Kangaroo Island’s multi award-winning luxury retreat Southern Ocean Lodge celebrates ten years of operations on March 29th, offering a chance to reflect on the boost generated to the island and South Australian economies over the decade.
The Baillie Lodges property envisioned by life and business partners James and Hayley Baillie was an ambitious project for its location on Kangaroo Island’s remote, pristine southwest coast, demanding some five years’ planning and approvals in the lead up to opening on March 29, 2008.
Designed by Kangaroo Island-born architect Max Pritchard, Southern Ocean Lodge appears to float along its clifftop position and represents a new breed of luxury, where the wildly beautiful location is reflected indoors, and local artworks, sculptures and custom furnishings create a timeless appeal.
Over the past ten years, Southern Ocean Lodge has welcomed more than 37,000 guests to stay from across 40 different countries, with international and domestic visitors arriving in roughly equal numbers. Southern Ocean Lodge has attracted its share of loyal fans, with almost 200 guests returning for ten or more stays at over this time.
In 2017 tourism to Kangaroo Island (KI) brought $137m^ in visitor expenditure to the South Australian economy, on track for an expected $168m contribution by 2020. More than 130 tourism businesses support 500 jobs on the island. A comparison of data from the Survey of Tourist Accommodation* (STA) on Kangaroo Island shows accommodation revenue grew from $6.4m in FY2008 to $16.8m in FY2016, an increase of 163 per cent.
Essential to the Southern Ocean Lodge concept is a ‘sense of place’, where guests are treated to a world-class menu created exclusively from local ingredients – from American River oysters and Southrock free-range lamb to sustainably produced marron and barramundi – enjoyed with a help-yourself bar of fine South Australian wine and small-batch beers and spirits.
On average every month, Southern Ocean Lodge’ local produce orders include:
To mark the milestone, Hayley Baillie has compiled a journal-style book, A Celebration of Timeless Design, charting the journey of the lodge from planning through construction and its first ten years of operation. The book champions the local operators who have played an integral role in the project, including tour operators, food and wine producers, artists, furniture designers and sandstone workers.
A new airport lounge accessible exclusively to Southern Ocean Lodge guests will also be unveiled mid-year, designed by architect Max Pritchard as part of the redevelopment of Kingscote Airport.
South Australian Tourism Commission Chief Executive Rodney Harrex said the standards set by Southern Ocean Lodge over its ten-year tenure had been incredibly high and were a benchmark for high end luxury tourism experiences.
“Congratulations to Southern Ocean Lodge on this incredible milestone. The team are doing great work in building the profile of the region, creating jobs and supporting local communities and industries – all while providing guests a world class experience,” Mr Harrex said.
“The luxury retreat has a strong reputation globally and is a key economic driver for Kangaroo Island.”
Luxury Lodges of Australia Executive Officer Penny Rafferty said Southern Ocean Lodge marked a new era in Australian luxury lodging, with a new breed of super high end, experience-focused lodges established around this time in remarkable destinations around the country.
“Southern Ocean Lodge was an absolute catalyst and leader in the luxury lodge field. The magnitude and plain gutsiness of the project was unlike anything we’d seen previously in Australia,” Ms Rafferty said.
“It gave quality tourism and hospitality operators the confidence to invest deeply in this style of high-end experiential product in incredible, often very remote Australian regions. It was a game changer for Kangaroo Island, South Australia, and Australia globally.”
Baillie Lodges’ James Baillie said Southern Ocean Lodge had been an incredible achievement both professionally and personally for him and his wife Hayley.
“We were really up against it from the start. Southern Ocean Lodge is in a remote, difficult location, where the next stop south is Antarctica. But we both really believed in the project and were determined to see it through,” Mr Baillie said.
“To see Southern Ocean Lodge thriving a decade on, exceeding guest expectations and recognised as setting the bar in luxury lodgings makes Hayley and I feel proud and privileged for the opportunity.”