.Walking into Southern Ocean Lodge is like walking into Heaven on Earth - the combination of perfection with respect to blended architecture into the environment produces an initial impression that literally took my breath away. Every aspect of the construction and fitting of the property has been obviously carefully planned with passion. The uncompromising standard for ensuring preservation of the environment and landscape is something guests will admire for years to come.
The service levels, suites themselves, quality of wines and beverages, and general ambience one experiences encouraged me to relax - a rare occurrence. I was able to leave my hectic, demanding work schedule behind. I'm sure many who visit this property no longer work, but I do pride myself in running a global business which remains my passion and hobby. So, to find myself at a property that succeeds in encouraging me to leave my “passion and hobby” (i.e. work) behind for a few days is a major accomplishment! Guests feel relaxed and the atmosphere is sophisticated yet informal - sometimes there is a hint of pretentiousness but generally brought in by other guests - certainly not a part of the "demeanor" of Southern Ocean Lodge.
I am almost embarrassed to point out any negatives, but this is a website in which experienced travelers post their candid reviews - and from my expereince reviews are generally accurate to the extreme. I know I do take pride in my reviews and try to be accurate in an effort to assist other global travelers as I have benefited from TripAdvisor reviews myself over the years. One thing - a major thing - would make me either not come back to Southern Ocean Lodge or reduce my stay (stayed 5 nights this trip) - the FOOD. My friend and I tried our best initially to understand and appreciate the food offerings. However, on about the second day, we started giving each other curious looks and finally as hard as we tried not to, just had to break down and start asking about other available food options. Yes, we complained in paradise – something in itself that made me uncomfortable given the obvious efforts the staff made to ensure perfection. The food is "modern", yet whatever label you try to put on it, in reality it is just plain bad. It may hit the mark with some guests but we did not find the food appealing at all. Way too much effort is made on presentation and not enough attention paid to the actual food! After a while, the long explanations about ingredients became extremely annoying and irritating because we knew in reality we would get a morsel of something that probably did not taste very good. Any by "morsel" I mean that in the most literal sense - guests who go hiking or out on excursions should be able to expect food upon returning to the Lodge that is delicious, generous in portion, and with a selection of available foods that will please a diverse group of people who will be traveling from all over the world to experience Kangaroo Island. Finally, the staff's explanation about using local farmers and trying to offer this aspect of dining is fine to a point, but they take it to the extreme. The owners need to actually listen to guests and face facts and reality - they need a new chef and a new concept for their menu offerings. This one “bad food” aspect of the Lodge could ruin a stay and jeopardize reviews - the Lodge management needs to stop imposing their idea of eating on others – it’s just annoying. This is actually a specialty accommodation I would consider returning to next year and bring other friends to, yet without a major adjustment in the menu and discussion with management, this cannot occur.
Another annoyance was the extremely slow internet connection. Many guests will not think this is an issue, as I am sure many I met at the Lodge will not be carrying iPads, Blackberrys, and laptops. However, I do rely on an internet connection when traveling. The lack of a true high speed internet connection made it difficult to work. Even uploading a picture to send home took forever as download/upload speeds are around 0.30 mbps! For those less technical, this is practically dial-up speed. While not a deal breaker, a Lodge of this type considering the other over-the-top technology on display should look into improving internet speeds for guests.
Overall, I cannot complain about Southern Ocean Lodge except for the major food disappointment. I heard some guests complaining about the prices, but honestly I can understand how expensive this property must be to run - guests who come here should be prepared to pay for the luxury and skip Southern Ocean Lodge if budgets are an issue. I view the pricing as a way to ensure exclusivity and privacy as well – aspects of travel I place high value on. At Southern Ocean Lodge, one can be as private and retreat to areas of the property alone or choose to mingle with other well-traveled guests.
I debated about whether to rate this property a "3" or "4" star overall rating but decided it truly deserves a "4" star. Don't get me wrong, this is a true 5-star type property but I don't feel reviews on here are rating the star-level of the property but instead the actual experience of the guest writing the review. So, based on the food alone, I would have given the property a much lower rating but when considering all other aspects, it deserves the higher overall rating I applied.
Aside from the Lodge aspect of the review, I cannot recommend Kangaroo Island itself highly enough. I did see the wildlife I had come to see and the experience was just incredible. By the way, I did take a charter flight from Adelaide to Snug’s Cover private airport which was extremely convenient and an adventure in itself – offering amazing views of the coastline flying in and the thrill of landing on a dirt airstrip in a beautiful area was nice as well. Don’t hesitate to visit Kangaroo Island – you will not be disappointed and consider Southern Ocean Lodge seriously. Just be prepared to go to bed frustrated with what you had to eat during the day and hungry a few nights! Other than that – an amazing experience.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
November 2, 2010
Report response as inappropriate
Thank you for posting this review on Trip Advisor. The team at Southern Ocean Lodge value all contributions to this valuable review platform, and we do appreicate the time and thought given to all posts.
We were so pleased to read that you enjoyed your stay with us and found an opportunity to really relax. Your account of a feeling of 'relaxed sophistication' at the Lodge is spot on. The genuinely warm, 'first name' service certainly sets Southern Ocean Lodge apart, and keeps bringing our guests back!
We have indeed addressed your concerns regarding the food offered during your stay. The culinary philosophy of regional dining at Sothern Ocean Lodge is one that we are passionate about, as it completes a feeling of a sense of place. Our aim is to provide a literal 'taste of Kangaroo Island', to offer guests a uniquely South Australian dining experience, with fresh, locally produced ingredients.
We do appreciate this style of dining is not for everyone however, and have introduced the new 'KI Classics' menu that includes more traditional gourmet fare, still using the local ingrdients but prepared and presented in a different style. This menu is readily available for all guests and is proving to be quite a popular addition to the Lodge food offering.
Broadband internet is offered for guest use throughout the Lodge. As Kangaroo Island's south west coast is a remote destination, connection is sometimes slow and temperamental, and we can only apologise for delays!
We do hope to welcome you back to Southern Ocean Lodge on your next visit to Australia.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.