PEACE OF MIND
MAKEPEACE ISLAND ON THE NOOSA RIVER IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR EXCLUSIVE-USE HIRE AS A TOP-END WELLNESS RETREAT
Cue the eighties-style theme song, then roll the vision of a champagne fountain, Rolls-Royce and medieval castle.
Count in the voice-over guy’s intro to the show about wealth, prestige and success that tells how the stars of showbusiness and big business live, love and spend their fortune.
And lead in to the velvety voice of the late Robin Leach as we leave Noosa Marina at Tewantin on the BRIG rigid inflatable boat for a privileged tour that could be a Lifestyles
of the Rich and Famous episode for the 21st century. Or so I thought. The moment I step foot on the wharf of this 10ha, secluded island in the middle of the Noosa River, I realise how wrong my expectations of a millionaires’ playground have been.
It’s clear on the walk up the garden path from The Boathouse – past the cross-legged Balinese Buddha statue in the heart-shaped garden that reflects the island topography – that this isn’t a glitzy, gaudy, ostentatious fantasy palace from that eighties era of over-indulgence, gratification and extravagance.
Makepeace Island is the home away from home for three big-business identities: Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson (Caribbean-based), Virgin Australia co-founder Brett Godfrey (Brisbane) and chair and founder of Light Warrior, Radek Sali (Melbourne).
Once used as a getaway for Virgin employees and special friends of the owners who needed to recharge the batteries, the island has had its own new lease on life with a multi-million-dollar makeover.
While celebrities such as entertainer Justin Bieber have stayed here previously, the new-look island life is expected to appeal to a wider scope of visitors, including high-flyers from the corporate world, those craving a top-end health and wellness retreat and generations of families celebrating significant birthdays and other milestones.
In welcoming people to their island for exclusive-use hire, the owners are giving them a home away from home as well – one with privacy, serenity, accessibility, relaxation and understated luxury.
The welcome bonuses are a team of island staff, your own chef preparing menus to your liking, plus a helicopter landing area and free Wi-Fi that can be switched off if desired.
The makeover of Makepeace has opened up the communal areas, creating relaxing spaces within open-plan areas, adding sprawling lawns and paying greater attention to detail.
The open-style kitchen has been expanded for executive chef Lisa Mahar and her team, a poolside bar and riverside dining hut added, and into the mix comes a games room, library, yoga and meditation sanctuary.
Interior designer June Robinson Scott, who also is responsible for the look of Necker Island and The Branson Estate in the Caribbean, has beautifully married Balinese style with Queensland charm to create something that is unmistakably “Noosa” in its tropical, easy-going feel that accentuates the landscape. The “home” is anything but “homely”. The use of stone and dark timbers offset by white cushioning, leafy-green gardens and indoor plants surround guests and embrace them in comfort.
But it’s also a place where they are encouraged to flop in a sofa, put their feet on the coffee tables and find their own space of solace if needed.
The Long Bar and pool are the hubs of activity, while The Lounge is much more subdued elegance. Dining for up to 22 guests can be arranged in all three areas, depending on the mood.
Many original pieces of beautiful timber furniture from Bali, Java and elsewhere in Indonesia have been incorporated in the new design.
Welsh-born general manager Cathryn Grieve said the makeover also had included upgrades that were “invisible” to the casual observer, such as the new eco sewerage system that included a sand filter and grey-water system irrigating areas outside the main resort, helping to minimise the carbon footprint.
Having project-managed the refurbishment, she was excited for the team to see the finished product: “They’ve worked so hard over winter.”
And she praised those behind the scenes for creating something special: “We have the structures (now) but my team delivers the whole experience.”
The revamp has created accommodation for 22 “castaways” in the four-bedroom Island House, three large one or two-bedroomed villa sanctuaries and The Boathouse that is now a one-bedroom suite commanding absolute riverfront views across to the Noosa North Shore.
Guests can ditch the suit and tie, go barefoot, soak up the sun’s rays, dive into the lagoon-style, riverside saltwater pool and truly make peace with the world.
Seated around The Long Bar table and enjoying lively conversation as we dine on organic beef carpaccio, Tasmanian salmon and a baked apple and creme fraiche ice cream dessert, the visiting Sunshine Coast media certainly start to get a feel for the good life on Makepeace Island.
For three hours we feel like rock stars, pretending to be rich, famous and celebrated – a world away from the everyday, with only the sounds of birdsong, trickling water features and a gentle breeze rustling leaves in the surrounding forest. Not a traffic jam or deadline in sight. Director of sales and marketing Lynne Ireland believes Makepeace Island is a unique offering: “There is no experience like Makepeace in Australia.”
Privacy and exclusivity come at a price, as you’d expect.
The entry-level rate is $10,000 a night for a two-night minimum from April 29–October 13 for up to eight people.
That may sound like you need to win Gold Lotto to afford it until you break it down. The $1250 per person per night includes all food and activities, a meet-and-greet from Sunshine Coast Airport with 20-minute limousine transfers and 10-minute boat transfers to and from the island.
Unlike a similar-priced resort, you are among friends and loved ones, not strangers, on your own private island. The food is catered to your tastes and dietary requirements too, using as much fresh and tasty locally produced ingredients as possible.
As a getaway to a sub-tropical paradise on the other side of the world for stressed-out corporate types, or the chance to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary with extended family all around, or splashing out on a 40th birthday bash for seven “gal pals” only minutes from Hastings St shopping, or honeymooning with your bridal party as a thank-you for their support, or as a well-earned reward for a global organisation’s top salespeople, or simply making memories of a once-in-a-lifetime holiday – that could be priceless.