Island in sun remains upmarket playground

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 September, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 September, 1996, 12:00am

Hayman Island has been Australia's leading upmarket sun-and-sea playground since the 1950s. Sir Reg Ansett, founder of Ansett Australia, leased it from the government to build a resort. Following an investment of A$300 million (HK$1,800 million), the resort was revamped in 1987 and is now a 214-room five-star hotel with six restaurants and bars set in the natural wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef.

Although Hayman Island is frequently cited as one of the world's top resorts, it is, of course, The Reef that is its principal attraction. Stretching 2,000 kilometres down the Queensland coastline, supporting about 400 species of coral and more than 5,500 varieties of marine life, it is one of the most diverse eco-systems on the planet. Dominating the resort grounds is a huge salt-water swimming pool - the size of seven Olympic-size pools. There are also two heated freshwater pools and several jacuzzis 10 metres from the beach.

There is para-sailing, water-skiing, game fishing or bottom fishing, coral viewing, snorkelling, dinghy hire and speedboat drop-off to the nearby deserted beaches, yacht cruises, water-sleigh (banana) rides, windsurfing, catamaran sailing and paddle skiing.

The resort's 20-metre Reef Goddess is one of the most sophisticated dive boats around. At speeds of up to 23 knots, it takes visitors on a six-hour outer-reef excursion to one of the two most popular outcrops. A buffet lunch is served on board.

The island's experienced diving team can take you through an introductory course before accompanying you to pontoons at Bait Reef or Hardy Reef. Closer to shore, the Reef Dancer offers a kaleidoscope of vibrant coral gardens and colourful tropical fish - through a glass viewing panel. Hayman has some of the best fishing in the world, which can be enjoyed on a 12.5-metre luxury game fishing boat equipped with the latest chair technology and a range of lures, rods, reels and tackle.

Accommodation is luxurious, with most rooms, and all suites, facing the ocean. Room rates include a complimentary buffet breakfast. For dinner, there is a choice of French, Italian, Australian and Oriental cuisine.

Room rates at Hayman start at A$420, with three-room French-styled penthouse suites costing A$3,000 per night. Alternatively, Swire Travel Hong Kong has a five-day economy package via Ansett Australia, including two nights twin-sharing in Hayman, one night in Sydney on the way back (at the passenger's own expense), for HK$9,999.