Christmas Island’s first luxury eco-accommodation Swell Lodge has opened its doors this week, revealing knockout views of the Indian Ocean and welcoming its first guests to an exclusive and unforgettable experience of this island destination.
Positioned on a sea cliff with floor-to-ceiling glass and luxury appointments, sustainably-designed Swell Lodge is set along the rugged west coast of Christmas Island. Pods of spinner dolphins play in the surf, while seabirds soar high overhead.
Swell Lodge is the first ecologically sustainable accommodation to be approved in an Australian Federal National Park. The groundbreaking new tourism project has been developed by intrepid travellers and wildlife photographers Chris and Jess Bray. The pair run luxury, small-group photography tours around the world and when in 2014 they started running tours to Christmas Island, they fell in love with the destination.
Located around 1550 kilometres northwest of the mainland, the remote Australian territory of Christmas Island is best known in the natural world for the annual migration of some 50 million red crabs, a spectacular event described by Sir David Attenborough as one of the 10 greatest natural wonders on earth. Water and air temperatures rest at an idyllic 27-29 degrees year round.
Guests at Swell Lodge can do as much or as little as they like, with daily activities including boat trips to the best snorkel spots, guided walks to waterfalls, beaches and blowholes, cave swims, a visit to the National Park’s research station and bird rehabilitation centre, tickets to the outdoor cinema, golf and access to a four-wheel-drive vehicle for island exploration. Optional extras include yoga and massage sessions, dive trips and fishing expeditions.
All-inclusive rates feature the services of private French chef Felix Legrand, with gourmet meals prepared specially for guests on their oceanfront deck using locally grown and foraged ingredients including wild-caught crayfish, wahoo and tuna, as well as coconut, wild papaya and more.
Sustainable tourism is a new focus for the Christmas Island economy, with the appeal of a pristine, tropical island, home to endemic birds and offering world-class snorkelling and diving in crystal clear, warm waters with coral reefs and drop-off walls. Resident turtles and dolphins cruise the waters while manta rays and whale sharks visit by season.
Chris Bray said he and Jess were excited to be pioneering the first luxury eco-accommodation on Christmas Island.
“Christmas Island is a jungle-clad island full of rare and unusual birds, crabs, waterfalls, turtle-nesting beaches and some of the world’s best snorkelling and diving, Mr Bray said. “Swell Lodge has been several years in the planning and we consider now is the perfect time to launch. With the island’s mine and detention centre winding down, eco-tourism is the new future for Christmas Island and has huge potential. We’re in at the ground floor with a product that’s truly unique and unrivalled anywhere in the world.”
Rates at Swell Lodge start at $690 per person per night and include all meals, drinks, a private chef, daily services, airport transfers, daily guided activities including snorkelling, walks to waterfalls in the jungle and more. A portion of the nightly rate goes towards conservation projects in the National Park.