Havannah Boat House is a boutique barefoot luxury estate in Vanuatu. Built in 2015 as a private estate, H.B.H opened to the public in March 2020! Not the best timing! We have been operating as a simpler product for the last 10 months opening our doors to local bookings in order to keep our staff employed, engaged and maintaining their skills. Currently our borders are scheduled to open to international travellers in October 2021 and we are looking forward to activating our original plan for a full service luxury hosted accomodation and event offering as originally intended.
Wedding, Milestone Birthday, Workshop or Lifestyle retreat…? Havannah Boat House is the perfect place.
Over our two properties we have a range of locations that are flexible and versatile. Across our absolute beach frontage, stunning timber pavilions and immaculate tropical gardens we have the capacity to hold from 10 – 100 people.
Havannah Boat House is a private estate with two beautiful properties which can be booked separately or together, both connected to The Making Place.
- The Residence – An award winning architecturally designed sanctuary for up to 8 people. Embracing sustainable principles, The Residence is relaxed beachside luxury at its best.
- The Boat House – A barefoot luxury couples retreat. Made from enormous timbers salvaged from Cyclone Pam, The Boat House is your very own ‘Crouso’ escape.
- The Making Place – Embrace the unique ‘Kastom’ culture of Vanuatu. Wake up your creative spirit and learn from our resident artisans the age old skills of pottery, weaving, wood carving, fabric painting and more.
// What were you doing prior to your business and why did you get started? Share with us how life has changed since being in business?
Prior to establishing Havannah Boat House, I was a living in Adelaide raising my daughter, enjoying my art and design and I was President of a committee of 20 women dedicated to fundraising for The Australian Ballet.
We bought the land in Vanuatu in 2013 to build a family holiday house. We fell in love with Vanuatu because of the beautiful people and the simplicity of life in the islands.
We engaged Adelaide based Troppo Architects to design the project because I was so impressed by their work that I discovered whilst I was studying Architecture at University of Adelaide.
It was very important to me that our project be respectful of the place, people and culture of Vanuatu. I worked hard to ensure that I utilised as many local Kustom handycraft skills as possible in the design of lighting and screens across the property and the use of Natangoura on the roof.
This was a beautiful experience that took me into the nearby village of Lelepa and into the lives and homes of the very gifted women who weave with Pandanus and to the village of Mangaliliu where the men weave the Bamboo. The people were so welcoming and very excited to be using their skills in ways that were new and could attract a different market and hopefully ensure a positive future for their children. The funds created by weaving are typically used by the Mamas to pay for school fees and health care for their pikinini’s.
In addition to commissioning weaving and local wood carvings I commissioned a bespoke dinner set from the only professional Ni-Vanuatu Potter Brent Malessas. Brent was a joy to work with and we started to try to find a glaze that would reflect the patina of Oxidised Copper that was a design feature of the property.
Another passion of mine is the use of materials that are appropriate to the conditions and will weather beautifully with a lovely patina of age.
I decided to use concrete for kitchen and bathroom benches because it is durable and can withstand water. The water in Vanuatu is very high in calcium that builds up and stains traditional stainless steel and chrome finishes…I worked with CB Ideal in Adelaide to create tapware that was raw brass and would age gracefully and not have to be polished and buffed daily to withstand the harsh water. I sourced raw Copper sinks for the same reason and for the antibacterial properties of Copper. I tried to avoid tiles and grout and elected to use locally sourced hand cut coral rocks for the wet areas. There is no glass in the property for both aesthetic, cleaning and safety reasons.
The whole structure is designed to be warm, casual, low maintenance and easy to live in with the warmth of age and patina becoming more beautiful with each year…age is to be celebrated.
As the project progressed my love and respect for this ancient pre-industrial culture grew and it became very clear to me that I wanted to try and work more closely with these very talented artistans…taking their skills into new territory and making a meaningful contribution to this society that had been so kind and welcoming to me and my family.
We lived in Havannah Harbour, just down the road, for the last 6 months of construction so that I could be onsite to supervise the detail and finishes.
Fletcher Construction, an NZ company, did an AMAZING job building the Residence under the Supervision of Glen Brown and a fully Ni-Vanuatu team of Tradespeople.
