Owners of a Kangaroo Island resort, which has been destroyed by bushfires, have urged the world to keep supporting Australian tourism.
Southern Ocean Lodge hit the headlines this week when aerial footage of the devastated resort circulated in social media.
James and Hayley Baillie, the founders of Baillie Lodges, which owns Southern Ocean Lodge, have thanked the resort’s managers John Hird and Alison Heath for “an incredible job” dealing with the escalating situation.
They confirmed all staff and guests escaped unhurt.
“In reality this is a very emotional time for us all, and we’ve shed many tears over the past few days for the loss of a dream realised and a life’s work for us,” said James and Hayley in a statement.
“It’s hard not to remember the very first time we set foot on the site on Kangaroo Island’s wildly beautiful south-west coast with our baby son, Finn, and envisioned a luxury lodge that would offer an experience of the island to guests from Australia and around the world.
“We’re very conscious that at this moment of loss, it’s not all about us at Southern Ocean Lodge, but about the Kangaroo Island community as a whole, which has suffered losses as a result of the bushfires that reached around 40% of the island.”
With that in mind, they have donated $100,000 to a number of organisations following the incident, such as the KI Mayoral Relief and Recovery Bushfire Fund and the South Australian Country Fire Service.
John and Hayley are now looking to relocate South Ocean Lodge’s staff within the Baillie Lodges portfolio or the wider Luxury Lodges of Australia collection, and also plan to rebuild the resort.
“Stepping back from the horrific footage of the bushfire crises in regional New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia this summer, the bigger picture is that we need now to rally together and present a positive picture of this incredible country and all it has to offer.
“Your generous, ongoing support for Australian tourism is vital for the industry’s future and for it to best recover from these challenging times.
“While it might seem from footage that ’Australia is on fire’, there are many parts of the country that are unaffected and a host of incredible destinations are ready to welcome visitors from here and around the world.”
Other Baillie sites, Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island and Silky Oaks Lodge in the Daintree Rainforest, are still open for business.