Where is it? Opened in May, the resort is in Port Douglas, north Queensland, between the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree National Park. What's so different about it? The layout of Peppers Bale is unique in Australia. Guests stay in one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom villas (right), known as sanctuaries, that come in five design styles. Luxurious or basic? Very luxurious. Courtyard sanctuaries are more than 500 square metres and are appointed with high-quality contemporary furnishings, funky white pottery and state-of-the-art audiovisual systems. They have fully equipped kitchens and laundries. What about the design? The timber double doors that lead into each sanctuary open onto courtyards boasting eye-catching water courses filled with goldfish and water lilies. The main indoor areas - master bedroom, kitchen, living room and en-suite bathroom - have floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto the courtyard. Whether you are eating, resting, showering or lying on the bed, this central haven is always in view. What about the bedrooms? The master bedroom has a king-sized bed. The en-suite bathrooms have spa baths, large indoor showers and glass doors leading to unheated outdoor showers. What about the ambience? Balinese music is played throughout the sanctuary, mingling with the sweet aroma of frangipani. Some of the courtyards have verdant forest backdrops. Who goes there? Opened in May, the resort claims Tom Hanks as a guest (Hanks is producing a television mini-series, The Pacific, which is being filmed inPort Douglas). What about the spa? Grounds Kent Architects, the creators of the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Maldives Spa and the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, in Bali, designed the spa as a relaxing refuge with lush gardens and soothing water features. Like the rest of the complex, the spa menu is noticeably Asian and peppered with mysterious treatments such as Dreaming of Java and Oriental Sunrise. There are separate men's and women's bathing areas with hot and cold plunge pools as well as saunas. What's on the menu? Sassi's restaurant is in the main building (above right) overlooking the resort's central swimming pool. As Melbourne chef Tony Sassi is something of a local celebrity, the restaurant is popular with Port Douglas locals. The menu creatively adapts Italian home cooking into a more stylised gastronomic experience using fresh seafood and regional produce. Standout dishes include ostriche sassi (freshly shucked oysters served in delicate Chinese porcelain spoons with a lightly spiced sauce topped with chives and salmon caviar) and piatto del pescatore (a feast of Port Douglas' best seafood). What's the bottom line? Nightly rates for sanctuaries are A$900 (HK$6,140) for one bedroom, A$1,200 for two bedrooms, A$1,500 for three bedrooms and A$1,800 for four bedrooms. Prices include private self-contained accommodation with poolside pavilion and plunge pool, breakfast, porterage, daily spa treatments for adults, children's VIP treatment and daily full-room servicing. Peppers Bale, 1 Bale Drive, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, tel: 61 7 4084 3000; www.peppers.com.au .