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My Own Private Island: Australia's Wilson Island

March 4, 2011 at 9:36 AM | by | ()

All this week, HotelChatter contributor Eric Rosen will be taking us on a guided tour of the globe’s most exclusive, luxurious, over-the-top vacation retreats in our new Private Islands Series. We’ll venture from the Bahamas to Fiji, from Africa’s crystalline Lake Tanganyika to the emerald waters of Cambodia, and everywhere in between. That is, everywhere you can be ruler of your own little island.

All good things must come to an end, and so it is with our exclusive series on Private Islands. We’ll be headed back to our usual coverage of run-of-the-mill hotels, but before we do, we’re casting away to a tiny coral cay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef called Wilson Island.

Castaway Cool

Wilson Island is located just above the Tropic of Capricorn, 45 miles or so from the Queensland coast, and about 350 miles north of Brisbane. Guests must get themselves to the town of Gladstone (which is connected to most major Australian cities by Qantas) and then to Heron Island, where they are then ferried to Wilson Island via boat transfer, taking about 2 hours. Guests in a hurry can also opt for a helicopter ride between the islands, though there’s a luggage weight restriction.

Then again, you won’t really need much more than a bathing suit and a couple t-shirts. That’s because the only others you’ll be sharing the 5.24-acre Wilson Island with are the indigenous birds and turtles, not to mention the profusion of underwater life that you’ll be hanging out with during your daily swims.

Oh, and in case you didn’t think that even this was secluded enough…there’s no cell phone coverage on the island. Breathe! You can live without your tether to the modern world for a few days. As long as we’re purging, forget about your laptop, too, as well as anything else you need to plug in because all power on the island is provided by battery or solar power, so no appliances, sorry. Time to commune with your surroundings.

Tent Time

This is one of the most exclusive islands we’ve told you about—only twelve people at a time are allowed there. They are housed in six permanent tents with reef and ocean views. But this is no common campground.

These tents are of the glamping variety. They have raised timber floors, king-size beds with plush pillows and duvets, bedside tables and storage chests, sun decks with chairs and hammocks, bath and beach towels, guest toiletries, insect and mosquito netting, personal insect repellant, and daily housekeeping. Remember, this is still camping, though, so when you want to take a shower, you head to the Washhouse Building, where each tent has its own shower and bathroom area.

Shipwrecked in Style

The other communal building is the Longhouse, where guests dine and relax around a long table next to the open kitchen. There’s a library, a beverage cooler and snacks here that guests are welcomed to graze on. The Community Tent is also in the common area where guests come to relax, and has open sides, a large daybed, armchairs, magazines, binoculars for nature-spotting.

The meals served are all included in the price packages, and menus focus on freshness, simplicity and variety that stays true to the Australian surroundings. Breakfast is a “tropical buffet,” which we take to mean lots of fruit, along with hot breakfasts made to order. Lunch is more of a smorgasbord which guests can take to picnic at the beach, and then in the evenings, guests are invited to sunset cocktails and canapés before a candlelit dinner party-style supper around the long table (imagine all that fresh seafood and fish!), with music in the background. Australian wines, Champagne, beer, soft drinks, juices and bottled water are all on hand, and there’s also a Cellar Masters list of special wines available for purchase.

Reef Recreation

When you’re all settled in, it’s time to explore one of the most naturally stunning places on earth. You can just enjoy the sunshine by relaxing in your hammock, or take a self-guided hike around the little island. If you come in the right season, though (around April-May by our calculations), you can watch green and loggerhead turtles laying their eggs, or even the babies hatching. Then, of course, there’s snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef almost as soon as you walk into the ocean with some of the world’s most brightly colored mushrooming coral formations.

The luxury tents start at $671 AUD (about $680 USD) per night each, so all you have to do to get the whole island to yourself is to round up a few friends to pool together the $4,080 per night.

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