South Australia’s tourism sector will soon have a new premium accommodation offering, in the form of two luxury standalone suites nestled on a spectacular property in the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Launching today for bookings in late April 2022, ‘ESCA Inman Valley’ is the first instalment of the distinctive new ESCA accommodation brand, led by a team of Adelaide trailblazers in the tourism, architecture and construction industries.
At the helm is Chief Executive Officer Steve Kernaghan, who brings a wealth of travel experience to the table having previously held senior marketing and strategy roles with Tourism Australia, Qantas, the South Australian Tourism Commission, Journey Beyond and Great Southern Rail.
The Escapod concept stemmed from an aspiration to activate underutilised land for tourism and was originally based on selling high-end modular buildings to landowners for tourism use. The new model sees ESCA remain the owner operator of the suites, with landowners leasing a section of their property to host an ESCA suite.
Rather than developing large-scale accommodation, ESCA will deliver completely private, individual suites which can be placed into secluded regional locations, allowing guests to experience a high-end hotel quality stay surrounded by nature without venturing far from the city.
According to Kernaghan, what sets ESCA apart from its competitors is meticulous site selection and a dedication to high-end architectural design that embodies Australian luxury. “These aren’t pods in paddocks - you can’t just press these off an assembly line,” says Kernaghan. “This is high-quality design and architecture in a place you’d never expect to find it. We’ve gone beyond the pod.”
When it comes to environmental credentials, the suites stack up. “Our buildings are highly insulated, with incredible thermal performance,” says Brown. “Where possible, we use off grid power, water and sewer. Using a controlled offsite building environment also minimises environmental impact and building material wastage.”
The controlled environment also contributes greatly to the quality of the build because the construction process is sheltered from the harsh Australian weather.
Regarding the suites’ design, Vrynios affirms that quality is paramount. “Off grid and environmentally friendly doesn't need to compromise the experience,” he says. “A common misconception is that modular buildings are lower quality. This simply isn’t the case with our offering. Our buildings are designed and delivered to a higher specification than traditional construction. You can touch and feel the difference,” he says.
Horstmann says the design-led approach is about the space “feeling right”. “People may not necessarily understand why the space feels so delightful, but it’s actually a carefully curated series of ‘wow’ moments. From the second they walk in, every interaction with the building is considered,” she says. “We don't want to create design that is similar to what you might see in a residential setting because we're trying to completely break people away, so they can truly escape,” she says.
Another string to ESCA’s bow is the collective inhouse expertise. “Rarely do you find the building and the tourism company under the same ownership - they usually contract each other,” Kernaghan says. “With ESCA, from concept through to delivery, it’s under one roof.”
As for location, the team chose South Australia as its pilot destination not only for its home court advantage, but its diversity of experiences. “South Australia is a microcosm of Australia,” says Kernaghan. “It has coast, forest, wineries – all within one hour of the city. We want to encapsulate each locations’ diverse sense of place.”
The ambitious start-up has already identified several additional sites for development in 2022 and is seeking further co-investors and site partners to enable it to scale. “We’re South Australian grown, but we've got a number of other locations in the pipeline. This is a national concept,” says Kernaghan. “ESCA is a collection of wonderful buildings placed in wonderful locations… and regional Australia has such a diversity of places we want to highlight.”
ESCA is now taking bookings for the two suites at Inman Valley, which are designed for couples and are set to open April 2022.
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