We countdown the ultimate Australian destinations where you can really unwind and indulge – #6 Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island, SA
Southern Ocean Lodge
Kangaroo Island, SA
TOP CAPACITY: Just 21 suites means a maximum of 42 guests at any time.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Southern Ocean Lodge snugly sits on the cliff tops at Kangaroo Island’s Hanson Bay, fronting the fierce Southern Ocean. When you enter, the first area you come to is the main public space, aptly called the Great Room, which shows off the super-slick, sophisticated design and décor embedded in the lodge’s DNA. An entire glass wall about 30 metres in length snakes along the cliff, keeping guests protected from the winter winds and summer heat while making a feature of the awesome ocean view. An organically shaped fireplace hangs from the roof. The white stone-tiled Great Room is huge and light-filled yet undergoes a remarkable transformation at night, becoming an intimate, cosy lounge room. Incredible for such a huge space. A self-serve bar is perfectly positioned close to the fire place with many lounges in which to relax while you watch the ocean huff and puff. A walk-in cellar showcases some of the best Australian wines, many included in the tariff. Beautiful commissioned artworks from local artists adds a lovely ambience to the Great Room. Five circular works by Janine Mackintosh, which are hung in the restaurant, are truly magnificent. Sunshine, a giant kangaroo made from found machinery parts on the island, gives a surprising greeting.
Guest suites follow the line of the clifftop from the Great Room, so each room looks out to the Southern Ocean. They are beautifully appointed and continue the aesthetic of the Great Room with a palette of light blues and soft browns. Just over a ridge, in a clifftop position away from the main lodge, you’ll find a secluded spa with three treatment rooms.
Most affordable room: Flinders Suites cost from $990 per person per night for a twin-share (minimum two nights). They are spacious, smartly designed suites with king-sized beds and lounge areas with floor-to-ceiling windows opening onto a small courtyard. The panoramic windows continue into the bathing area, so you don’t miss out on the ocean view even while you’re in the bath. An all-inclusive minibar is so good that it rivals Saffire’s. It’s well-stocked with premium drinks and nibbles. Croser NV, anyone?
Best room in the house: The Osprey Pavilion costs $1800 per person per night for a twin share (two-night minimum). The pavilion is located at the very end of a long corridor and comes with its own private spa on an open terrace. The sexily curved living space faces the ocean and a super-cool fireplace rises from the middle of the coffee table. Very 007.
Included in the tariff:
– The Wonders of KI half-day tour: takes in the highlights of this amazing island. You’ll spot heaps of koalas, see the seals at Admiral’s Arch and visit Cape de Coudic Lighhouse, the Remarkables and loads in between.
– Kangas and Kanapes: watch hundreds of kangaroos feed at dusk over a glass of wine.
– Seal Bay: You can also take an exclusive tour to watch the barking, snorting frivolity of the seals as you learn about their lives. Stop off at Vivonne Bay, once reputed to be Australia’s greatest beach.
Extra charges apply for more exclusive activities. A guided walk to Cape Young Husband Walk costs $60 per person and reveals the interesting ecology of the area. Quad biking can be experienced for $200 per person, and is a pretty serious ride where you hit decent speeds though the fire trails of the conservation area – so much fun! The Lodge also offers half-day special-interest tours with themes such as Art Lovers, Epicurean Adventure and Family Adventure.
The activities. You’ll see the Australian bush in all its incredible colour and vitality. If you think you know the bush, then think again. The lodge makes the most of local flora and fauna, and KI ‘s stunning wilderness. A huge array of inclusive activities (from the easy to the moderately challenging) makes the stay unforgettable. And reasonably priced additional activities mean there is so much to get out of a stay at SOL.
The Lodge itself. The architecture and interiors are astonishingly well executed both inside and out. The Great Room is immediately relaxing and so removed from the day-to-day that it puts you immediately in a holiday frame of mind. Bespoke soft furnishings and art create a unique and magnificent environment.
The corridor to the rooms. It’s too long. No seriously – it’s 240 metres long and on an incline. For the unfit it is a hassle. It takes a good three minutes to traverse the entire length so if you book into the best room, you may be disappointed to find it’s in the worst location – your morning workout will be just getting to breakfast. It’s also not the most sound-proofed of common walls. Unpleasant interruptions to a well-earned sleep in include early-morning Energizer bunnies bounding up the corridor and early checkouts with grating suitcase wheels.
Food portions were a little on the tiny side. No we are not seeking the gross serving sizes of an all-you-can-eat buffet but they were noticeably underwhelming. Most males diners (not just me, honest) were asking for double serves or two mains on their second night. After all the energy you burn in the wilderness, replacing kilojoules was a priority.
Beach: A swimming beach closer than a five minute drive or a real pool (there is a plunge pool on the terrace at the Great Room) would round out the offer.
Executive chef Tim Bourke comes from sister property Capella Lodge and has taken a very local approach to produce – and as KI is the place the gods would grow food given half the chance, it is damn smart move. KI honey, cheeses and lavender are a feature, as are foraged foods, such as local samphire. Lunch is three courses with a choice of main. Dinner is typically four courses, with a choice of two dishes per course. A current highlight (the menu changes daily with what’s available) is the wild herb risotto. Accompanying wines (mostly from SA) are premium labels.
Southern Ocean Lodge
Reservations and enquiries: (02) 9918 4381;
Words by Quentin Long