18/06/2008 - 22:00

Luxury eco-camp puts Ningaloo on a platter

18/06/2008 - 22:00

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Located on the sand dunes of the Cape Range National Park, just metres from Ningaloo Reef, the new Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef safari camp offers tourists a wilderness experience with a few creature comforts.

Luxury eco-camp puts Ningaloo on a platter

Located on the sand dunes of the Cape Range National Park, just metres from Ningaloo Reef, the new Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef safari camp offers tourists a wilderness experience with a few creature comforts.

Formerly known as the Ningaloo Reef Retreat, the camp has undergone an extensive renovation and upgrades after owner Paul Wittwer sold a majority share to Charles Carlow, owner of Northern Territory luxury bush camp Bamurru Plains, and Stewart Cranswick, previously of Landela Safaris in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Taking inspiration from the luxury African safari camp concept, Sal Salis is the group's first property in WA and offers a unique style of wilderness experience in an eco-aware development.

Opening on July 1, the camp features five luxury tents built on wooden platforms above the ground.

As it is located in a national park, care is taken to minimise the environmental impact of the development - from the use of solar-generated power to composting toilets, hand-pumped showers and restrictions on water use.

Mr Carlow said the company would spend up to $150,000 on upgrades, including new, hand-made rustic timber beds, high quality mattresses and organic cotton linens.

Jarrah and yellow cedar railings have been installed in the bathrooms, with aluminum fittings.

A new viewing deck will be built in the main lodging area, with views across the reef to the front and of Cape Range to the rear.

The owners have also employed extra staff, including a chef and additional guides, and brought in a 4WD vehicle for touring purposes.

The camp is highly exclusive, with a maximum of 10 guests staying at any one time and a guest to staff ratio of almost 1:1.

Mr Carlow said the concept of Sal Salis was to provide an intimate, highly interactive and educational wilderness experience, with some added luxuries.

"We call it wild bush luxury style. People eat well, drink well and sleep well," he told Business Class.

"We're not trying to be a five-star room or lodge in the bush."

Sal Salis is the group's third property in Australia. It also runs the Bamurru Plains bush camp, located a short distance from the coast and the western boundary of Kakadu National Park, and Blue Mountains Private Safaris.

Mr Carlow said the group would look at potentially developing similar offerings in other parts of WA, with the state offering a vast array of natural attractions.

"There are not enough high-end products for the experiential traveller [in WA]," he said.

But the exclusivity does come at a price - about $685 per person per night, twin share. The price includes accommodation, all meals and selected alcoholic beverages, guided tours and activities such as kayaking and snorkelling.

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