The Baillie Lodges collection—located in some of Australia’s most striking wilderness destinations—has sustainability and ethical tourism at its core. Husband and wife owners James and Hayley Baillie reveal how they balance environmental responsibility with ultimate luxury.
How do you use the natural environment to your advantage at Baillie Lodges?
Our properties are located in destinations of unique natural significance, often in World Heritage-listed wilderness locations or adjacent to national parks and conservation sanctuaries. For our guests, a seamless encounter with the destination’s landscape and wildlife is key to the experience, and each luxury lodge is designed to blend in with the environment and welcome the outside in.
What measures did you take before constructing or renovating your properties to ensure minimal impact on the natural environment?
All of our projects involved thorough state-based environmental impact studies and approvals, and because we understand the importance of the natural landscapes in which our lodges are located, we include the latest in sustainable initiatives and make them part of the guest experience where possible. For example, at Southern Ocean Lodge, solar panels were lined against the boardwalk to the guest suites, and guests would see a daily report of the amount of energy generated from these otherworldly grids in the landscape.
Visitors to our lodges can directly benefit local communities and regional economies. And by learning about the environment and sustainable practices that are ongoing we hope guests will value the concept of traveling with purpose.
How do you keep sustainability at the forefront without compromising luxury?
It’s very possible to do both! At Baillie Lodges, we take a sophisticated approach to sustainability. While some initiatives aren’t visible to guests, we do lots of work behind the scenes on initiatives such as solar power, recycling and wastewater management for irrigating the properties’ landscapes.
What eco-friendly features of your lodges are you most proud of?
We’re very proud of our recycling efforts at Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island. Lord Howe is a small island, so recycling is a big issue and we’ve worked hard to ensure most of its waste can be recycled, rather than shipped off the island by barge.
Then at Longitude 131˚ at Uluru-Kata Tjuta, the property has been designed in such a way that it “floats” on the sand dunes and could be dismantled and removed without leaving a trace on the landscape.
At Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree, all wastewater is sent to the property’s own management plant where water is processed through a sand filter system and distributed around the property’s forested areas as irrigation via a sprinkler system.
Why is responsible waste management so important, and how do you manage it?
Each of the Baillie Lodges properties is located in a remote, environmentally precious location. It’s crucial that we manage water and organic waste in a way that has minimal impact on the environments in which we operate. Several measures are employed, from recycling and wastewater management to the use of recyclables and refillable guest amenities.
How does your business model help support and celebrate the local communities in which your lodges are based?
We’re proud to support local communities mainly through the use of local produce, which is, in turn, a boost for small businesses and regional economies. The use of local products—from food and drink to art and furnishings—offers guests a genuine sense of place and connects the lodge to the community.
We also partner with local entities. For example, at Longitude 131˚ we have developed a wonderful multifaceted connection with the Ernabella Arts community in the APY Lands, from which we commission Aboriginal artworks, run an artists-in-residence program, and offer exclusive guest tours. We also support the community with the salary for a resident ceramist who guides the artists and helps the community become financially sustainable, while at the same time preserving its culture.
How have your own travels influenced your approach to eco-friendly hospitality?
Although we’re not currently traveling overseas, we have had some incredible experiences around the world in the past few years and have been lucky to share these with our four sons. A highlight would have to be Indonesia’s Nihi Sumba, where our boys surfed. On this trip, we also spent time within the local community and learned about its culture, and we now personally support the Surfaid Sumba Foundation, which funds many local community projects.
What do you want people to feel after a stay at a Baillie Lodge?
We’d hope our guests feel enriched after a stay at one of the Baillie Lodges properties, that not only have they been supremely wined and dined, and spent time with the ones who matter most, but that they’ve had a real experience of the place, its landscape, and its people. In this way, visitors to our lodges can directly benefit local communities and regional economies. And by learning about the environment and sustainable practices that are ongoing we hope guests will value the concept of traveling with purpose, with lasting memories of their time spent with us created along the way. And of course, we hope they’ll soon return for more!
The Baillie Lodges portfolio includes Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island, Longitude 131˚ at Uluru-Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory, Silky Oaks Lodge in Far North Queensland’s Daintree Rainforest (currently undergoing a $15 million refurbishment and reopening April 2021), and Southern Ocean Lodge, which is planned to be reconstructed following the Kangaroo Island bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020.
images copyrights Baillie Lodges
words by Emily McAuliffe