Anyone who has stayed at Capella knows lodge managers Libby Grant and Mark McKillop. Resident managers since the lodge opened as a Baillie Lodges property in 2003, Mark and Libby have welcomed every guest to Capella with their genuine, relaxed warmth.
Guests might go out with Libby on her ‘tiki tour’ of Lord Howe, get Mark’s tips to organise a snorkelling tour on the reef, a swim with turtles or a dive in the world’s southernmost coral reef. They’ll certainly get together for sunset drinks and canapés at the end of each day, to share island adventures and plan the next day.
Many guests return to Capella year after year and catch up with Mark and Libby as they would old friends at a favourite holiday spot.
We interviewed Mark and Libby to find out the highlights of 15 years spent running Capella Lodge on tiny Lord Howe Island, a crescent-shaped tropical paradise found some 600km off Australia’s east coast in the Tasman Sea.
This year marks 15 years since Capella opened under your management and James and Hayley Baillie’s ownership. What are some of the highlights or standout memories you can share with us?
Too many to write about! I think the first refurbishment that we did in 2004 was a huge highlight as the lodge was transformed from a very tired guesthouse to a stunning property with great design. This, along with the hiring of fantastic staff, resulted in a great guest experience which remains the same all these years later.
What brought you to Lord Howe Island, and what has kept you there?
Mark and I have lived on island resorts since the early 1980s. We left Lizard Island to come to Lord Howe Island and work with James and Hayley. It was exciting to share the Baillies’ vision for Capella.
What’s your favourite place to go to/thing to do on the Island on your days off?
We enjoy the walks and ocean but our favourite thing to do is have a breakfast barbecue on one of the many outdoor wood-fired barbecues set around the island.