Ben and Louise Lanyon took over the management reigns at Longitude 131° in January this year as a husband-and-wife lodge manager duo. Already familiar with the Baillie Lodges collection, Ben and Lou managed sister property Southern Ocean Lodge when it first opened its doors in 2008. For four years they embraced life on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island and all that comes with running a remote luxury lodge, and now they have relocated to the Red Centre with their three sons, Bosco, Cassius and Hendrix, for a stint at outback luxury lodge life.
Prior to working at Southern Ocean Lodge, Ben and Lou worked at a number of Australia’s iconic resorts and lodges. Whilst on honeymoon in Italy, a friend alerted them to the opportunity unfolding on Kangaroo Island. After negotiations from the other side of the world, they signed up to the exciting offer and found themselves as part of the opening team at Southern Ocean Lodge.
From the very beginning it was all hands on deck. The sun was literally rising as they finished setting up the final suite from last-minute preparations the night before opening. Ben and Lou thrived on the challenges of a new business and enjoyed seeing the lodge settle into its environment over the first few years. They “never tired of the guest’s genuine amazement at seeing the Great Room and the Southern Ocean view for the first time”. Ben and Lou also found great satisfaction in forging relationships with the Kangaroo Island community and many local businesses who soon became key suppliers.
During their time at Southern Ocean Lodge, they had their first child, Bosco, and his namesake Bosco’s Bar is a popular hangout in the staff village. They also bought property on Kangaroo Island, after falling in love with the “stunning and dramatic landscape”, enlisting Southern Ocean Lodge architect Max Pritchard to design their dream holiday beach shack for the future.
After leaving Kangaroo Island, the family completed a round-Australia camping trip, trained young hospitality professionals at the Queensland College of Wine Tourism, took a stint as publicans at an iconic outback Queensland pub and operated their own restaurant and catering company, the McGregor Terrace Food Project. Having stayed in touch with James, Hayley and many of the other Baillie Lodges ‘family’, Ben and Lou returned to Southern Ocean Lodge for its 10th birthday celebrations which “reignited our love of everything Baillie Lodges”. Later that year, James mentioned an upcoming opportunity to rejoin the Baillies fold at Longitude 131°, and “the timing was just right.”
In 2019 with their three sons – Bosco, Cassius and Hendrix – Ben and Lou moved to Uluru Kata-Tjuta. The boys are loving their school and new life in the outback, exploring their “big red backyard”, observing the wildlife (especially thorny devils and perentie lizards) and playing in the sand dunes behind their house. “Although most days we wish they would leave their sand filled shoes at the door before coming back inside!”
When asked about the difference between working by the cool Southern Ocean to the dry heat of the Red Centre, Ben says it is this major contrast between all the Baillie Lodges properties that makes them so special and unique. “The geology, history and cultural significance of central Australia makes it a must visit destination for so many people from all around the world… we love immersing ourselves in these amazing places.”
Ben is also a chef by trade and enjoys foraging for local bush ingredients, with a home veggie garden that “is the envy of the neighbours!” The biggest challenge they find whilst running a remote lodge is missing family gatherings, “But with direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Darwin… there aren’t too many excuses anymore!”
When asked what they love most about working at Baillie Lodges and managing Longitude 131°, Ben says, “besides the amazing mix of guests we greet from all around the world… we have a pretty special team of staff that are super passionate about where we are and what we do!”