilst also employing young St. Lucians so he can teach them about food, service, quality and value to help them gain the skills to further their prospects.

Orlando outside his restaurant in Soufriere, St.Lucia (Photo Courtesy of Orlando’s)

Orlando outside his restaurant in Soufriere, St.Lucia (Photo Courtesy of Orlando’s)

now I don’t think you’re going to get adventure like that at Fitness First!

Move forward six months and whilst living in Bangkok I find The Lab, dedicated to helping their clients (affectionately called Lab Rats) get super healthy by utilising a myriad of different equipment from kettlebells, TRX trainers, ViPRs, to ceiling ropes. Founded by Richard Cohen, the Lab started life in a small studio in the front of Richard’s house, he’s expanded this to a 2 floor gym in the centre of Bangkok with a team of 10 trainers. But more than this, what Richard has created is a community; it’s unlike any gym I’ve ever been to before (in a really good way). Every one knows your name, every one wants the next guy to be the best they can be, every trainer is committed and interested in their clients and every workout is different. In 2 months I’m fitter than I’ve ever been and what’s more it’s really fun – so much so that a trip to The Lab is in Trip Advisors top 20 attractions in Bangkok! Once again as we’ve seen with our other passionate entrepreneurs, The Lab is also giving back by supporting local charity, Mercy Centre Thailand, even going as far as arranging a once in a lifetime sponsored charity trek to Everest Base Camp led by one of their trainers, Ross Norman. Now I don’t think you’re going to get adventure like that at Fitness First.

The Lab, Bangkok, lots for the Lab Rats to Play with (Photos courtesy of The Lab)

The Lab, Bangkok, lots for the Lab Rats to Play with (Photos courtesy of The Lab)

The Lab, Bangkok, lots for the Lab Rats to Play with (Photos courtesy of The Lab)

like being given permission to be a kid again

I could go on and on with this list; waxing lyrical about XO Tours in Vietnam, singularly the best city sightseeing trip I have ever done; Escape Hunt in Bangkok, innovative, clever and highly enjoyable (and you get to play dress up at the end – it’s like being given permission to be a kid again) or Cornwall Segway in the UK because very few things are as cool as an off-road Segway course amongst the old satellite stations at Goonhilly; or the joy of a great B&B like Rosehill Rooms and Cookery in Devon, a Grade II listed house near to the sea with the kind of outstanding breakfast you would expect from a B&B doubling as a cooking school..….

choose the unsung heroes of leisure

But I have to stop, not because I don’t have any more on the list but because it’s time to go out and discover more of these gems. So here’s to the passionate entrepreneurs, building their businesses whilst giving back to their communities, introducing you and me to a glimpse of the world they’re passionate about and helping us to make terrific memories. Next time you’re faced with a choice between mass market or one of these unsung heroes of leisure – go for the latter, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

 – the passionate entrepreneurs

End Note: We have not received any money or special treatment for mentioning the above businesses. In fact none of them knew that we were from Leisure Guru when we met them and used their services. We simply believe that when you see people working on something they love,  and are truly passionate about it and able to impart that passion and knowledge to others in a quality, value-filled way that they deserve to have their presence shouted from the metaphorical blog rooftop every now and again. If you know some other passionate entrepreneurs and want to do the same, tell us about them in the comments section.

 Written by Morag Young.