Lord Howe Island, Australia

 

Lord Howe Island
Lord Howe Island from Mount Gower. The island is less than a two-hour flight from Sydney.

 

For a genuine escape from the outside world, look no further than this island in the Tasman Sea.

Nearly 400 miles east of Australia’s mainland, in the Tasman Sea, Lord Howe Island allows but 400 tourists at a time. How’s that for exclusivity? This UNESCO World Heritage Site is perfect for the snorklers and surfers on your list of clients.

Onshore, visitors can tackle Mount Lidgbird or Mount Gower by foot or mountain bike—the best ways to explore the island. Golfers can stop by and tee off at the Lord Howe Island golf course. (Note: For those not inclined to walking, most resorts provide transport to and from the course.)

Capella Lodge’s Lagoon Loft
Capella Lodge’s Lagoon Loft is ideal for a family of four and has views from the upper level that extend to the reef-fringed lagoon, ocean and to the mountains rising ahead.

However, genuine getaway comes at a price. There is no cell phone reception anywhere on the island. Some properties do offer Wi-Fi; check before booking if this is important. Else, bask in the peace and quiet!

Where to Stay

Since visits to the island are strictly monitored, most hotels are small and intimate. Two properties on the island are earning raves: Capella Lodge and Arajilla Retreat.

With only nine suites, Capella Lodge allows only 20 guests at a time. The duplex Lidgbird Pavilion is the most popular accommodation (note: families will want to book the Capella Family Suite, although the Lagoon Lofts and the Makambo Loft can also accommodate extra people). For the best views, also ask for the Lidgbird Pavilion or the Makambo Loft—the former has a wraparound veranda with views of the sea and the mountain; the latter boasts mountain views from its loft veranda.

The spa has a single treatment room and reservations for therapies should be made at the time of booking. We hear the 75-minute Signature Facial—which uses local ingredients like wattle, lilly pilly and lemon myrtle—is the most-requested treatment, while the 90-minute de-stressing Kodo Massage is a wonderful way to calm the senses. However, we’re especially excited about the three-hour Dreaming/Ocean Dreaming treatment. (The “Dreaming” includes Mala Mayi exfoliation and body wrap, Kodo Massage and Capella Kamarl facial, while “Ocean Dreaming” comprises a pearl-and-kelp body wrap, Kodo Susu Dew body massage and a Beyond the Big Blue facial. Just the thought of getting one is relaxing.)

The Lidgbird Pavilion at Capella Lodge
The Lidgbird Pavilion at Capella Lodge has an upper level bedroom area with ensuite that opens to a wrap-around veranda. The accommodation also boasts a private plunge pool.

Don’t Fret: Guys won’t feel left out with the spa’s 75-minute Mountain Man therapy that blends together a back exfoliation, massage and facial. Contact Lodge Manager Libby Grant ([email protected]) to make arrangements for treatments.

The Lodge provides guests with complimentary mountain bikes, lagoon kayaks and snorkeling gear for use while on the island. Cool Touch: An electric buggy is available for guests to borrow for a quick trip, but it’s best to pre-book this. (Keep in mind, the island has no stoplights and the speed limit is 15 miles per hour.)

Grant is accustomed to pulling together over-the-top experiences for guests—her favorite, she remembers, was when they hosted a guest who wanted to propose to his girlfriend. He wanted a bottle of French champagne set up at Lovers Bay and the engagement ring put in a shell on the rock so she would find it as they walked past. The hotel set it all up—and it all nearly fell apart when the girlfriend didn’t want to climb up to where the shell was. It all worked out in the end though, and she said yes.

Note: For travel from November to April, book as far out as possible. Luxury travel advisors should contact Sarah Shields ([email protected]; 011-612-9918-4355) with any questions.

Arajilla Retreat’s Kentia Suites
Arajilla Retreat’s Kentia Suites have large private decks close to Old Settlement Beach.

Arajilla Retreat is shaded by banyan trees and Kentia palms, and is steps away from the beach. The Retreat has 12 suites, but we hear the new Arajilla Suites are the pick of the lot. Each has two bedrooms, a lounge, kitchenette and private north-facing deck.

The day spa, we are told, is the first of its kind on Lord Howe Island, and is housed in an octagonal wooden yurt (think small dwelling that looks like an igloo without the ice) beneath the banyan trees. It has two treatment rooms that use Ayurvedic techniques. Among the treatments, we hear the 75-minute Indulgence Gold Leaf Facial is tops. It uses the precious mineral to tone and stimulate skin; 24-carat gold leaf is massaged into the skin, followed by a herbal face pack. Teenage guests will appreciate the hour-long Hima Facial for sensitive, oily and pimple-prone skin. Spa treatments can be booked once guests have checked in, but pre-booking is recommended for busy periods. Luxury travel advisors should contact Kim Shead or Scott Allan ([email protected]), both of whom also perform the spa treatments.

 

 

ADVISOR INSIGHT:

According to Kerrie Strumolo of K.S. Travel & Tours in Wayne, NJ, Lord Howe Island has many selling points. “First, the island is less than a two-hour flight from either Brisbane or Sydney Airport,” she says, “both of which are international gateways from the U.S. So, it’s relatively easy to get there.

“Unlike some islands up on the Great Barrier Reef, Lord Howe Island has real sand beaches. Many of the northern Great Barrier Reef islands have rougher coral beaches, making them less comfortable to walk or lie on. The island’s restricted guest policy also keeps it natural, uncrowded and unspoiled.”

For activities, Strumolo suggests bushwalking, seabird watching or bike riding (“the main mode of transportation,” she points out), golfing or diving at one of 80 diving sites. “It’s only a 15-minute launch ride to get to the diving sites,” she says. “Those who are more comfortable with snorkeling can just walk off the beach.”

 

 

The Arajilla team can also organize special, private experiences for guests, like dropping them off via boat at a secluded beach for the day. Individual boats can also be chartered for two or for small groups (great outing for honeymooners or families). Ask for Doug to help plan these excursions.

When to visit: Aspiring artists will want to keep an eye out for Arajilla’s Artists Retreats—long
weekends when guests paint and draw alongside some of Australia’s best artists. Sports fans will want to visit in late October for the Gosford-Lord Howe Yacht Race or the LHI Golf Tournament. Note: Arajilla is closed from late June to late August. For special requests, contact Emma Shead ([email protected]; 011-612-6583-2622).

Getting There

The island’s airport is a five-minute drive from both Arajilla and Capella. Private tours of the island, some conducted en route from the airport, are included in most itineraries at both.

QantasLink operates two-hour flights between Lord Howe Island and Sydney or Brisbane. The island also has facilities for landing privately chartered helicopters or private aircraft.

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