Southern Escape

A trip to this one-of-a-kind retreat is like entering another world

By: By Michael Lowe

The Details

Southern Ocean Lodge
Commission: 10 percent
Rates begin at $730 per person, per night, and include all meals, accommodations, all beverages excluding certain wines, island airport transfers and guided daytrips with Exceptional Kangaroo Island.

Island Tours
For more than 20 years, Exceptional Kangaroo Island (EKI) has offered four-wheel-drive tours with a maximum of 10 people and a guest-to-guide ratio of 6-to-1, ensuring personalized attention.

Itineraries include themes such as a food safari where visitors tour vineyards usually closed to the public and meet with beekeepers handling Kangaroo Island’s unique species of honeybee. EKI’s Flinders Chase Focus tour brings guests into Flinders Chase National Park to observe kangaroos, koalas and echidnas while also coming face to face with a seal colony numbering nearly 50,000.

Commission: 10 percent

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Several hours after landing in Kingscote Airport on Kangaroo Island, Australia, I suddenly realized I hadn’t turned on my mobile phone. Normally, I whip it out and switch it on as soon as the wheels hit the tarmac, but I was distracted by Southern Ocean Lodge’s massive, panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows, exhibiting one of nature’s most spectacular displays.


Guestrooms at the Southern Ocean Lodge are spread out along the edge of a cliff. // © 2009 Southern Ocean Lodge

Puffs of white clouds hovered in a deep-blue sky as precipitous stone cliffs plummeted into the tumultuous white-capped Southern Ocean below. Rugged coastline stretched for miles on either side, showcasing Kangaroo Island’s dramatic southwestern limits. It was as if land and sea were in an epic battle for attention. Suffice it to say, I kept my phone off, and kept my eyes on the view.

Sixty miles of thick green brush, deep red dirt and open blue skies separate the lodge from the closest major town of Kingscote, with a population of just 1,200, making it quite easy to forget the rest of the world exists.

The property sits on 252 acres of land, 250 of which is protected against future development under a Heritage Agreement. The remaining two acres are occupied by the lodge itself and its 21 rooms, ensuring that clients will find pristine, untouched nature on all sides.

Its unique location between two national parks — Flinders Chase National Park and Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area — and the Southern Ocean allows for infinite daytrip possibilities, if your clients ever decide to leave.

In the main lounge, known as the Great Room, an expansive sunken den wraps around curvaceous furniture — prime real estate for settling down with a book in front of the fireplace. An overnight stay includes complimentary access to a full bar that is perpetually stocked with ice-cold local brews and a Kangaroo Island specialty, the Island Sting, a honey liqueur made from the world’s last remaining pure stock of Ligurian bees. For the oenophile, the lodge’s wine cellar boasts an extensive display of South Australian wines.

With nearly unlimited access to its facilities, the lodge quickly became an instant home away from home. Impeccable attention to detail made it feel less like a hotel and more like my own summer home, only with a five-star staff.

The team was both cheery and helpful, always waiting in the wings to answer questions, mix a cocktail or take orders from the lodge’s seasonal menu. Its remote location means menus are crafted judiciously by head chef Matthew Upson, utilizing fresh local and sustainable ingredients, including free-range lamb and hand-selected marron (Australian freshwater crayfish).

Rooms, beginning at 700 square feet and escalating to nearly 1,300 square feet, are spread along the cliff’s edge, each with its own ocean view. Specifically placed along a sweeping line, guestrooms are hidden from each other giving guests the impression that they are the sole inhabitants of an unpopulated island. However, heated limestone flooring, wireless Bose sound systems and freshly made sponge cake quickly remind them otherwise.

The beauty of the lodge is its seamless marriage between elegant luxury and immaculate scenery. It is nature in its rawest form. A sense of production is not what gives it character, but its uncanny ability to make guests feel luxuriously pampered and naturally rugged.

Walking through the lodge’s rusted timber doors and into the fresh air, I stole one final glance through the panoramic vista of breaking waves and a clear cerulean sky resting on darkened rock.

Grudgingly, I took out my phone. Time to return to the real world.