We were once described as an “authentic soft adventure product” by an influential travel industry journalist, and we felt unnecessarily stereotyped. How can you summarise 125 years of history, five million dollars in renovations, a complete change in culture and food, and years of hard work and financial risk into four words ending in “product”? It’s not the way we would describe Pinetrees, but it does highlight some key points.
Pinetrees has passed through six generations of the same family, and each generation has transformed the style of the lodge to meet the social expectations of the time. In the 1950s and 1960s, Pinetrees was the domain of honeymooners who expected parties, dances, picnics and continual revelry. In the 1980s and 1990s, Pinetrees was a food and wine destination with long boozy lunches, afternoon siestas and big buffet dinners with bigger red wines.
Now, under our guidance, Pinetrees is a full-service adventure lodge with a long list of events and activities to help guests explore the island. Why hang around the lodge all day when you can climb Mt Eliza, snorkel at Neds Beach or catch a 15kg kingfish, and then return for a deluxe spa treatment, exceptional dinner and cosy king bed? We have a walking guide, spa therapist and yoga teacher on staff, and we’ve produced an Adventure Fitness Program so guests can burn calories (not necessarily lose calories) while they explore the island.
Our food is lighter, cleaner and healthier, the lunches are less boozy, and we have exceptional Mecca coffee at breakfast. Our staff are as genuine and friendly as ever, but we’ve discovered that including some international superstars – mostly from Europe and South America – does amazing things for the culture of the lodge. They’re always happy, and the mood is infectious.
We’ve also tried to refurbish the lodge in a way that reflects current expectations. We mostly use high-quality natural materials and products instead of plastics. We recycle as much waste as possible, we’ve reduced our environmental footprint through water saving, energy reduction, and state-of-the-art wastewater treatment, and we grow a decent amount of produce in our organic market garden. We’re also restoring an endangered Swamp Sallywood Forest in our back paddock with help from the NSW Government.
We’re not a five-star hotel – we’d need locks on the doors, pillow menus, in-room movies, fancy brands, unlimited WiFi and an overpriced wine list to qualify – but we are definitely a five-star experience.