‘Close to paradise’

Sandra Killen - July 08, 2006

'LET'S go to the beach," I say to my teenage sons.
"We'd rather swim in the pool," they reply.
"Want to check out the restaurants?" I suggest.
"Can you bring us something back?"
"What about the Rainforest Habitat? I've heard it's really good."
"You go. We don't want to go anywhere."

Sigh. It was hard to argue with them. We were staying in Villa Empat Puluh Dua, the most fabulous house yet to be built in Port Douglas (www.villaportdouglas.com.au). Even my husband and I had to drag ourselves out into the popular resort town in far north Queensland.

At about $1500 per night you not only need to make the most of your stay, you really, really want to.

It is sheer unmitigated bliss just lazing around in this Balinese-style sanctuary. It has everything: there's an inclinator to save you lugging your gear (or yourselves) up three flights of stairs; an infinity-edge pool in the treetops; a huge marine fish tank; a free bottle of Moet & Chandon Champagne on arrival; complimentary continental breakfasts; a well-stocked mini bar that includes Verse1 chardonnay ($38 a bottle) and artichoke paste ($17.50). There is a fine collection of DVDs, CDs and books.

There are soft brown leather couches, Bang & Olufsen television sets, an ensuite bathroom to delight those who love the sense of showering outdoors; comfortable beds, lovely white cotton slippers and dressing gown, French toiletries . . .

All this, plus a view that's impossible to take your eyes off.

Am I making myself clear? This is no ordinary getaway. It is totally private and you get it all to yourself. You just have to take a minimum of three of the seven bedrooms for three nights. The villa's manager Tracy Dare greets guests on arrival and goes through the ropes: you can have everything (chef, masseuse – one group booked a butler from 6am-11pm at $45 an hour). She will organise it all. Or you can have nothing but yourselves for company. Your call.

Owner Joseph Mahon, a Melbourne investor who built the house four years ago, has tapped into a market I didn't know existed.

Obviously Joseph did. At $4500 for three rooms or $10,425 for seven rooms (peak season) for a minimum three-night stay, the house is fully booked for the next four months.

A team of housekeepers and outdoor maintenance crew is employed to keep everything just right.

Those who stay there, Tracy says, include groups of friends, families, couples and businesspeople. It has also seen a wedding and a christening. Many guests return for another hedonistic stay but, for us, it was a dream finale to a 10-day holiday in the north.

Courtesy of the Courier Mail.