Exploring South Australia and Kangaroo Island – Australia’s Best Down Under Escapes

Well suited for corporate retreats and incentive trips, South Australia and Kangaroo Island boast world-class vineyards, lodging, and one-of-a-kind animal-driven adventures

For executive travelers and groups, South Australia is full of unique, unforgettable experiences. Recently named one of the great wine capitals of the world (along with Bordeaux, Napa Valley, and Mendoza), South Australia also boasts exquisite cuisine, beautiful beaches, and opportunities to witness exotic wildlife in its natural habitat on Kangaroo Island.

To get to South Australia without fueling up the Bombardier Global 6000, take Air New Zealand, a recent Top Airline of the World award winner from Condé Nast, from Los Angeles to Auckland (a mere 12-hour flight) and then fly into Adelaide, Australia (another 4 hours). Though faced with 16 hours in the air, Air New Zealand takes the stress out of the trip and adds comfort, winning the Condé Nast award thanks to a first-class-quality entertainment system at every seat, business class lie-flat seats, and spacious premium economy sections.

Southern Hemisphere Hospitality

Adelaide is the capital city of the state of South Australia and the fifth most populous on the continent. Roughly an hour from many of Australia’s finest attractions – acclaimed wine region, renowned outback, and stunning coastlines – the boutique city is a great place to hold executive retreats and meetings. Adelaide has many elegant, yet reasonably priced, lodging options and well-received restaurants.

The Mayfair Hotel, located in the heart of  Adelaide, is a beautifully renovated Romanesque-style heritage building. The Mayflower restaurant and bar on the lower level offers a gourmet breakfast with a mix of healthy and gluttonous options for business travelers. The hotel also features Hennessy, a chic indoor-outdoor rooftop bar. Across the street from Rundle Mall, members of your team can walk to restaurants, bars, and cultural attractions – notably the South Australian Museum.

Exterior of the Mayfair Hotel in Adelaide, Australia

Ten minutes by foot from The Mayfair Hotel is The Botanic Garden of South Australia, featuring beautifully landscaped gardens, parks, and plants native to the region. At The Botanic Gardens Restaurant, Chef Paul Baker shapes the menu daily, incorporating the finest in local Australian produce, fresh vegetables, and herbs harvested from the gardens. Other dining experiences not to be missed by your team include the ultra-social 2KW Bar & Restaurant, with an open rooftop bar and stunning views of the city, and Press* Food & Wine Restaurant, where Head Chef Andrew Davies dishes out gourmet pasta and seafood.

Wisteria Lane inside the Adelaide Botanic Garden // Photo via Isaak Schiller Photography

Penfolds Magill Estate, just a 15-minute drive from the city, is absolutely worth the trip. Established in 1844, the estate is nestled within the foothills of the city and offers breathtaking vineyard views. Penfolds features tastings, tours, high-quality cuisine, and vintage wine collections in the magnificently-envisioned cellar, including former Chief Winemaker’s personal collection of Grange.

Within Penfolds Winery

Just a Short Hop Away

A mere 30-minute flight from Adelaide is the exotic Kangaroo Island, a sanctuary for wildlife with rugged and breathtaking terrain from beaches to bushland. Home to koalas, wallabies, kangaroos, fur seals, sea lions, echidnas (the Southern Hemisphere’s porcupine), and much more, the island is occasionally compared by some to the Galapagos Islands.

Southern Ocean Lodge is a world-class, all-inclusive resort and spa that elicits the feeling that you are now in the middle of a Daniel Craig James Bond film. With only 21 suites, the resort and staff host no more than 46 guests at a time – making it the perfect getaway for you and the team. The finite number of rooms and guests on property affords the staff the ability to provide world-class hospitality and personalized service. The architecture of this resort is nothing short of spectacular. One story and accented with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, you are treated to landscape views of the bushland on one side and sweeping cliff-side ocean views on the other. Rooms are impeccably designed and the property’s views and amenities are more well-appointed than most luxury vacation villas.

Looking into one of Southern Ocean Lodge’s 21 rooms

The resort features premium all-inclusive beverages and dining, including a wine cellar room housing some of the best regional wine and champagne. Executive Chef Asher Blackford’s menu features sustainable produce-to-plate selections such as local queen snapper, rolled pork shoulder, and desserts made with Ki Lavender or Ligurian honey. Tour guides take small groups and individual guests on personalized trips to explore the island and experience the wildlife up close. These tours are often followed by champagne, wine, hot tea, and snacks.

Flinders Chase National Park is one of Australia’s largest parks, covering 74,000 hectares of untouched bushland full of kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies. Couple the wildlife with the scenic ocean views and nearby rock formations and you’ve got yourself a moment fitting of the “shot on an iPhone” slogan. On my trip, I was on a guided tour and managed to observe a field full of kangaroos, lingering long enough to catch a little boxing. Outside of the ring, I was lucky enough to observe koalas in their natural environment while also visiting Seal Bay, seeing (from a safe distance, of course) Australia’s third-largest colony of sea lions.

Getting lost within Flinders Chase National Park

Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island lives up to its reputation, offering a lavish five-star getaway alongside truly unique opportunities for executives. The property and its programs are worthy of top incentive trips and higher-end executive retreats. It is also well suited for executives who wish to take their family to a location that is both relaxing and filled with educational, fun adventure.

Speaking from experience, though it took a while to get there, it was far more difficult to leave. South Australia may not be as well-known as Sydney or Melbourne, but this hidden gem is the corporate treat or incentive trip destination your peers have not yet discovered.