Just returned from Down Under, Select travel consultant Johan Paloheimo talks about two amazing Australian islands: Lord Howe, a Pacific paradise that belongs to New South Wales; and Kangaroo Island – Australia’s Galapagos.
Here Johan reviews Capella Lodge, a boutique gem in our Select Collection. His next blog will jump to Kangaroo Island…
|An unusual Pacific paradise, part of New South Wales|
Capella Lodge Lord Howe Island
As you approach the island after a 2 hour flight from Sydney it feels like you are arriving back in time, to a time and place when it all started. The mountains, lagoon and the mesmerizing ocean coexist in perfect harmony.
We realized our stay was going to be extraordinarily soothing when we were met by Robin from the Lodge, who said: “Do you need to work on your mobile?…eeh no, there is no connection...”
Just 5 minutes from the small airport, the lodge itself has the best location with fantastic views over the crystalline turquoise ocean, green fields, enormous pine trees, soaring mountains and, across the road, cows.
|A beautiful mixture of worlds, seen from the hotel entrance|
This island is a haven for nature lovers.
|Pines and palms...worlds to discover|
There are birds that fly backwards, beautiful coral reefs (in fact the most southern hard coral reef on the planet), subtropical rainforest, tropical rainforest, conifirs … an extraordinary mixture of tropical and temperate eco zones. Species that are found nowhere else include the flightless woodhen and the world’s largest stick insect that was feared extinct until its rediscovery on Balls Pyramid (islet adjoining Lord Howe).
|We snapped it ... the endemic Lord Howe woodhen.|
We saw so many sea turtles, different species of terns, birds, butterflies…you name it, they got it. But no snakes unlike the mainland Australia. So we are talking about paradise.
|Sand, sea and mountains...|
|Franjipani scenting the air|
|Conifirs mixed with green grass and tangled subtropical bush|
Food and service is top notch at Capella Lodge and since they have a community of about 350 island residents all tours are done in co-operation with local companies.
Every night you can enjoy pre-dinner drinks on their outdoor veranda from 18:00 – 19:00 and the sunset just in front of the lodge. The hotel’s bar staff compose a new drink for every evening, very delicious drinks indeed. The food is really good and the menu changes every single day.
On Tuesdays they always have a 7 course dinner, every other day they have a 4 course dinner. The menus change all the time depending on what fish they get that day, what vegetables they have received from the mainland and so on. Breakfast is a small but perfect affair, the only things that are kind of buffet style are the fresh fruits, toast and cereals. All hot food items like eggs are ordered à la carte and the chef always has a daily breakfast special.
Capella Lodge has only 9 suites and we stayed in a Lagoon Loft Suite. This suite has a ground floor living area and the upstairs room holds the bed. Both floors offer floor-to-ceiling windows and a patio with ocean views.
|Our lovely suite|
The highest room category is called Lidgbird Pavilion, which has a plunge pool, ground floor living area and upstairs master bedroom.
The owners, Baillie Lodges, have really thought of all the small details. Every suite contains a backpack for each guests staying in that specific suite, beach towels, AC, TV and other amenities.
My only regret was that we stayed for only three nights. Next time we plan a week or so.
What you do…
Outside the restaurant you have an outdoor lounge area with a plunge pool, sunbeds tables and chairs.
|Lounging at Lord Howe|
We did a snorkeling tour to a nearby island which was brilliant. We saw rainbows of colour and myriads of fish - the reefs are every bit as fantastic as the corals I saw in the Maldives.
|Paradise beaches and coral reef|
The beaches are lovely white sand. Every guest at Capella Lodge has their own bike, and this is the best way to explore the island. Hop on your bike and head for the beach, if the beach gets crowded (we are talking about maybe one or two other couples) you just bike to the next beach.
Since Lord Howe Island has a community and around 350 people who are permanent residents on the island Capella has chosen not to include lunch and private excursions in the room rate.
The staff at Capella are fantastic, you really get 5 star service.
The housekeeping staff work their magic every day, and the room was done every morning while we were having our breakfast. The restaurant staff are superb and they really know their wines and food; the service is flawless, nowhere near pushy. Just very genuine and with a very warm feel to it.
Who to go
Who to go
This is a five star nature experience - a very boutique, intimate and romantic Lodge for people who can do things by themselves – take a bike out exploring, walk, borrow the hotel car etc. Tours are all operated by small local companies, not the hotel.
How to get to Capella Lodge
2 hour flight from Sydney or 1 hour 45 minutes flight from Brisbane by Qantaslink.