Blame genetics: Hayley Baillie, daughter of noted Australian entrepreneur, environmentalist and explorer Dick Smith (he completed the first solo helicopter flight around the world and was the second person to fly over Everest), was destined to travel to places of which many only dream. Family vacations growing up include treks in Nepal, and while some of us take our kids to Florida, hers are going to Sri Lanka.
Hayley’s global savvy extends to the three award-winning hotels she owns with her husband, James. Southern Ocean Lodge, Capella Lodge and Longitude 131⁰ are Australia’s top spots for high-end adventure, beautiful scenery and drop-dead design. Hayley and James live in Sydney with their four sons, ages six to eleven.
Q: Where and when did you take your first trip as a family?
As a child, my first family holiday memory was traveling to Sri Lanka, and I remember how eye opening the experience was. I have been waiting for my children (and their palettes!) to grow so that I can expose them to the same cultural realization that I had at a young age. Our boys are now 6, 7, 9 and 11 (and able to tolerate curries), and are we taking a family journey through Sri Lanka in July this year.
Q: What is your favorite travel memory from childhood, and what do you hope your kids remember about their travels?
When I was around 8, I experienced my first trek in Nepal and fortunately visited again a few years later. These trips were especially important to me as they were my first memory of seeing that people in other parts of the world live very differently to how I did in Australia. The scenery, the food, the language and the simplicity of life were all confronting in their difference, but equally enlightening. It was also a special family time to be together camping with no other interruptions.
Q: Have any of your family trips been a complete fail?
We went on a seven night boat trip in northern Fiji a few years ago that was unfortunately not as the brochure promised. Apart from the boat being poorly maintained, we had very strong winds making conditions challenging. But despite the shortcomings, the places we visited and the people we met made for a wonderful insight into the beauty of the country and its people. Of course, the kids thought it was all fantastic, leaky boat and all!
Q: Name a place where you’ll always return and why.
Lord Howe Island off the east coast of Australia will always be a destination of choice, because of its pristine natural beauty, incredible diving, fishing and snorkeling, great hikes and small but welcoming community. As there are few cars on the island, the kids can ride around on their bikes freely and safely. It’s the quintessential family beach holiday destination.
Q: What’s your dream destination for travel a deux, and what’s on your bucket list for a trip with the family?
Q: Where would you send first-time visitors for a family day and kid-free night in your hometown?
Catch a ferry across Sydney Harbor and visit Manly Beach, try surfing or go for a swim. Also, a visit to Taronga Zoo is a great opportunity to see the Australian native wildlife up close and personal. For a date night, do dinner at Quay Restaurant overlooking the Opera House (make sure you order the signature snow egg dessert!).
Q: What’s your traveling uniform? Do your kids have one as well?
Mela Pudie, an Australian label, are clothes that travel with you: versatile leggings and layered tops that are ideal for wearing on planes as not only are they comfortable but very contemporary too. I always put my boys in long sleeve shirts like the travel ones from North Face or Columbia and similar style shorts.
Q: Fill in the blank: Flying with kids is...
Never board a plane without...
fully charged electronic gaming devices.
Q: If parents could design a hotel, all rooms would have...
Black out curtains and adjoining rooms.