Intrepid Travel acquires Daintree Ecolodge in Tropical North Queensland
Global travel company expands accommodation strategy; continues to invest beyond multi-day tours
Intrepid Travel has announced the purchase of its first lodge accommodation property, the 15-room, four-star boutique rainforest retreat, Daintree Ecolodge in Tropical North Queensland from Morris Group for $5 million. The acquisition is in line with the purpose-led company’s strategy to grow beyond tours by expanding into complementing new verticals.
“As we continue to diversify our offering, this new acquisition will play a key role in our evolution towards an iconic lifestyle brand. A move into the lodge space is a long-held aspiration for Intrepid and will connect our brand to an entirely new audience while seamlessly integrating with our core tour product,” says James Thornton, CEO at Intrepid Travel.
Last year, Intrepid Travel became a 50 per cent partner in off-grid accommodation company CABN, which has 27 properties across South Australia, including the new CABN X at Seppeltsfield opening later this month.
The six-hectare Daintree property is set against pristine rainforest and offers guests a boutique accommodation experience, with on-site restaurant and bar, day spa, natural waterfall and walking track. Built in 1992, the property has been part of Morris Group’s portfolio since 2013.
It offers three styles of rooms or bayans (Lagoon, Canopy and Rainforest) and guests can book and enjoy a range of activities nearby, including guided rainforest walks by the local Kuku Yalanji people. The resort has garnered numerous accolades, including the prestigious title of Oceania’s Leading Green Hotel in 2022 by the World Travel Awards.
The Daintree area is the only place in the world that is home to two UNESCO World Heritage areas – the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. At 135 million years old, it is the world’s oldest tropical lowland rainforest and the Kuku Yalanji people have lived in the area for over 50,000 years.
“As a global tour operator, we’re well accustomed to operating complex itineraries in some of the most remote regions of the world. Now, Daintree Ecolodge will add to our portfolio, allowing us to contribute in new ways to a local community in our own backyard, while also connecting with a new market of customers and to grow our brand,” added Thornton.
Daintree Ecolodge makes a significant contribution to the local economy, through its support for small business and employment of 15 permanent jobs, along with many casual roles throughout the year. The existing team will remain, continuing to be led by Acting General Manager Jody Westbrook.
The lodge is approximately 90-minutes’ drive from Cairns International Airport, with daily flight connections throughout Australia, as well as flights to Tokyo, Osaka, Auckland, Singapore and more. It is also approximately 40-minutes from Port Douglas – a base for exploring the Great Barrier Reef. Other nearby natural wonders include Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge, which are both easy day trips.
In line with Intrepid’s responsible travel approach, Daintree Ecolodge operates under rigorous sustainability standards. The lodge has both Eco Certified Advanced Eco-tourism Property and Climate Action Business certifications. The property also features solar panels which help power the resort, and like all Intrepid trips, customers’ stays will be fully carbon neutral.
Intrepid Travel operates a number of multi-day tours in the Daintree area, with existing connections to local suppliers and the Kuku Yalanji community. This includes a five-day Queensland Daintree Explorer tour, eight-day Daintree & Cape Tribulation Adventure, 12-day Brisbane to the Daintree Discovery and the 18-day East Coast Encompassed.
"This acquisition marks the next chapter in the Intrepid story, as we expand into the accommodation sector. We are excited to grow this vertical, bringing our 34 years of global experience as a leading travel provider to new customers and sharing our style of responsible travel with more people,” Thornton added.