After the glamourless year that was 2020, we’re all crying out for a little escapism – a flight of fancy, if you will. Which is why in this regular column we’re bringing you decadent and dazzling holiday stories from Australian jet-setters. Superyachts! Private planes! Caviar on speed dial! All without leaving the country. In our latest instalment, Anna McCooe – lifestyle editor of marie claire Australia – reminisces about her own VIP moment…
It’s 8.30am on a Monday and I’m on assignment to sample the high life when I give myself away. The air I’d cultivated just 30 minutes earlier, swinging out of my limo red-carpet style and floating towards the airport hangar, disseminates as I hand over my phone to capture my VIP tarmac moment. But if you board a private jet to the Great Barrier Reef and don’t ‘gram it, did it even really happen?
As a lifestyle journalist, I occasionally venture beyond real-life to experience the ways of the rich and fabulous. On this day in June 2019, I’m travelling as a guest of Hayman Island by Intercontinental in the lead up to their grand opening. The flurry of PRs, managing directors and hospitality gurus are putting on a show – when you spend $135 million on a relaunch you’re going to want the media to have a good time.
The Whitsundays paradise that is Hayman Island has a long history as a billionaire playground. First developed in the 1950s by airline mogul Reg Ansett, it’s where Rupert Murdoch summoned top politicians Tony Blair and Paul Keating to bid for his support, and where celebrities like Elton John and Leonardo DiCaprio escape the paps in this part of the world. In 2017, when the island operated under the One&Only banner, it was devastated by Cyclone Debbie and closed for two years. So after flying to neighbouring Hamilton Island and then boarding the resort catamaran (a luxe, champagne-fuelled journey in its own right) we are among the first guests to step foot on the born-again haven two months before it reopens under the Intercontinental brand.
At lunch we dine on the lofty balcony of one of the uber-exclusive Hayman Est residences, designed by the late, great Australian architect Kerry Hill, and selling for around $12 million a pop. Champagne by the infinity pool is followed by lychee martinis and a sublime five-course lunch to sample each of the island’s five new restaurants. By the time we board the helicopter for an aerial view of the reef on departure, I’m believing my own VIP act.
Hayman Island by Intercontinental rooms start at $600/night. Visit haymanisland.intercontinental.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My life in travel
Favourite Aussie holiday memory
“My parents were creatures of habit, so every year we went to a guest house called Craigieburn in Bowral. It had three-course lunches and four-course dinners every day and highland dancing nights and trivia. It’s where I learned to play golf and appreciate pate.”
Next local holiday
“Melbourne to check out the new Quincy Hotel and to eat my way through the CBD and Fitzroy.”
On my Australian bucket list…
“Satellite Island, Tasmania, with friends and chef Sarah Glover cooking up a feast over fire.”