Makepeace Island

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 April, 2012, 12:00am


Where is it? You'd think an exotic island owned by a flamboyant billionaire would be hidden somewhere in the middle of an ocean. Not so for Richard Branson's latest home. Makepeace Island is a 10-minute speedboat ride along the Noosa River or a 90-minute drive from Brisbane's international airport, in the Australian state of Queensland.

What is it? It's a private sub-tropical island built as a retreat for family and friends of Branson and co-owner Brett Godfrey (who co-founded Virgin Blue). The island is rented out to travellers with cash to burn and comes complete with staff.

A billionaire's home! Wow, is it super luxe? Well, it depends on how you define luxury. There's nothing ostentatious about Makepeace Island, so don't expect marble columns or gold-gilded staircases. Branson's penchant for Bali shines through and all the buildings are timber and thatch, decorated with hand-picked furniture specially commissioned and acquired in Bali. There are lavish volcanic boulder bathtubs, original ornamental lighting, stone Hindu sculptures, brightly coloured silks and Javanese day beds.

The three two-bedroom bures and a four-bedroom guesthouse are stylishly decorated and appointed with unique Balinese trinkets, four-poster beds and copies of the Kama Sutra on bedside tables.

Is there much to do besides chill out? Makepeace Island is a top spot in which to party like a billionaire. The set-up is perfect for entertaining, with an airy wantilan that has a well-stocked bar, games room, home theatre and breezy lounge areas decorated with Balinese pieces. Snap your fingers and the attentive staff are there with champagne, canapes or whatever you fancy.

There's a tennis court and a 15-person spa, but the centrepiece is a lagoon pool that comes with a lap lane fitted with a row of landing lights that resembles an airport runway. You can groove to music with a cocktail in hand aboard the 'aircraft carrier' - a former ferry converted into a party barge - and cruise the river at sunset. There's even a fire pit for the few colder Queensland evenings.

I'd go if there were more to do There are plenty of water activities, such as waterskiing and fishing. There are also Hobie cats and canoes. If you're keen to explore further, there's a list of day tours to choose from, including a 50-minute helicopter flight to Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef and a 4WD adventure on Fraser Island, which can be arranged by the staff.

One of Makepeace Island's best selling points is that it's secluded but not cut off from city comforts. The upmarket restaurants, cafes and boutiques of Noosa's Hastings Street are a mere boat ride away.

What about the food? The island's chef, Nick Jones, is superb, and unfazed at whipping up gourmet banquets. He is imaginative and will cook you a different meal each time. You won't go hungry.

What's the bottom line? Rent for the entire island ranges from A$7,900 (HK$63,500) for up to eight people to A$16,890 for 22 people per night in the high season. The price includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, non-alcoholic drinks, transfers, non-motorised activities (kayaks and Hobie cats), waterskiing and fishing.

Makepeace Island is on the Noosa River, Queensland, Australia, tel: +618 8351 7185;