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The perfect escape

Island of dreams where every guest is a star

Oprah and Johnny Depp adore it - and Jenny Awford brings you the inside story on Australia's most exclusive VIP hideaway

It's hard not to feel like a VIP when you arrive at an exclusive island hideaway on a private 62ft yacht with a glass of champagne in hand.

So it's little wonder that One&Only Hayman Island, in the heart of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, is beloved by A-listers from Oprah to Johnny Depp who are looking for a sanctuary from the outside world.

Being able to reach the remote island only by seaplane, helicopter or yacht adds to the exclusive appeal of the resort, which has celebrated its second birthday following a £48million facelift.

After taking in the pristine white sand and crystal-clear water as we docked in the harbour, we were met by our butler, Ryan, and whisked away to our room on a golf buggy.

Arriving in style to One&Only Hayman Island

And what a room it was – the lower-floor suite had direct access to the hotel's iconic pool, the largest in the southern hemisphere. We immediately changed and dived off our private terrace into the immense saltwater pool for a quick swim.

Our light, contemporary room, one of 160 in the resort on the northernmost point of the Whitsunday archipelago, boasted views onto the azure Coral Sea. With a dining area, lounge, separate bedroom and en-suite bathroom, the stylish suite boasted 75m2 of living space.

The five-star hotel opted to reduce the number of rooms from 209 to 160 in order to give a more luxurious experience – and it has succeeded. It's a masterclass in understated luxury.

Soon after arriving we learned that Thor actor Chris Hemsworth was staying on the island with his wife Elsa Pataky and their three children.

After settling into our room we went for lunch at Aquazure – one of the resort's six restaurants. It offered beautiful views out to sea.

Before long it was time for our sunset peak hike, which would give us breathtaking views of the surrounding islands from the Whitsunday lookout.

The hike really showcased Hayman Island's natural beauty and our guide, Sophie, pointed out some wallabies hiding in the bushes on our return trek.

Hayman Island's interior is still a wild tropical rainforest

After working up an appetite we enjoyed dinner at the resort's Pan-Asian restaurant, Bamboo. Set within an oriental bamboo garden overlooking an authentic koi pond, it was a serene spot.

The following day we took a short speedboat ride to nearby Langford Spit in an effort to see more of Hayman's beautiful surroundings.

We were dropped off at the picturesque spot and then explored along the narrow corridor of pure white sand, which stretches for several hundred metres at low tide.

From jet-ski adventures, to wake-boarding, scuba diving and snorkelling off the island's renowned Blue Pearl Bay, there is something for everyone.

You can even explore the array of marine life in a Seabob – a type of underwater jet-ski.

We decided to try our hand on one of the resort's nine Hobie Cat catamarans, and later jumped on a couple of stand-up paddle boards and had great fun splashing around in the shallows.

After the excitement of the water sports I was then able to relax and unwind at the resort's serene spa.

Our final night was incredibly special as we were able to enjoy the resort's under the stars private dining experience. We were placed in one of the cabanas overlooking the Coral Sea for a romantic dinner.

To finish off a perfect night, we returned to our room where rose petals had been scattered over our bed and in the bath - a perfect parting gift. 

First published in the Daily Mail - October 2016

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