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October 31, 2013updated Feb 14, 2014

Decadence Down Under

By Chris Boyle


Hamilton Island, Australia’s resort mecca developed as the vision of local vintner/sailor Bob Oatley to the tune of about $350 million, is the luxury gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.

The unparalleled qualia resort, comprising 60 eco-forward villas nestled in the eucalyptus groves on the north-most edge of the island, is the Oatley family’s crowning achievement. And the 2,583-square-foot, two-bedroom Beach House (about $3,454 to $4,164 a night) is the jewel of that crown.

Deemed a perfect introduction to Australia by Oprah Winfrey, this accommodation was the media star’s first stop on a recent visit to Oz a couple of years ago.

The harmonious “haute-hut” design by architect Chris Beckingham roots guests in the scrubby, tropical environment without giving up a single inch of the latest residential comforts.

To wit: Cutting-edge entertainment technology, a 10-person dining area, separate guesthouse for the entourage, and a full-sized private swimming pool (all situated a few privacy-ensuring steps away from the resort’s public pool/beach club hub) combine to serve as your luxurious retreat among wandering wallabies and friendly sulphur-crested cockatoos.

Get out on the water (or under it) during the day, by all means. Hamilton sports its own small but fully equipped marina and harbor center.

When you return from your aquatic adventures an incredibly idyllic, silent, and Zen-worthy spa awaits (try a signature Li’tya Kodo “melody” massage), as does the exceptional cuisine of Scottish chef Alastair Waddell, who melds the bounty of the Whitsunday Islands’ seafood varieties with Australia’s own multicultural mosaic.

Another plus: Brand new GM Matthew Taverner is the man who pretty much established Bali’s legendary Begawan Giri resort as a jetsetter must-visit.

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