Aaron and Nick’s ‘Kittawa way’
How a young family traded Sydney corporate life for an island in Bass Strait.
Nick and Aaron traded the busy streets of Sydney for a wild stretch of King Island coastline to develop luxurious Kittawa Lodge – a sea change surrounded by sea.
Lawyer Aaron Suine and husband Nick Stead, an organisational psychologist, lived a fast-paced corporate life in Sydney. Days spent raising young son Abraham and juggling demanding careers were hectic. That is, until they packed up city life and moved to King Island.
King Island is home to about 1500 locals, sitting in the middle of Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. It’s famed for its beef and crays, its cheese and world class golf courses. What’s more, some of the cleanest air on the planet rolls in on Roaring Forties winds. For Aaron and Nick, it had all the attributes for their Kittawa Lodge vision and lifestyle shift.
“We knew we wanted to raise our son in wide open space,” explains Aaron. “We were tired of the rat race. What this island has given us is the ability to carve out moments for ourselves and not be fixed to deadlines and the stress of corporate delivery. We see Abraham flourishing and climbing trees – something he never got to do in Sydney.”
Building luxury lodging on a remote island had its challenges. It required forward planning and an intimate understanding of the end product. It is the seclusion, meticulous design philosophy and attentive detail that has seen Kittawa Lodge’s popularity boom since opening in October, 2019. Just the day before interview, some 30 booked nights were secured by Australians eager to experience the ‘Kittawa way.’
“We’ve just been blown away by the response. It’s resonated with our core demographic but there’s been broader appeal, which is genuinely humbling,” says Aaron. “We were comfortable doing a soft opening but reservations flowed well beyond the rate we anticipated. The big ‘pinch me’ moments are watching the authentic reaction when guests walk into the lodge. It’s that real connection with what we sat down and mud-mapped out nearly three years before.”
Architecturally-designed Kittawa Lodge sits on 96 acres dotted with red-necked wallabies. The off-grid lodging blends thoughtfully with its surrounds, floor-to-ceiling windows inviting the outside in. Guests can opt to have four-courses provided in-house by Aaron, who calls on his Italian heritage to celebrate the local produce with skill and charisma. Moving with the seasons, guests can opt for King Island beef or perhaps the latest fisherman’s catch. Premium touches include Arras Grand Vintage sparkling and the option to weave a relaxed itinerary into conversation, from a seaside picnic to exploring a calcified forest.
“For us, moving to Tasmania was about getting a stronger sense of community and a slower pace of life. Tasmania offered a really beautiful brand that aligned with what we were hoping to develop with Kittawa too – the clean air, untouched environs and the ability to still get your patch of paradise with that feeling of remoteness. Tasmania works to a different rhythm and we love that. We still wanted to live life with all the mod cons but also with that sense of escapism and we’ve found that on our little island,” adds Aaron.
The family have felt welcomed by the King Island locals, too. “It’s a great community made up of producers, artists, those who have escaped the mainland to run Airbnb’s or others who live completely off grid. It’s a melting pot of lifestyles. For us, it’s been a warm embrace. Locals actively support us in their own way; like the lady down the main street who hands us fresh sage twice a week or the owner of Food Works who pulls out all stops for last minute guest requests,” smiles Aaron.
The hard-working couple continue to accept remote work in their chosen professions as well as personally host every guest. “We are a small business family that are in this for the long haul so we understand these early days will demand more of our time. We balance this by ensuring we have dinner together as a family every night and quality time. After all, it’s the rhythm of King Island life that we came for and we couldn’t be happier here.”
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Find out more about Kittawa Lodge.
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