The new accommodations in Byron keep rolling in. In the same month, the NSW coastal town welcomed its first five-star hotel, in the form of Hotel Marvell, it also gave tourists a new place to stay in the form of Sun Ranch, a boutique hotel styled like a Californian ranch from the ‘70s, with Spanish influences.
Set on 22 hectares on the Byron hinterland, including 350m of creek frontage, Sun Ranch sits a cruisy 15-minute drive from Byron and two minutes’ drive from the village of Bangalow.
The ranch was created by a team of 13 friends from creative and hospitality industries, including Jamie Blakey, former Creative Director and founder of One Teaspoon.
Sun Ranch comprises of five rooms in a guest house called The Rambler Longhouse, as well as six two-bedroom barns, Sun Ranch Barns. The group drew inspiration from its combined global travel experiences, aiming to create what they call a “hotel of good times”.
“We’ve created a place that we hope really inspires our guests,” says Blakey. “From the moment you come through the gates, you’ll know you’ve arrived somewhere different.”
Across The Rambler Longhouse and Sun Ranch Barns, the Ranch can sleep 34 people. In addition to accommodation, it also features The Pool Club, a 25-metre hillside pool with enough surrounding space for dining and lounging, Stoney Ridge, an area at the top of the property with a fire pit where you can meditate or celebrate and The Badminton Club, a huge grassy court for casual players — and avid afternoon gin drinkers.
After a swim, you may want to hit the Go Easy Dam and wood-fired floating sauna, a two-megalitre dam with a jetty, sauna and spa that holds up to ten guests. Sun Ranch is also home to Zephyr Horses, and on-site horseback riding is available.
For breakfast, lunch or dinner, guests can head to The Field House, an outdoor dining space with an al fresco kitchen fire pit, serving Argentinian BBQ and seating up to 60 guests. The culinary concept here is farm-to-table with Resident Chef Philippa Sumback using produce from neighbouring farms.
After dinner, head to The Lair, a sunken lounge within the guest house that seats 30 guests around a sculptural fireplace or The Whiskey Lounge, another lounge area, this one playing jazz records and flowing into an al fresco undercover dining space.
Blakey, along with fellow co-owner Julia Ashwood, worked with progressive design and construction company Balanced Earth on the property’s build. Ashwood describes the spaces created as pushing boundaries.
“Luxury finishes go hand in hand with unexpected interiors, carefully sourced from vintage merchants and markets internationally,” says Ashwood.
“We’ve not been afraid to experience with colour and space, which at the end of the day, makes a striking impression. The Californian ranch houses of the ‘70s with their Spanish influence was where we started. Where we ended up was here, ‘the hotel of good times’.”
The décor includes carefully curated artwork, huge ceramic vessels by local markers and thoughtfully placed vintage furniture. Sustainability was also considered in the design, with the six barns completely off-grid and self-sufficient in electricity and water, while the guest house uses a hybrid of solar, battery and minimal grid power. The estate runs entirely on rainwater.