Lord Howe’s lodge of little luxuries
Sunday Telegraph Escape
by Jenny Stevens
Plump. Plain. Striped. Geometric. Exuberant. Comfy. Can there ever be enough cushions and day beds for lazy lounging?
At Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island, the answer is obviously not.
There are cushions on every horizontal surface – in the rooms, on the verandahs and balconies, in the garden, in the lounge, on the chairs and benches in the dining room, on the terrace. Not those useless little things that are just for show, but big squashy ones, the type that beg: pick me!
The day beds come from the “big is better” school too. Every view has one.
Even in suites made for two, the day beds are built-in on three sides of the verandahs, big enough to seat a large family. All the better to watch the glorious play of light on the blue lagoon and the commanding peaks of the island’s iconic twin mountains, Lidgbird and Gower.
Lord Howe is so beautiful that spending a big whack of a renovation budget capturing every centimetre of precious space to look at it is not a silly move. Indeed, some would say the view is the reason they go there.
Only a cow or a cyclist disturbs the picture: impossibly green grass, lush kentia forests, cobalt blue skies and water that changes from sapphire to emerald as t washes over the submerged reef.
Life on Lord Howe remains in a determinably 1950s lifestyle, the era when mum and dad told the kids to go out and play and be back by 5pm for tea. Locals and visitors like it that way and the governing body has a long list of ordinances to ensure no upstart mainlanders buy in and ruin it.
That’s why Capella’s recent $1.5 million transformation from a pleasant small lodge with quirky design touches to chic timber and glass seaside boutique resort caused a bit of a tizz.
It’s been open around five weeks now, and there had been so much talk about what former P&O Resorts’ managing director James Baillie and his wife Hayley, the daughter of adventurer and frequent island guest Dick Smith, were doing with the old lodge that the opening drinks party for islanders had a full turn-out.
They’re still talking about the changes : the loft suites, the day beds, the plunge-spa on the deck of the premium Lidgbird Suite, the heated infinity pool off the restaurant, the expanded outdoor decks, and even a trad ional widows’ walk at the top of the lodge, a nudge to the old seafaring ways.
When the electric bicycles arrive in time for Christmas to supplement the regular island transport of pushbikes, they’ll have a field day.
Each week, island guests and locals alike are dropping by to check out the menu devised by executive chef Crystal Raine (ex-Catalina, Pier, Longrain, bills and Restaurant Manfredi).
Needless to say, it’s not fish and chips, but light and aromatic Pacific cuisine, with vegetables and herbs from nearby gardens, fish from the local boats and succulent beef and lamb from the NSW north coast.
Capella guests have their gourmet breakfasts, sunset drinks, canapés and three-course dinners included in the tariff, so never see a bill.
But non-guests who visit the restaurant do, and it has them talking about that, too.
Although this is the first property in the Baillie Lodges portfolio ( South Australia’s Kangaroo Island is next in 2006 ) the Baillie’s have experience in luxury and adventure travel. They know it is the little thins: such as crisp cotton bed linen, king beds, bathroom indulgences, DVD/VCR players, a library, backpacks and picnic lunches and an enthusiastic staff that make a good resort a better one.
Lord Howe, with its glorious views, ambling or challenging walks, precious birds, wonderful sea life and laid-back lifestyle supplies the reason to go there; the new look Capella Lodge gives another reason to stay, indulge and total relax.
The writer was a guest of Capella Lodge
GETTING THERE: QantasLink from Sydney or Brisbane and seasonally from Coffs Harbour.
STAY: Capella hosts p to 20 guests in nine spacious suites which include the Lidgbird Suite with plunge spa on a private deck; a Family Suite with separate king bedroom and day lounge with two king singles; four Loft Suites with mezzanine king bed and a king single in the lower lounge; and three Capella Suites with king or twin beds.
COST: From $345 twin share in a Capella Suite to $395 twin share in the Lidgbird suite, to November 30; from Dec 1 to Jan 31, from $399 and $450. children under two years stay free. Child and infant rates available when staying in the same suite with two adults. An offer to stay eight, pay seven, is available outside peak periods.
WHAT’S NEW: A spa and outdoor treatment pavilion opens in December
DETAILS: (02) 9918 4355; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.lordhowe.com
Article coutesy of Sunday Telegraph Escape