Southern Ocean Lodge
We cast a discerning eye over the luxury resort, Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island in South Australia, to see whether it lives up to the high standards of women with drive.
Why? Because luxury travel reviews can be difficult to trust. Often the reviewer stays as a guest of the resort, or the publication has the hotel as an advertiser, so the review can be favourably skewed. If you know someone who has stayed at a luxury resort, they can view their experience favourably because they have spent so much to stay there. And review sites such as Trip Advisor are very hit and miss.
So at woman with drive, we’ve decided to review a select number of resorts and travel experiences with our keen sense of quality and value. Our first review is of Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island off the South Australian coast. We booked a “Remarkable Suite” which has an all-inclusive room rate of $1500 per person per night twin share. There is a minimum two night stay. The reviews received for this resort are overwhelmingly good. However, we had a mixed experience, with both delights and disappointments.
The major delight of this resort is the architecture and interior design of the property. The common areas, restaurant and the suites are breathtaking. The modern Scandinavian feel to the interiors coupled with the incredibly close ocean views at every turn ensure you don’t need to stray far from the lodge itself. The Remarkable Suite is certainly remarkable with a large living area, spacious bedroom, luxury bathroom with a view plus outdoor spa that is constantly warm. Regular rooms have less space but are equally well appointed.
Rooms are side by side down a gentle hill, so if you don’t want to walk too far from your room to the common areas, request one closer to the top.
The other delight is the service. The restaurant and bar staff are friendly and efficient without being intrusive. The tour staff are knowledgeable and relaxed. Special mention should go to the housekeeping team who are the most efficient.
The disappointment is in the food and beverage. The expectation of a resort of this calibre is to provide top quality menus and Southern Ocean Lodge markets itself as offering a local and seasonal fine dining experience.
While the presentation of the food was certainly fine dining, the flavours and taste were inconsistent. Rather than celebrating the flavours of local produce, as you would find at The Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld, for example, many dishes are overdone with rich sauces and condiments that seem to drown the key ingredients. Breakfast is a relatively standard affair, lunch is three courses with two options for main, however on two occasions I found both main options unappealing. On one occasion there was a choice between sardines on toast or a basic spaghetti – both seemed less than five star. Dinner is five courses with choices for entrée and main. All courses are small although the right size to feel cumulatively satisfied at the end of your meal. If you are used to dining at restaurants that have achieved chef’s hats, then you may be disappointed.
The all-inclusive tariff includes your suite’s mini-bar, the impressive bar located in the lounge and all beverages during your meal. However, the selection was lacking in some wow-factor. The resort supports local and South Australian wines, so in the mini bar there is a local white wine and red wine which are both very average. The sparkling wine provided is a Petaluma Crosier which while pleasant, is not a delight. I think offering a French Champagne (even a standard Moet) either in the mini-bar, or in the lounge, is in order. However, if you prefer French, you need to purchase from the vintage cellar at a very high price.
So in conclusion, Southern Ocean Lodge is certainly a very impressive resort and a true luxury experience. However to entice a woman with drive to return, the resort would need to up the ante with its wine selection and perhaps consider a change of direction in cuisine.
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