A soil turning ceremony next week at the site of the former Southern Ocean Lodge will signify the official start of rebuilding the next iteration of one of Australia’s most acclaimed resorts.
Come 18 February 2022, it will mark 777 days since a devasting bushfire in early January 2020 ravaged South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, razing the clifftop retreat.
Owners James and Hayley Baillie have always vowed to resurrect their flagship Baillie Lodges’ property in the aftermath of the deadly bushfire, and have faced many hurdles in the process of getting to this point, including more than 30 Country Fire Service imposed conditions. But the rebuild plan has continued to move forward.
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Craig Bradbery, Chief Operating Officer of Baillie Lodges which owns and operates the resort, told LATTE that “building was imminent and about to kick off. It’s very exciting”.
Last week project managers for Southern Ocean Lodge 2.0 – billed as “SOL 2.0” – met with Baillie Lodges’ Co-founder James Baillie and architects to finalise design details.
“It’s all ready to go, which is great. We’re opening probably mid-next year. It’s still a long way off but we’re really excited to get it moving again,” Bradbery said.
South Australia’s Max Pritchard Gunner Architects who designed the original lodge has once again been entrusted with the re-design of SOL 2.0. Baillie Lodges also tasked Pritchard with upgrades of outback sister-property, Longitude 131 at Uluru, which included the new Dune Pavilion.
Bradbery said the original main lodge at Southern Ocean Lodge, the Great Room and Restaurant will largely be replicated in the new construction “almost furniture piece by furniture piece”.
Suite count at SOL 2.0 will be very similar to what was previously offered, which was 21, but will have a different configuration and layout “which will enhance the views” of the ocean.
LATTE can exclusively reveal that one of the most exciting additions for the new version of Southern Ocean Lodge will be a Four Bedroom Owner’s Cottage, which Bradbery describes as “the pinnacle” of luxury and pitched squarely at the ultra-luxe traveller.
The Owner’s Cottage will be modeled on the offering at Baillie Lodges’ New Zealand asset, Huka Lodge in Taupo, which the group acquired just over 12 months ago.
Bradbery was tight-lipped on revealing details on SOL 2.0’s Owner’s Cottage, but for comparison, the Alex van Heeren Cottage at Huka Lodge (pictured below) also has four bedrooms, each with a fireplace and dressing room, ensuite bathrooms, open plan living, kitchen, plunge pool and a heated spa pool – and prime views. Two nights in the cottage starts at over NZ$5,000 per person twin share.
Beyond Southern Ocean Lodge
The Baillie Lodges executive also confirmed The Louise, which the group purchased in mid-2021, will close for three months over winter for a large refurbishment. That project will involve a complete replacement of furniture and decor upgrade, and adjustments to the main lodge. A new walk-in cellar, bar and a private dining room will be introduced as part of the revitalisation.
“We’ll build up the experiences program as well. The Louise has always done this well under its previous owners, but we’ll do much more of it,” Bradbery said. On the table are new partnerships with premium wineries and food producers in the Barossa.
Additionally, a luxury wilderness retreat on Tasmania’s southeast coast is still in the pipeline, Bradbery noted. Announced in late 2017, the $20 million twenty-suite Remarkable Lodge was flagged to open in 2020 at Cresent Bay, close to Port Arthur and adjoining the Tasman National Park.
“[Remarkable Lodge] is still in play. We still have the land and the plans are sitting there,” Bradbery said. “The reality is we just haven’t got around to it with everything else going on. Southern Ocean Lodge obviously took precedence to get that going again.
“But Tasmania is a place that we really, really think has great potential for us, so hopefully a little down the track we’ll be able to circle back and get moving on it,” he said.
Baillie Lodges is a Virtuoso Preferred partner.
Lead image: A render of the new-look Southern Ocean Lodge | Source: Facebook