Kangaroo Island resorts blend luxury with hands-on conservation

Oceanview Eco Villas offer a truly bespoke island experience.

What do you get when you cross a clinical psychologist with a policeman – a luxury eco resort on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island.

Kangaroo Island locals Tamsin and Tim Wendt left behind their former professions to become the owners/hosts of Oceanview Eco Villas, one of the newest luxury properties to open in this unspoilt landscape that is just a 40-minute flight from Adelaide.

Despite launching during one of the worst times for Kangaroo Island, which endured a devasting bushfire followed by a pandemic, Oceanview Eco Villas is building a strong reputation in what is a growing sector – sustainable luxury experiences.

Set on 500 acres, with over 1km of north facing coastline and private beach, the property is completely self-sufficient.

“We were clear that we wanted to bring both luxury and sustainability and see how far we could bring them together,” Tamsin says.

“The whole property is completely off grid, with no mains power, no mains water, and the buildings all work on passive solar principles and are an eco design and build.”

Oceanview hosts Tamsin and Tim Wendt.

Oceanview Eco Villas also partnered with the Landscapes Board in 2022 for a major revegetation project on the property, planting over 5,000 native trees and bushes endemic to the Island, including over 550 sheoaks as habitat for the endangered Glossy Black Cockatoo.

This is no vanity project, it is literally a race against time, with only a few hundred of these rare cockatoos left.

Kangaroo Island is also the only place in South Australia where you can walk on the beach amongst a breeding colony of Australian sea lions, which are also endangered.

It is this connection with nature that brings travellers from far and wide, who while guests at the property become part of the local community through the personalised service of their hosts, Tim and Tamsin.

Tamsin’s business card says co-director, but on the property she spends most of her time in the commercial kitchen as executive chef.

Tim also multi-tasks in the kitchen as well as leading private tours for guests with a team of local accredited naturalist guides. While the vehicles are luxury brands, it is the access to community knowledge that provides “a window into their world in terms of island life”.

Tamsin says her training in psychology has translated well to life in the kitchen and hospitality.

“It is really about attention to detail, and also taking the time to think about what will create the best experience for our guests,” she says.

“The luxury experience is a lot more than a marble countertop, and that the privilege we have is in turning great experiences into wonderful memories for our guests.”

Sea Dragon Kangaroo Island is available for corporate retreats. (Photo: SATC)

Sea Dragon Kangaroo Island is another luxury property on the island that is leaning into conservation and sustainability in a big way.

Co-owner John Greenslade says the Eco-Tourism accredited property, which is also off-grid, is primarily driven by wanting to minimise its footprint on the incredible natural environment of Eastern Kangaroo Island.

“That is not a burden rather a chance to share and celebrate what we have been able to achieve in such a sensitive natural environment,” he says.

Sea Dragon also runs private tours across the island using a fleet of 11-seat Mercedes Sprinter vehicles.

Greenslade says the property is now in a position to offer corporate retreat opportunities as its increases its accommodation capacity and facilities including exclusive use of the property, especially from May to September.

“This has very much been in our thoughts as we increase accommodation from 16 to 23 guest rooms, suites and villas by July 2025 and expand the onsite dining facilities to cater for such specialist guest requirements,” he says.

With plenty of repeat business from the US, UK and Europe, Greenslade says the luxury market has shifted.

“The so-called high-end market segment from our perspective has evolved from being less indulgent to more actively engaged, experiential and conservation conscious,” he says.