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A Grounded Life with Catherine Malouf

A Grounded Life with Catherine Malouf

Photo courtesy of David Chatfield


“Dancing with the beat in her head, and her feet on the ground”.

For our very first edition of A Grounded Life, we are humbled and honoured to share some of the life experiences of the talented, beautiful and passionate, Catherine Malouf, of Brisbane’s acclaimed, The Calile Hotel.  

Catherine, mother to three adult children and elegant businesswoman, shares her rituals for remaining present in a busy global world and some sage advice handed down by her entrepreneurial father. Catherine also generously describes a deeply, personally challenging period, which she claims has enabled her to evolve as a human being with greater compassion and empathy. Re-emerging from this time of hardship, Catherine takes great pride and joy in spending time with her children, extended family and friends and in creating beautiful spaces for them to relax and retreat from the busyness of daily life.

Please enjoy this thoughtful and eloquent account of a very Grounded life, lived by Catherine Malouf.


Where do you call home?

My home is in Brisbane and has been for my family for 4 generations spanning 128 years. It is where my children gather, where my parents and the rest of my family live, where my friends are and where I work.

What does ‘home’ mean to you?

My home means comfort and sanctuary, somewhere where the memorabilia with the stories of my life are on show, and where my children have a space to sleep, eat and relax. Home is also the feeling you get when you walk into a space and know that you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. It is my refuge and a safe space. My home is simple, minimalistic and tactile, and also the place where I can wear no heels, no bra and no makeup!

What are the elements that help you transform a house into your home?

Artwork that makes me feel happy, photographs of people I love, lots of plants, texture for look as well as touch, tonal mid-level lighting that can create shadows and a good damn rug (mine fills my entire living room)!  I also need music from quality speakers, a seat for every family member, and a view of water with a breezy aspect. The home is not complete without a cook’s kitchen with all the gadgets and wardrobe space, with room for my shoes! 

What creative projects find you most excited and energised?

The operational needs of a successful hotel are a constant source of excitement and challenge. With 300 moving parts ranging from staff personalities to guests’ specific needs, the madness is in the detail, as well as ensuring the wellbeing of everyone involved. Finding new ways to refine and evolve the brand, and constantly innovate ways to make things look and function better.  To help create an environment where people want to be because it makes them feel welcome, cared for, elevated and comfortable. I also love helping my daughter with her fashion projects, as secretly I would love to design.

Which life and/or work projects are you most proud of?

My children are by far my greatest achievement.  Being able to maintain a balance, to give to your children without spoiling them and imparting worthy, important qualities to them.

Could you share with us some personal insights into a challenging time in your life?

The breakdown of a very successful and happy 20-year marriage was definitely the most challenging time of my life.  A betrayal by the person you trust most dear, leaves you broken and unworthy.   As a woman raised in a traditional patriarchal family believing that marriage is forever and fidelity is sacred, your whole belief system is challenged, and you have to reinvent who you are and what your future looks like without your most important mate and the father of your children.  It was as painful as losing a limb and far more devastating as it involved the loss of innocence for our three young kids.

What did you learn about yourself throughout this challenge?

I learnt how healing forgiveness is, that I am strong and capable of coping with terrible loss.   I now believe that I am a better person for it and that the most evolved beings on this earth are the ones that have matured, learning through pain as part of their journey on earth.  

What is the best life advice you have been given?

I feel most stressed when life throws too many challenges all at once - part of my everyday life.   Looking at my to do list most days is daunting.  My father, Calile, has always said ‘You can only do one thing at any one time’. He is a man that has achieved greatness, so it is his words in my head that help me cope and achieve balance every day. 

Favourite travel destination for Grounding yourself:    

Anywhere with water, whether I am swimming in it or looking at it, there is nothing better.

One city must-do travel tip:

I have two must-do travel tips. Firstly, always look up or you will miss half the experience. Secondly, make friends with a local.  Seeing life in a foreign place, through the eyes of people who call it ‘home’, will give insight to an experience that you never thought possible.

What type of activities or rituals do you instill to help you remain Grounded?

The simple things keep me feeling grounded.   Family gatherings with good food, and people who are dear to me smiling. I love conversations with my adult children – on every subject. Taking care of my ageing parents also keeps me grounded.  It is such a lesson in patience, humility, empathy and love.  And, I love to dance. This is when I am most happy, in the moment with the beat in my head and my feet moving over the ground.


Catherine Malouf family