8 October 2014 by Tim Tan
From wildlife-rich Kangaroo Island to the lush rainforests of the Daintree National Park, we take a look at Australia's best luxury lodges
Luxury Lodges of Australia can be found in the country's remotest and most beautiful regions. Putting aside the faultless service, luxurious accommodation, fantastic facilities and superb dining, it's the location above all that makes these remarkable properties stand out from the crowd.
Here we take a closer look at five of our favourites: Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island's rugged southwest coast; Silky Oaks Lodge, in the stunning jungle setting of Queensland's Daintree National Park; Emirates Wolgan Valley, in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains of New South Wales; El Questro Homestead, surrounded by the stark outback landscapes of the Kimberley in Western Australia; and Saffire Freycinet, which overlooks the tranquil waters of Great Oyster Bay on Tasmania's beautiful east coast.
Southern Ocean Lodge, Kangaroo Island
Incomparable views of the Southern Ocean, an abundance of native wildlife and perfect isolation in one of Australia's most breathtaking coastal settings mark Southern Ocean Lodge out as one of Australia's finest luxury lodges. Step into the vast, modernist lounge and huge glass windows put you immediately in touch with the spectacular coastal wilderness outside, while the lodge's 21 luxury suites feature stripped wood flooring, sunken lounges and more of those enormous windows with views across the Great Southern Ocean and Kangaroo Island's rugged, windswept coast. Stay here and you'll enjoy personalised itineraries that show off the island's extraordinary wildlife, including fur seals, sea lions, kangaroos, possums, wallabies, bandicoots and more. There's also a wonderful coastal boardwalk leading to the lodge's spa, and a fantastic restaurant, which celebrates the bounty of organic produce and award-winning wines for which South Australia is renowned.
Silky Oaks Lodge, Daintree National Park
Surrounded on all sides by the lush, vibrant rainforest of Queensland's World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park - one of the world's oldest living rainforests - Silky Oaks Lodge and Healing Waters Spa is one of Australia's finest luxury eco lodges. Enjoy fine dining, accompanied by magical views of the rainforest canopy at the lodge's superb Treehouse Restaurant; discover the diverse flora and fauna of the National Park on a journey along the tranquil waters of the Daintree River; enjoy a range of unique treatments and massages at the award-winning Healing Waters Spa; learn about the region's fascinating aboriginal history; bike and hike along the many trails leading from the lodge, deep into the rainforest; and relax and sleep in the contemporary surroundings of a custom designed and beautifully furnished Billabong Suite, Riverhouse or Treehouse, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, oak and rosewood furniture, stylish, luxury bathrooms and a myriad of modern amenities.
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, Blue Mountains
Seclusion, style and a spectacular setting: At Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, you'll experience true luxury in the heart of the Australian bush, just three hours by road from Sydney and adjacent to the spectacular Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Set within its own private wildlife and conservation reserve, a 4,000-acre region of spectacular Aussie outback, this award-winning luxury lodge delivers sustainable, environmentally sound living in one of the most beautiful and remote corners of New South Wales. Each of the lodge's 40 suites boasts its very own private indoor/outdoor pool, a spacious verandah with views across the surrounding landscape, a pair of mountain bikes, binoculars for viewing wildlife, a luxurious en suite bathroom, walk in wardrobes and a separate lounge. And while you're not out exploring the region's wildlife and wilderness, you can sample the quality and ingredients and fresh, seasonal produce that reflect the lodge's organic food philosophy and go into creating Emirates Wolgan Valley's world-class and uniquely Australian cuisine.
El Questro Homestead, Kimberley
It's very hard to imagine anywhere that lives up to the remote tag quite as much as El Questro Homestead, set amid one million acres of pristine wilderness, 100 kilometres from the nearest town in Western Australia's Kimberley. Perched on a cliff and surrounded by a rich green lawn and inviting swimming pool overlooking the tranquil waters of Chamberlain Gorge, the breathtaking setting alone makes this luxury lodge, which hosts just 18 guests at any one time, the place to stay in the Kimberley. The accommodation here is spectacular; a collection of nine, chic and sophisticated king rooms with authentic Australian furnishings set against the rugged backdrop of the Kimberley. As you'd expect, food and wine play an integral part in the El Questro experience, and guests are encouraged to choose from a number of unique dining locations, which include a romantic, private cliff top and a series of spacious verandas with views of the surrounding landscape, to sample an ever-changing menu of Australian-inspired dishes, created from the freshest local ingredients, sourced from the nearby Ord River Valley and supplemented by the bountiful riches of Western Australia's farms and coastline. Guests at El Questro can look forward to a wide range of excursions, taking in the springs, gorges, waterfalls and rivers of the Kimberley by horseback, bike foot and helicopter.
Saffire Freycinet, Tasmania
This luxurious coastal sanctuary enjoys a spectacular location on Tasmania's stunning east coast with views across Great Oyster Bay to the peaks of the Hazard Mountains and the forested landscapes of the Freycinet Peninsula. Saffire's 20 luxury suites are designed and furnished to reflect the region's unique nature and coastline, mixing traditional and contemporary styles with locally made timber furniture. Huge, floor-to-ceiling picture windows frame magnificent views of the surrounding scenery, creating a sophisticated escape, designed to relax, rejuvenate and inspire in equal measure. Tasmania, which boasts some of the cleanest air and water in the world, is of course renowned for its food and wine, and with a climate similar to that of southern France, guests can enjoy a glass of chardonnay, pinot noir or sparkling wine, produced just minutes from Saffire's front door, while local, grass-fed beef, Tasmanian lamb, locally farmed oysters and mussels, fresh herbs, vegetables and seasonal fruit all feature regularly on the lodge's menus. Those who can peel themselves away from the allures of the lodge itself, will discover the stuning nature, deserted islands, wild bushland and secluded beaches of the Freycinet National Park. Take a trip in the lodge's custom-built boat, The Saffire, to visit beautiful Schouten Island; take to the waters of the Freycinet Marine Farm to learn about the local oyster and mussel industries; jump on a mountain bike and ride the rugged trails around nearby Cape Tourville; and experience the amazing array of wildlife, including seals, dolphins, penguins and whales, which are regularly seen in the waters surrounding the lodge. And when the adventures are over, indulge in a relaxing massage or treatment at Spa Saffire, with a bespoke spa menu created by well-known spa guru Kirien Withers, celebrity facialist Marionne de Candia and natural therapy expert Dr Jean Laing.