The lowering of border restrictions to Queensland has driven increased demand from interstate markets for Baillie Lodges’ recently reopened Daintree-based luxury retreat.
Following a quiet relaunch just prior to Christmas 2021, enabling returning team members and fresh faces to settle into their roles over the New Year, Silky Oaks Lodge is now ready to ramp up its operation.
Closed for 20-months for an extensive $20 million upgrade and enhancement, the re-born Silky Oaks Lodge has been fine-tuned, featuring an ultra-luxury 2-bedroom villa, new inclusions and local partnerships.
Craig Bradbery, Chief Operating Officer, Baillie Lodges said the reopening of Silky Oaks was long-awaited and like all businesses, faced disruptions in the last month due to the pandemic.
“We’re looking forward to coming out of summer with a bit of stability in travel and seeing a really positive pick up from March onwards,” Bradbery told LATTE.
He said feedback from guests over the first month for the new design and architecture of Silky Oaks was “really positive”.
The member of the Luxury Lodges of Australia collection initially opened on 23 December with 15 suites and will expand inventory to its maximum of 40 suites by the end of March 2022, in anticipation of a busy North Queensland winter period.
Bradbery believes the pandemic has expanded the appeal of Queensland’s tropical north to now be a year-round holiday destination.
“The events of the last couple of years have made Australians really embrace visiting North Queensland in summer more than they ever had before.”
“Interstate has definitely picked up since borders restrictions and the testing disappeared. That was certainly a real issue and causing hesitancy, but we’re now seeing more New South Wales, Victoria, South Australian bookings than Queenslanders, which is really encouraging.”
With no set date for international borders reopening, overseas markets also remain hesitant.
“We’re still holding some international business for later in the year, but we’re not seeing a lot of new demand coming in just yet. I think it’s just a matter of time.
“All our trade partners overseas are chomping at the bit to start sending guests over, so I think once the borders are opened, and that market sees that we’re finally open for business, it’ll rebound pretty strong,” Bradbery told LATTE.
All-new 2-bedroom ultra-luxury accommodation
The pièce de résistance at Silky Oaks Lodge is the new Daintree Pavilion – a 323 square-metre one-of-a-kind accommodation offering, which will launch in a few weeks’ time. LATTE is still awaiting official photography, but if the floorplan is anything to go off, it’ll be huge!
Stenciled off Baillie Lodges’ Dune Pavilion at Longitude 131 at Uluru, the Daintree Pavilion has two separate bedrooms with their own individual bathrooms, including an outdoor bath on a private deck, expansive indoor dining and lounge areas, and a massive outdoor area with hot and cold plunge pools, and sun lounges, fully surrounded by rainforest.
Bradbery says the Daintree Pavilion concept is inspired but the ultra-luxury villas found in Balinese resorts. It occupies the site of three existing suites which were knocked down and completely rebuilt.
Baillie Lodges is pitching this brand new accommodation type at couples who want “lots and lots of space”, the family market with adult or teenage children that want their own room, two couples that travel together, and two singles that enjoy the finer-things, but still want the luxury of their own sleeping space.
Also new are two second-tier Billabong Suites. These are existing riverfront suites that were refurbished and expanded to provide a much bigger living area to Silky Oaks’ standard suites, and now feature more deck space with a fireplace and signature element, a hammock, and an outdoor lounge.
Already available to guests since reopening in December, the Billabong Suites have “proven really, really popular,” says Bradbery.
Inclusions, partnerships and experiences
Silky Oaks Lodges’ tariff is now inclusive of breakfast, pre-dinner drinks, canapes, dinner and wine (with dinner). Lunch isn’t included as guests are encouraged to explore the Daintree beyond the lodge.
The property is also partnering with a number of North Queensland food and drink operators to showcase the local fare, including Three Wolves distillery in Cairns and Oaks Kitchen & Garden which operates cooking classes and long lunches.
Onsite, one of Silky Oak Lodge’s tennis courts has been transformed into a kitchen garden, with guests able to join a resident chef and learn about the garden to plate experience available.
Additionally, Silky Oaks Lodge has “upped the ante with its connection to indigenous culture,” Bradbery said, Dreamtime walks through the Mosman Gorge, and Walkabout Tours with Juan Walker continue to be offered, and the new-look lodge now also showcases a number of Indigenous artworks throughout.