ARTICLE | Celebrating our Top 4 Australian luxury eco-heroes
From sunshine, sandy shores and incredible marine life it was time for me to put my jumper, socks and boots back on and head south to experience slightly more traditional winter elements. Before anyone starts to accuse me of working for the Kangaroo Island Tourist board (or taking a back-hander), I don’t, I promise. There are the three main iconic sites of Australia, affectionally known as “Sydney, Rock and Reef”, however here at The Tailor; we like to think that we know a few lesser known charms to compliment these ‘Big Three’. Kangaroo Island or KI as it’s locally known is most certainly one of them. As I’ve been fortunate enough to visit several times, over different seasons I feel confident to say that it never, ever fails to enchant me.
KI is a 35 minute flight from Adelaide and this gives you just enough time to drink a glass of water and munch a single ‘Mentos’ mint, such is the sophistication of the inflight catering, and you’re down before you realised you were up. I was to be a guest at Southern Ocean Lodge and was looking forward to seeing what all the commotion was about. With accolades coming out of its ears and a location that seems to me, to defy logic as it was a bold architect and even bolder builder who created this lodge that hovers on the edge of a cliff with the Southern Ocean frothing at the mouth below. An hour’s drive from the airport and I’m making my way up a wooden boardwalk and pushing open huge double doors. Once inside I’m feeling perhaps how Harry Potter felt standing for the first time in the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Southern Ocean Lodge’s ‘Great Room’ is exactly that, great in all respects. An endless curve of glass draws the outside in, it was a cold day but the pendulum fireplace breathed warmth, the furnishings achingly simple but sophisticated, and above all you feel able to flop, relax and just stare out of the window, which is exactly what I did.
Having been winched out of my seat, I was shown to my suite, a ‘Flinders’. These suites are what is often categorised in the travel trade as ‘standard’, yet there is nothing ordinary about them. They manage to be spacious yet cosy; cool in that hip way that hasn’t (thankfully) resorted to theme or gimmick and, like all of the suites, they radiate style and detail. There are recycled spotted gum feature walls as well as commissioned artworks from local KI artists and each of the 21 suites has a private, uninterrupted and quite mesmerising ocean view. The only change in panorama is from the top ‘Osprey Pavilion’ located at the end of the lodge. This curved suite has a sunken lounge facing the ocean and a bathroom with vast granite bath pointing out over the wild bush land.
The lodge operates on an inclusive basis (with the exception of some fabulous special cellar wines) and therefore all meals, touring, wines, spirits, genuinely friendly service and hours spent gawping at the view and exploring it, are included. Following lunch, I joined Kate, one of the guides, for a cliff top walk. It was a blustery day and I found myself nicely buffeted, thankfully mainly inland, as the cliff edge is excitingly close (but not too close Captain Safety) and as I peer over the side the water froths beautifully. An hour or so later, my head is full of Latin plant names, bird species and a brief history of the island, all delivered with the self-depreciating sense of humour that Kate, like so many Australian’s, possesses. The rain arrived just as I returned to the main lodge, but this is where I think the lodge comes in to its own. Sitting in the Great Room, a glass of red wine in hand, I watched as the storm soldiered inland and battered the glass. Disappointingly it passed quickly but the scene was replaced with two wedge-tailed eagles riding the thermals and a perfect rainbow arc, so there were no complaints
Like many top lodges, dining at Southern Ocean Lodge is a very special experience. Everyone is welcomed for canapés and drinks before dining and as guests mingle, the staff share stories whilst mixing a mean gin and tonic (KIS gin no less, Kangaroo Island Spirits, a local boutique distillery) and the atmosphere, without wanting to sound as if I should have been drinking Pimms on the lawn at a garden party, was convivial and jolly. The menu changes daily and the emphasis on showcasing the regions finest offerings, which the chef did with style. Grain fed beef, king crab, and local snapper accompanied by the likes of KI samphire. There was a fabulous cheese plate, crammed with nicely stinking local offerings and a further desert featuring the intense local Ligurian honey.
An ideal way to work off the slight excesses is to explore the island or surrounds. A brisk beach walk from the lodge is one such way, or, as one third of the island is Conservation or National Park you can really get up close and personal with prolific bird and animal species such as New Zealand fur seals, koalas, kangaroos (who would have thought?!), Australian sea lions, ospreys, echidnas and, I could go on…. Coupled with this, is of course that beautiful ocean and wide open unspoiled landscapes, shaped and moulded by the most underrated of sculptures, Mother Nature. I explored areas of the island I’d not seen before, a trek down to Admirals arch to see the most natural of ‘Sea World’s’ and a clamber over rocks named Remarkable. It all certainly was.
The question is, did Southern Ocean Lodge deliver on its promises and does it deserve the lavish praise? Yes in my eyes it did, in bucket loads. I would go as far to say, that despite there still being many places on my bucket list, I would put a long weekend at Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island at the top. No back hander required.
P.S. – Southern Ocean Lodge was recently awarded by Travel + Leisure USA magazine as the third best hotel in the world! If you want to find out what all the fuss is about for yourself, The Tailor has an exclusive offer which can save you up to $5,600 per couple on your stay at the lodge.
ARTICLE | Celebrating our Top 4 Australian luxury eco-heroes
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Book before 31 March 2022 and receive a special rate for 4 nights at Finniss River Lodge and 2 nights at Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront with selected touring.