From Family Farm to Global Tourism Experience
15 December 2015 | Minutes to read: 3

From Family Farm to Global Tourism Experience

By William Buck

When luxury South Australian tourism facility Kangaroo Beach Lodges launched its newest offering recently – a state-of-the-art onsite catering service showcasing local produce – it signaled another major step forward for the experience-focused business.

While guests at the launch sipped on Champagne, sampled fine locally sourced produce and enjoyed the breathtaking views on offer, the high-end appeal of the Lodges for the international travel market was obvious.

Less noticeable was the many years of careful financial management and family and business planning that had enabled the Kangaroo Beach Lodges vision to be realised.

The secluded and exclusive Kangaroo Island tourism facility, which consists of three luxury lodges perched on rolling hills and overlooking a private beach, is a joint venture of three siblings of the Wilkinson family who inherited the farmland on which the lodges sit from their father Lloyd Wilkinson.

What started as a project to build dream holiday homes for each of them, has now transformed into a global tourism venture that involves multiple-generations of the Wilkinson clan.

“The lodges sit directly above a private cove called Kangaroo Beach which has always been recognised as a jewel of a spot, but had always been inaccessible for the public because it was located on private property,” said Leah Ellis, General Manager of Kangaroo Beach Lodges and third-generation Wilkinson.

“It wasn’t an easy process. Getting the planning and development approvals to build on the farmland took about five years.”

Kangaroo Beach Lodges opened to travellers in 2010, and while it initially started as a self-catering experience, the recent addition of an onsite catering service has broadened the appeal of the facility to international travellers.

While the process of setting up Kangaroo Beach Lodges hasn’t been an easy one, the Wilkinson Family has taken comfort in knowing its trusted advisors of more than 50 years, William Buck, has been there to provide a guiding hand for the business when needed.

Leah’s father, John Wilkinson, said William Buck provided valuable advice at vital stages during the set-up of Kangaroo Beach Lodges.

“Setting up a business involving multiple families can be fairly complicated so you really need someone who understands the tax and legal implications to steer you in the right direction,” he said.

“It’s something William Buck have been providing to our families over three generations now and they are always approachable and ready to discuss any issues we have.”

William Buck’s relationship with the prominent South Australian family dates back to the early-1960s and started with the patriarch of the family, Lloyd Wilkinson. Over 50-plus years, William Buck has been involved in many different aspects of the family’s affairs, including wealth and financial management, tax advice, business advisory and more recently, succession planning.

Senior Wealth Advisor at William Buck, Wendy Drake, said since Lloyd’s death in 2008, the firm has become more involved in the family’s intergenerational transfer of assets to his children; John, Hayden and Anna.

“In dealing with multiple generations, our focus is on not only setting up the immediate generations, but protecting and growing that wealth for the generations beyond them. Part of this is about teach the younger generations how to take this on.

“Having the grandchildren involved in running Kangaroo Beach Lodges will provide them with valuable business experience and pass on the skills to help them manage the inheritance that will eventually come to them.”

It’s a transition that both the Wilkinson family and William Buck are already working through, with family agreements in tow to ensure there continues to be a seamless transfer between generations.

“In processes like this it is very complex because there are jointly held assets at each layer of a family so you need an agreement to provide clarity and guidance for all members of the family. Instead of having a constitution for a company, we create a constitution for a family,” she said.

“At the same time, you have legal and tax frameworks that you have to work within, as well as the different personality and political differences of families and individuals. You need to understand all of these challenges and work out how to overcome them.

“William Buck’s role is to bring everyone to the table and get them to work together to create a set of rules. Once you’ve done this, personal and political differences tend to fall by the wayside because everyone understands the rules of the game.”

As for Kangaroo Beach Lodges, Wendy has no doubt that international visitors will flock to the attraction.

For further details on Kangaroo Beach Lodges click here 

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