Read our writer's views on this property below
Sheriden Rhodes swaps chenille for champagne at a new holiday home on Hamilton Island.
As a child, I remember when family friends invited us to their beach house for the weekend; I got the top bunk, a well-worn towel and a thin chenille bedspread. This time I have been invited to another beach house, on Hamilton Island, and I know things are going to be a whole lot better.
I'm collected from Hamilton Island's airport in Queensland's Whitsunday Islands in one of the resort's golf buggies, reminiscent of the Fantasy Island television series, and taken to Ala Moana, a property developed for Melbourne businessman Martin Wagg and available for private rental.
As I stand in the entry, a discreet host whisks my suitcase upstairs and I take a moment to take it all in. From where I'm standing, there's a water feature that runs down the spine of the house into a bubbling spa and infinity pool. Grey marble is used throughout the house and there is a seamless look between indoor and outdoor spaces. And beyond is nothing but the azure of the ocean.
The house was several years in the making. Understandably, the local council is strict about the type of development it allows and Ala Moana's distinct curved roof is far removed from the straight lines seen on other buildings.
"The organic roof line is probably more sympathetic to the landscape than many of the island's other buildings," claims interior designer Chris Elliott.
Elliott's initial brief was to design Ala Moana as a holiday house for the Waggs and their extended family but with the potential to lease. And now Ala Moana, which is Hawaiian for "ocean pathways", is available for $5500 a night (minimum five-night stay).
Apart from its knockout location looking east over the Whitsundays, there's a lot more to Ala Moana to justify the price tag. There's an open-plan kitchen and adjoining dining area that seats 12, a separate living area with Aboriginal artwork, an oversize lounge and groovy armchairs. Upstairs there's a television room with plasma screen, custom-made rugs and chic Dedon outdoor furniture.
There are also five luxurious guest rooms. They're all lovely and generous in size but by some stroke of luck I'm shown to the master bedroom, on its own level with king-size bed, huge bathroom, private bar, lounge area and a wraparound deck. Flick the remote control and automated blinds reveal, 360-degree water views.
The four lower-level bedrooms, with ocean or tropical garden views, each have their own open-plan ensuite, king-size beds, cowhide rugs and tropical flower arrangements.
Probably the best thing about Ala Moana is it's all yours. You can wander down for breakfast in your pyjamas or host a dinner party with your own chef (at an additional cost). And you get the use of Ala Moana's 12.8-metre cruiser and skipper for a day of exploring the islands, visiting Whitehaven Beach, having a picnic in a secluded inlet, some game fishing or snorkelling.
But my favourite moment is sitting alone on my private balcony, glass of champagne in hand, watching a lone catamaran on the sparkling turquoise sea. It's an enormous leap from the fibro beach shacks of my childhood. At $27,500 for five nights, you'd hope so.
Sheriden Rhodes travelled courtesy of Ala Moana.
Jetstar flies non-stop from Sydney for $179 and non-stop from Melbourne for $159. Virgin Blue flies from Melbourne with a change of aircraft in Brisbane for $199 and non-stop from Sydney for $169. All fares are one way and include tax. Ala Moana costs $5500 a night (house only) or $6250 a night including host and meals. Minimum five-night booking. Package includes airport transfers, golf buggy access, daily housekeeping and one day on the Ala Moana cruiser with skipper. Phone (03) 9387 9712, see alamoana.com.au.