The rise of slow travel – and three locations to try in SA

Lifestyle

The concept of slow travel boomed during the pandemic. It’s an approach that encourages travellers to value nature, space and conscious connection, over mass tourism.  
Naiko Retreat. Image: Supplied

Three years on, as travel returns to normal, people are prioritising purposeful experiences and meaningful moments over materialistic and consumer-driven luxury. 

South Australian tourism operators have transitioned seamlessly to this slow form of travel and they’re reaping the benefits. New figures from Tourism Research Australia show visitor expenditure in the state has smashed pre-COVID levels. A record high of $8.3 billion dollars was spent over the past 12 months.  

Three locations capitalising on this shift in traveller trends are Naiko Retreat on the rugged Fleurieu Peninusla, The Louise Hotel in the famous Barossa Valley wine region and Sequioa Lodge which is arguably SA’s most luxe new out-of-the-city stay.  

NAIKO RETREAT 

This isn’t just out-of-the-city, it’s off the grid. A refuge from daily life, with 2600 acres all to yourself.  

Naiko Retreat is one of Australia’s most idyllic, award-winning, luxury eco-offerings. Perched on the edge of South Australia’s rugged Fleurieu Peninsula, it’s less than a two-hour drive from Adelaide.  

It sleeps six people in three identical bedrooms, all with en suites and baths overlooking a small private cove with a sandy beach and sweeping sea views across the straight to the iconic Kangaroo Island. 

Renowned architect Max Pritchard is behind the 2019 build. He’s well-acquainted with the coastline, after designing KI’s iconic Southern Ocean Lodge and version 2.0 after the original was burnt in the 2020 bushfires.  

The owners of Naiko have carefully tailored a stay that feels like home. A generously stocked pantry and fridge with local yoghurt, milk, free-range eggs, bacon, fresh bread and wine. Kindling is ready to go in the open fire, with an abundance of extra chopped wood for brisk evenings. 

The newest offering at Naiko is a personalised buggy ride around the sprawling grounds. Property managers Christine and Neil are a wealth of knowledge and lead guests on an immersive and extraordinary journey through valleys and coves, taking in the paths of the Heysen Trail, historic landmarks and plenty of roos and sheep. 

The buggy ride is tailored to each guest and can stretch as long as four hours, including a home-packed Morning Tea. Best of all, you’ll never see another person.  

This is a place for those who truly want to switch off and quieten their busy minds. 

THE LOUISE 

It’s hard to find a better home-base to explore the Barossa Valley than The Louise Hotel, but once you check-in, you’ll find it hard to leave.  

The luxury boutique digs offer breathtaking views, an infinity pool and world-class dining. You could venture out to the myriad wineries on your doorstep, but you really needn’t. 

The hotel’s award-winning restaurant Appellation has just added a new walk-in wine cellar – and it’s extensive. The hero is the region’s famous hearty Shiraz. 

For that reason, a winter trip to The Louise is ideal. It’s cosy, comforting and lavish. 

Fifteen private villa-style suites open up on to sun-dappled courtyards and look out to vineyards. 

The food is local and seasonal and the menu constantly changing. Slow-cooked lamb shoulder, house-cured ocean trout, Barossa chicken with truffled leek and the famous beetroot tartare – you’ll return home, heart and belly full.  

SEQUIOA LODGE 

A mere 22 minutes from Adelaide’s CBD, it’s hard to imagine you could feel out-of-town at Sequoia Lodge, but it has the views to prove it. 

Sequoia is widely considered SA’s most exclusive and luxurious new accommodation offering. An adults-only lodge, nestled in a private, leafy 30-acre estate in Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills. 

It’s fast become a go-to location for those wanting to splurge, pop the big question or indulge in one of SA’s most iconic degustations. Sequoia is home to the award-winning fine dining restaurant Hardy’s Verandah. 

The recently build open-plan suites boast spectacular views over the Adelaide Hills, a region that’s being considered for UNESCO World Heritage status.  

South Australian icons including Jurlique and Penfolds Magill Estate are nearby to explore, along with special access to more than 200 cellar doors. 

Experience the pristine natural surrounds and incredible wildlife by foot, 4WD or helicopter and return to the lodge for an artesian spring-fed hot pools. A homemade cookie and turn-down service will await on your return. 

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