Jemby Rinjah eco-lodge at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains was a popular, award-winning wilderness getaway before the property, built by local civic stalwart Peter Quirk and opened in 1987, was destroyed by the bushfires of December 2019.
But it wasn't long before new owners came into the picture with a vision to establish a bush escape combining eco-conscious values with style, luxury and comfort on the seven-hectare site adjacent to the national park. The result is Chalets at Blackheath.
"We have been working with local experts, ecologists, and bush regenerators to restore the property," says general manager and co-owner Angela O'Connell.
That included removing the hundreds of indigenous plants sprouting from the charred ground so they could be cared for in a nursery during construction before being planted back when strong enough.
As for the built environment, the owners focused on "biophilic design", an approach to architecture that seeks to connect building occupants to nature. This means organic textures, colours and materials linking the accommodation to the landscape.
Four freestanding studio chalets feature a king-sized bed, wood-burning fireplace, and an oversized bathroom made of limestone, with twin rain showers and a deep tub. Details include Frette linens, fully stocked Subzero wine fridges and Moet & Chandon champagne on arrival.
Six more chalets are to be built as well as a spa and indoor magnesium pool.
Eco characteristics include a feature wall constructed to maintain ideal temperatures, rainwater harvesting with enough storage capacity to help protect the wider region in case of bushfire and advanced solar energy and minimal waste systems.
$1300 a night. See chaletsblackheath.com.au
IN OTHER NEWS
FIND THE WAY
Western Australia's new Smartreka maps use built-in GPS capabilities on smartphones or tablets to plot real-time whereabouts and directions in national parks, even when off network. Smartreka maps are available for more than 10 areas, including Fitzgerald River and Walyunga National Park, with more to come. See ourwaparks.org.au/smartreka
DOWN TO BUSINESS
Uniquely Fijian ingredients are on board in an overhaul of Fiji Airways' new business class menu. There's a kava and cinnamon ice-cream on the dessert menu and Fijian veggies such as cassava, yellow kumala, dalo and plantain join a signature range of smoked protein, including walu fish and beef tenderloin. Fiji Airways business class between Australia and Nadi costs from $1841. See fijiairways.com
YOU'RE SOAKING IN IT
Bookings have opened for Alba, the new spa and hot springs retreat on Melbourne's Mornington Peninsula, set to open in spring. The 15-hectare property that combines bushland with luxury is right across the road from popular Peninsula Hot Springs and will include a restaurant by Karen Martini. Springs from $95, spa from $350, packages $950. See albathermalsprings.com.au
LIFE ON A SUPERYACHT
For anyone who's ever cruised the Mediterranean and wondered what goes on aboard the flotilla of superyachts that glitter in the most glamorous ports, a new book by Australian Brendan O'Shannassy offers rare insight, taking a view from the bridge, rather than a gossipy fly-on-the-wall aspect. Superyacht Captain – Life and Leadership in the World's Most Incredible Industry; Adlard Coles, $29.99. See Bloomsbury.com