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Content accurate at time of publication

01 Sep 2011

NATURAL INDULGENCE

A short ferry or flight from the mainland lies Kangaroo Island, which bills itself as Australia’s Galapagos but is better thought of as a rugged, rambling place of extraordinary natural beauty.

Its most glorious vantage point is Southern Ocean Lodge, a decadent sanctuary devoted to the worship of nature and indulgence. An odd mix, granted, but it’s surprising how well the two go together. Entering the hall at Southern Ocean Lodge will make you gasp: The brilliance of the blue ocean and the stream of sunlight seem to cast a spell over the glass-walled interiors.

The decor reflects the good taste of owners James and Hayley Baillie. In the hall, imaginative furniture and fittings by Adelaide interior designer Khai Liew pairs seamlessly with imported luxuries like Danish Prime Time easy chairs, a French fireplace and lustrous Italian limestone flooring. The 21 suites have varying layouts. Ocean Retreat, for example, features a wall of spotted gum, mezzanine lounge with fireplace, and from the bedroom and bathroom, glossy views of a small bay where you can catch sight of dolphins frolicking in the surf break. It is terrific therapy just sitting here gazing at the graduated blues of the Southern Ocean, made even more perfect with a glass of Croser Vintage bubbles from the complimentary bar.

When the outdoors beckon, you may find yourself rambling through coastal mallee scrub along 40m high clifftops, waves crashing below as you admire the sculptured stone coastline and the way sky and sea seem to merge on the horizon. Or venture further afield to some of the island’s icons – the Wildlife Sanctuary at Hanson Bay, the otherworldly monoliths known as Remarkable Rocks and the seal colonies at Cape du Couedic.

In this rugged and remote setting, it seems the ultimate indulgence to house a spa, and Southern Ocean Lodge Spa is certainly no afterthought or half-hearted attempt at sophistication. Buffered against the elements in its cloak of glass and wood, the spa is just a two-room affair but don’t be deceived by its humble facade. Inside awaits one of Australia’s best spa therapists, Scott Howard. Surrender to his marvellous massage (each customised to the needs of his guests) and feel your body explode with bliss bombs of endorphins – just another of South Australia’s natural highs.