CHECK IT OUT LIZARD IS­LAND, GREAT BAR­RIER REEF

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - CHRIS­TINE McCABE

Fol­low­ing a 16-month, $45 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ment, north Queens­land’s Lizard Is­land has picked it­self up and dusted off the dam­age caused by cy­clones Ita and Nathan and is fully op­er­a­tional again. The makeover is com­plete with the open­ing of the re­laxed Mar­lin Bar, a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of the beach at the far east­ern end of the re­sort, and the ad­di­tion of a premium two-bed­room villa with pri­vate plunge pool.

Fa­mously claim­ing 24 white sand beaches, one for ev­ery four guests or there­abouts, the Great Bar­rier Reef is­land re­sort re­opened in June but work on the re­fit has only just wrapped up. All 40 gue­strooms and suites have a cool new coastal look, thanks to Mel­bourne-based de­sign firm Hecker Guthrie and come equipped with large flat-screen tele­vi­sions, premium sound sys­tems and com­pli­men­tary mini­bars; the bath­rooms fea­ture lux­ury Parisian La Bios­the­tique toi­letries.

The six Sun­set Point Plunge Pool Vil­las each fea­ture easy beach ac­cess, am­ple seat­ing on a pri­vate deck with views over An­chor Bay or Sun­set Beach and a heated plunge pool. That new premium twobed­room villa is the pick of the re­sort’s digs, sit­u­ated on a se­cluded ridgetop and fea­tur­ing a large liv­ing area, 15m bal­cony over­look­ing Sun­set and Peb­bly beaches, an 8m in­fin­ity pool and in-room (or pool­side) cham­pagne and canapés ev­ery evening.

The re­sort’s smart new look ex­tends to the restau­rant, Drift­wood Bar and a wine room. Lizard Is­land is a na­tional park 27km off the coast, cov­er­ing more than 1000ha and ac­ces­si­ble via a one-hour flight from Cairns.

DON’T MISS: Some pam­per­ing time away from the beach in the Essen­tia Day Spa.

DIN­ING IN AND OUT: Ex­ec­u­tive chef Mark Jensen over­sees daily-chang­ing menus in the re­vamped Salt Wa­ter Restau­rant with wines se­lected by critic Jeremy Oliver. The space has been ex­panded to max­imise broad An­chor Bay views and in­cludes an open kitchen. A typ­i­cal lunch menu might in­clude seafood laksa or Tas­ma­nian oys­ters with caviar salsa. Din­ner could be co­ral trout with a pine nut crust, sir­loin with mash and pick­led fennel, per­haps pea ravi­oli with wild mush­rooms. Fancy pop­ping out? Grab a dinghy and a pic­nic and make for one of those snug beaches.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Meet the chef to plan a pri­vate seven-course de­gus­ta­tion sun­set din­ner.

CHECK­ING IN: Rooms from $1365 a night, in­clud­ing meals, un­lim­ited non-al­co­holic beverages, Aus­tralian wines, beer, sprits and sparkling wine, in-room mini bar, pic­nic ham­pers, and use of non-mo­torised wa­ter sports equip­ment and mo­torised dinghies. More: lizardis­land.com.au.

ALSO TRY: Lau­cala Is­land Re­sort, Fiji; Maal­i­fushi by COMO Mal­dives; Amilla Fushi, The Mal­dives; The Datai, Langkawi, Malaysia.

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