The difference between a two-week vacation and a yearlong trip around the world? You can’t go home to refuel. After 100 days on the road I found myself staring down the short end of a very long trip with a gas tank that was very clearly reading “E.” 

The solution arrived in the form of a yacht, a lady holding out a glass of sparkling wine and a view that offered blue waters, white cresting waves and the promise of beauty above and below the waters. (Which, when you think about it, really isn’t a bad way for a solution to arrive.) 

Luxury yacht is only one of the three ways you can get to Hayman Island. The others: Helicopter or Seaplane.

Equally amazing options, I’d say. Before we boarded that yacht we took a flight to get us into Australia and another to get from Brisbane to Hamilton Island where the yacht was waiting. If it seems like a lot of work to get to a tiny island, you’re missing the point. The fact that it takes some effort to get there, makes the reward that much sweeter. 

Hayman Island is a private island resort located off the eastern coast of Australia. For 60 years it has been regarded as the premium luxury getaway in Australia. I have met Australians who salivate at its name and mentioning we had been invited to visit almost always caused a raised eyebrow and a dropped jaw. It’s that exclusive. 

And so when in February 2011, it was knocked around by not one, but two cyclones that did enough damage to force a 5 month closure, the luxury island visiting public held its breath. 

Its recent re-opening is reason for a collective sigh of relief: Hayman Island is even more beautiful than before. The island’s vegetation ripped, shredded and salted by the cyclones has been restored and enhanced. More than 33,000 plants were brought on to the island and planted creating the only hotel botanical garden in the world. Famed Australian landscape designer Jamie Drurie was brought in and he upped the ante, creating a plant paradise that includes 40 species of plants brought in just because they smell good. A 5-star award winning, Great Hotels of the World property, they have luxury locked up. Rooms all have stunning views of either the lagoon or the pool. And the backdrop to it all is the stunning Great Barrier Reef.  

All of this luxury would suggest an older adults clientele but not so. Young couples flock to the beach villas, which offer romantic private enclaves and test out the cocktail themed cupcakes. And families flock to the suites – thrilled to have found a getaway where they can have the luxuries they crave without having to give up family time and watching their kids chase cockatiels up and down the beach. 

The fact that Hayman is also one of only a few 5 star properties in the country that welcomes kids of any age only makes it more enticing.

Days are wiled away or filled as you choose. The fitness facilities include rotating tennis pros from Peter Burwash International who are as happy to teach the game to a beginner, as they are to work on a particular aspect of your swing.  Prefer something more leisurely? Take to the croquet yard or borrow one of the windsurfers, kayaks or catamarans for a day on the water. 

For me, the most amazing thing about this property is the ability it offers guests to completely disappear within it. On a rare afternoon where the kids are in the kids club and my husband and I have a few hours free to explore we discover a hidden sanctuary. To your right a waterfall and a bench for two, so much a part of the landscape that you have to do a double take to realize it’s there. To your left a trail through a butterfly garden, and throughout, shrubs, twisted trees and surprising bursts of color that dare you to resist snapping a photo or lowering your nose for a sniff. 

The property is breathtakingly beautiful but it’s the staff that truly makes it memorable. The island oasis isn’t just a job for them. 

When the cyclones hit, staff– were given the choice to leave.  Almost all of them stayed on, working with clean-up crews and renovation teams to make sure the island was restored. Employees don’t do that if they aren’t treated well. To hear them tell it– Hayman is their home. They live here, raise their kids here (there is a school on the island for staff children) and grow to see each other as family.

And so when you visit, you by extension are a guest in their home and you feel it.

Guests return year after year. And despite the distance and the many countries left on this trip of a lifetime, we find ourselves contemplating joining them.