My daughter went to the International school in Port Vila and spent her weekends learning about life on a tropical island and all the wonderful opportunities that this affords; Horseriding, Waterfalls, Snorkelling, Fishing, Climbing trees, Playing with the village children, Jumping in muddy puddles in torrential rain, going to visit sacred caves and just being a kid away from screens and materialism…it was so wonderful to see her energy grow and her spirit blossom.
Within a month of completing the construction Vanuatu was hit by Category 6 Cyclone Pam on the 6th of March 2016. Havannah Boat House survived unscathed with just a ruffled roof and the loss of some big trees. We were so grateful to both Troppo Architects and Fletcher Construction for the amazing structure that behaved exactly as it was intended. Our friends and neighbours did not fare so well and the communities on the nearby Northe Efate Islands were decimated.
Because we had lived in Vanuatu for 6 months and Katie had gone to school we were far more integrated into this diverse community and the impact of Pam was felt very deeply by all of us. We immediately joined forces with our Havannah Harbour Community to provide immediate emergency aid and set up a group to start fundraising and providing some longer term solutions to the issues that were raised by Cyclone Pam.
After 12 months back in Adelaide spent fundraising and working with my Havannah Harbour friends both in Adelaide and ‘on the ground’ in Vanuatu to assist wherever we could we made the decision to move back to Vanuatu full time.
We were able to run our businesses in Australia from Vanuatu and my time was spent being a Mum and designing and building the Boat House and activating the Making Place.
Brent was the first Artist to join H.B.H – after Pam, his studio was destroyed and his equipment stored in a container waiting for a new home. I invited Brent to come and live onsite and we haven’t looked back. He is not only a very skillful potter but a very compassionate and caring man who also wants to work to activate Kustom skills and create new opportunities for his fellow Ni-Vanuatu Artisans. Nellie joined us next as our Master Weaver and we started to work on creating lighting that combined both Pottery and Weaving. Nellie is very innovative and has a good head for figures, a perfect addition to the team. Kathy came next and taught herself how to do fabric painting. Steven came on board as our wood carver and actually cried when he explained how happy he was to be able to use his canoe carving skills in a new way…
I ended up staying for 3 years and finally had to move back to Adelaide for my daughter’s education.
I am now renovating a 130 year old farm house on 9.5 acres in Mylor that is called The Laurels. Watch this space as it my intention to open The Laurels to the public as both an Event Space and a Creative hub where people can come and participate in cooking classes with produce from the very old original orchard, have art and pottery lessons from local artists and more!
I decided that H.B.H was too special not to share and am very excited to be opening to the public when International borders open. My hope is that people will not only have an amazing holiday but when they leave Havannah Boat House feel as though they have had a very real and authentic interaction with experience of the beauty of Ni-Vanuatu People, Kustom and Handycrafts.
I am very excited to have the opportunity and privilege to help guide the H.B.H Making Place team in the creation of desirable and bespoke Homewares that will take the Kustom Skills of Vanuatu to whole new market both within Vanuatu and Internationally. We are currently on working some commissions to create lighting, pottery and design for a number of clients in Vanuatu who have reached out to us during this difficult time for the country.
// Lets talk South Australia, What do you love most about doing business here?
I love living in South Australia because of the vibrant and dynamic art, design and food scene which has inspired me from a very early age.
I grew up in Stirling and would hop on my bike on a weekend and go and visit the very early Aptos Cruz to gaze at the beautiful cutting edge internationally designed furniture and primitive art collection that they had.
I do believe that this early exposure to international design products educated and formed my design aesthetic and eye and I will be eternally grateful to them.
I used to sneak out of the boarding house at Seymour when I was older and attend exhibition openings at The Experimental Art Foundation, BMG galleries and Greenhill galleries! I would chat with the artists, have a sneaky champagne and be back in the dining hall in time for dinner.
Another favourite escapade was heading to Al Frescoes in Rundle st where I would sit for hours over an 80 cent short black, draw and meet fellow artists… feeling very much a part of the dynamic and warm Adelaide Art and Food scene.
// Share with us a quote or mantra you live by…
I live by the mantra ‘Peace, Trust, Harmony’.
This ‘resonates’ for me and I apply to all and any situations.
I think compassion, kindness and respect are the most important qualities that a person can exhibit and strive to honour and instil these values in my life and in the lessons that I teach my daughter, Katie.
Get in touch with Miranda:
Facebook: Havannah Boat House – Vanuatu
LinkedIn: Miranda Hodge
Website: Havannah Boat House