I know my eyes should be shut, but I can't help peeking. Flat on my back as I relax into my yoga pose, I stare straight up at the dusk heavens, where the evening star has just flared into existence. As I watch, more stars wink into being. It isn't until I lift myself into an upright posture that I glance at Petri, my instructor for this one-on-one session. She too is looking up at the sky, transfixed.
This twilight yoga session – or "astro yoga", as I like to think of it (trademark pending) – is a first for me. It's a first for Petri, too, who shifted the class back an hour to fit in with my schedule. As we go through a series of yin poses, the sky above us gradually deepening into a dark blanket ablaze with stars, we both agree this is a spectacular way to end the day.
I might even say it was the highlight of my day, but there is competition for the title. There was the five-hour top-to-toe spa session with Laura, an Ayurvedic therapist who is as adept at a hot stone massage as she is at delivering facials that leave your skin glowing.
Then there was dinner. Chef Josh – who not only makes my coffee just the way I like it but has also quickly noted that I'm partial to double helpings of dessert – doesn't let the fact he is working on a remote island cramp his style. His three-course dinners feature show-stopping dishes such as kingfish tataki served with bush tomato seasoning, brittle purple yam and trout caviar, which comes in a startling shade of blue.
Welcome to the Whitsundays's newest resort. The recently-launched, 10-room Elysian Retreat is a tiny player when compared with Goliaths such as Hayman Island and Daydream Island, which are both fresh from multimillion-dollar refurbishments, and that is precisely its strength. Rather than trying to compete with resorts that offer five different restaurants or three different pools, Elysian focuses on one-on-one service and a commitment to helping guests recover from the stresses of everyday life.
"I have long wanted to create a place where people come and rejuvenate, a place of healing where you can connect to nature and restore your equilibrium," says Laureth Rumble, who founded the resort with her husband, Wayne. Laureth is responsible for the resort's sophisticated beachcomber chic, as well as its twice-daily complimentary yoga and the soon-to-be-unveiled infra-red sauna and Zen garden. The resort's eco-credentials – it is powered by its own solar farm – also reflect the Rumbles' commitment to sustainability.
While a range of activities, from island picnics to trips to Whitehaven Beach, is available on request, the idea behind Elysian is to stop and simply be. Unlike most Whitsundays resorts, Elysian targets couples rather than families, only accepting children aged 16 or above. That makes it perfect for couples who want to get away but can only spare a few days. For those who really don't want to leave the younger generation behind, the island can be booked out for groups; a great way to celebrate a milestone birthday if you have the cash to splash.
The Whitsunday Coast Airport at Proserpine is serviced by Tigerair, Jetstar and Virgin Australia. Flying time is about 2½ hours from Sydney, three from Melbourne.
Rates from $700 a person twin-share, including all meals and daily yoga lessons. Helicopter transfers from Proserpine from $330 a person one way.
Ute Junker was a guest of Elysian Retreat and Tourism Whitsundays.