The Southern Ocean Lodge prides itself on two things: luxury and localism. A remarkable setting, excellent design and top-notch gastronomy combine with a serious emphasis on locally sourced produce and the surrounding natural splendour to make this stay an incredible experience.
From a distance, the Lodge appears fairly innocuous. A line of private suites slides down the hill from a larger hub. The Lodge is embedded within, and blends into, the surrounding bush thanks to the design of South Australian architect Max Pritchard.
Every room has its own unobstructed view of the bay and complete privacy. With 21 suites under that cascading roof, the Lodge has a maximum capacity of around 46 people, and a staff of 40 to 50 employees.
This ratio of staff to guests results in high-level service, where guests are well looked after. The luxurious suites are cleaned twice daily and attendants in the Lodge are on-hand for any request.
Upon entering the Lodge, one is struck by the beauty of the Great Room, a common area replete with a suspended fireplace, enticing seating, superbly stocked open bar and stunning panorama. Visitors are encouraged to relax in the Great Room, helping themselves to the open bar, or to simply ask the waiting staff to whip up any cocktail they might fancy. The Great Room extends out to a balcony with its own lounges and an infinity pool overlooking the bush and bay. A short walk leads to the Southern Spa, where guests can relax and enjoy a variety of treatments.
It is at meal-time that the Lodge truly shines. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are glorious affairs, where guests relish the brilliant work of head chef Jack Ingram over a series of moreish courses.
Almost everything served is of South Australian origin, with Kangaroo Island’s plentiful produce often taking centre stage in the dishes, like marron, honey, pork and free-range eggs. Food is often paired with an appropriate local wine, and is as delicious as it is delicately presented.
Another fantastic aspect of the Southern Ocean Lodge is the inclusion of an open wine cellar, stocked to the brim with South Australian wines as well as a few Champagnes. Guests can uncork any one of around 40 local whites and 80 local reds, then savour them anywhere on the premises.
There is no sign of the kind of glaring opulence that one might expect from such a luxury resort. Its masterful design, sweeping panoramic views and tasteful decoration ensure that everything just fits. All of the art in the Lodge is by local artists, and imbues it with a unique Island character. Tidy bush paths encourage guests out in to the wild to explore the beach, forest and cliffs, or to make use of private seating areas to witness the sunset with a drink.
Kangaroo Islanders attest that the opening of the Lodge was a somewhat controversial affair. Locals were concerned with what its construction might do to the surrounding habitat, and a large open day took place to allay any fears the public might have.
Indeed, it appears that the Southern Ocean Lodge is sensitive to environmental concerns. Tours and hikes are run daily, with highly knowledgeable guides taking care to explain the importance and splendour of the surrounding biodiversity, while an impressive system of solar panels generates enough power for the whole establishment, and all water is supplied through rainwater tanks and bores. Likewise, all chemical products used by the lodge are biodegradable and organic waste is taken care of by natural worm-composting.
The Southern Ocean Lodge is a remarkable place to visit. While many luxury accommodations might seek to remove their guests from the surrounding wild, the Lodge is built to embrace it and inspires visitors to appreciate the very best of what Kangaroo Island and South Australia have to offer in superb comfort.
The author was a guest of the Southern Ocean Lodge