Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - Escape - WORDS: SHIRLEY SIN­CLAIR

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.

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