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Intrepid ventures further into accommodation sector

Australia: Small group tour travel firm Intrepid Travel has expanded further into the accommodation sector, specifically venturing into the lodge segment, with the acquisition of Daintree Ecolodge in Tropical North Queensland for AU$5 million.

The six-hectare resort in the Daintree Rainforest, which secured the accolade for Oceania’s Leading Green Hotel at the World Travel Awards last year, was established in 1992. Intrepid has acquired the property from the Morris Group, which it had been part of since 2013.

Daintree Ecolodge features an on-site restaurant serving organic food, a wellness day spa, on-site waterfall and three nature-based accommodation options [Lagoon, Canopy and Rainforest Bayans], complemented by local activities such as guided rainforest excursions led by the indigenous Kuku Yalanji community, day trips to Cape Tribulation and Mossman Gorge, and multi-day tours in the Daintree.

Situated around an hour and a half away from Cairns International Airport and a shorter distance away from Port Douglas, sustainable practices are rooted in Daintree Ecolodge’s philosophy. The resort, which is both an Eco-Certified Advanced Ecotourism Property and a recognised Climate Action Business, features solar panels, minimises the use of single-use plastics and packaging, utilises eWater as a cleaning product instead of harsh cleaning chemicals, and works with local suppliers where possible.

The purchase marks the latest step in Intrepid Travel’s strategy to diversify beyond tours and venture into new verticals, such as nature-based accommodation, according to CEO James Thornton.

Thornton said: “As we diversify our offering, the Daintree Ecolodge acquisition marks a significant step in our evolution into an iconic lifestyle brand. Venturing into the lodge segment has always been a dream for us, and this move will introduce our brand to a new clientele while resonating with our core tour offerings.

“Daintree Ecolodge enhances our portfolio. It paves the way for more localised community engagement and presents a growth opportunity, connecting us with a fresh market segment.

“We’re thrilled to usher in this new chapter at Intrepid. With over three decades in the travel domain, we’re eager to extend our responsible travel ethos to a wider audience through this new venture,” he added.

Intrepid made its first move into the accommodation sector via a venture with Asia-Pacific [APAC]-based premium hybrid hotel network Drifter Hospitality Group in October 2021.

At the time, it was announced that the venture would see an initial eight hotels across Australia and New Zealand be branded as Drifter – an Intrepid Hotel – by late 2024 and 15 hotels by 2025.

Then last May, Intrepid announced a partnership with off-grid luxury lodging startup CABN to deliver more than 70 sustainable cabins in nature-based destinations across Australia by the end of 2023. As part of the partnership, Intrepid agreed to invest AU$7.85 million in equity to accelerate their collective growth plans.