Setting the Scene: Southern Ocean Lodge 2.0 Emerges from Ashes

The approach to Southern Ocean Lodge is a poignant journey through the aftermath of the devastating ‘black summer’ bushfires of January 2020 on Kangaroo Island. The scorched eucalyptus trees bear witness to the catastrophic event that reduced much of the island, including the luxurious lodge, to ashes. However, amid the skeletal remains, a vibrant carpet of lush bush emerges, symbolizing the island’s resilience and the triumphant return of Southern Ocean Lodge (SOL 2.0). A faithful recreation of the original, the lodge, resembling a low-flying saucer, hovers above the wild southwest coast, offering uninterrupted views of the Southern Ocean.

Inside, neutral cream-colored limestone tiles and stone feature walls seamlessly blend with the surrounding landscape. The reception hosts ‘Sunshine,’ a wrought iron Kangaroo sculpture, the sole survivor of the fire, overlooking the room. The suspended fireplace in the sunken living room becomes a focal point as guests, many familiar faces from the original lodge, don R.M. Williams boots and mingle around the help-yourself bar.

The Backstory: A Resilient Revival

Established in 2008 by James and Hayley Baillie, Southern Ocean Lodge is a jewel in the Baillie portfolio, known for luxury lodges in pristine natural landscapes. Acquired by US private equity group KSL Capital Partners in 2019, the entire portfolio, including Southern Ocean Lodge, faced a formidable challenge when the lodge burned down nine months later. With founders retained as creative directors, SOL 2.0 began its resurrection in February 2022, rapidly rebuilt by original architect Max Pritchard with a $55 million investment.

The Rooms: Suite Sanctuary

The lodge boasts 25 suites, each named after shipwrecks on the island. Glass-fronted suites, extending like a train down the bluff, feature mid-century modern curves, sunken living rooms, and fireplaces. Muted limestone tiles and Tasmanian timber create a fresh and simple ambiance, focusing on wraparound glass walls opening to private decks. The larger suites offer heated plunge pools. The Ocean Pavilion suite, a new addition, features four bedrooms, two infinity pools, and panoramic views. Rates start at $2,236 per night.

Culinary Excellence: A Local Gastronomic Affair

With a strong focus on local produce, 40 percent of the menu is harvested from the island, and 90 percent of seafood is sourced from nearby waters. The lodge’s all-inclusive offering presents a culinary journey in the central dining room. From a traditional a la carte breakfast to three- and four-course lunches and dinners, the menus showcase international flavors using local and seasonal ingredients. The walk-in wine cellar boasts a generous selection of top-notch South Australian wines.

The Spa: Tranquility Redefined

The Southern Spa, relocated and upgraded, provides north-facing views across the scrubland and burgeoning greenery. The spa experience extends outdoors with a timber-clad sauna, dual hot and cold plunge pools, and sun loungers. Treatments, using lavender, eucalyptus, and Ligurian honey from the island, include facials, massages, and full-body scrubs.

The Neighborhood: Nature’s Haven

Kangaroo Island, Australia’s third-largest island, is a haven of protected nature reserves and conservation parks. Known as the Australian Galapagos, it offers safari-like experiences with naturalist guides. The lodge’s proximity to Seal Bay, Flinders Chase National Park, Remarkable Rocks, and Admirals Arch provides access to unique wildlife and geological wonders.

Service: Personalized Hospitality

Baillie Lodges prides itself on first-name hospitality, creating a cheerful yet attentive service. From guides to waitstaff and the general manager, a jolly attitude is complemented by meticulous attention to detail, ensuring a luxurious lodge experience.

Eco Efforts: A Commitment to Sustainability

Sustainability is ingrained in Southern Ocean Lodge’s DNA, with post-bushfire efforts showcasing a significant investment in hybrid solar and battery infrastructure. Rainwater harvesting, bore water conversion, and the propagation of native plants contribute to the lodge’s eco-friendly initiatives.

Accessibility: Inclusivity in Design

The lodge offers a dedicated wheelchair/mobility-accessible suite with level floors and a modified bathroom. Transport to excursions is provided via touring vehicles, though some locations may pose challenges for guests with limited mobility.

A Memorable Experience: The Best Table in Australia

East of the property, a quarter-of-a-mile boardwalk leads to Australia’s best table, perched on the cliff’s edge. With the Southern Ocean pounding below, guests enjoy an unrivaled view stretching to Antarctica, completing the Southern Ocean Lodge experience.


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