Brad Stevens : Austin, TX

AUSTRALIA - HAYMAN ISLAND, GREAT BARRIER REEF
... An experience at one of the leading resorts in the world

If your planning a trip to Australia, a visit to the Great Barrier Reef is a must for your travel plans. And if you are sufficiently flush, I highly recommend a visit to Hayman Island, one of the leading resorts of the world.

My friend and I traveled from Detroit to Los Angles and then nonstop to Sydney. Of course, for a 20 hour flight such as this, we avoided the cattle car and elected to fly first class. After a particularly fabulous meal of Trois Petites Crevettes, followed by Rio Bravo Quail Soup and Chateaubriand with sautéed mushrooms along with a few glasses of Pinot Noir, I felt the need to stretch my legs.

I ventured off to walk the length of the 747. As I walked past Business Class and through the curtains into the cattle car, I was stunned by the haggard looks that 16 hours of cramped conditions offered back from its sea of occupants. At that moment, I was glad to have made the decision to leave my ice cream sundae dessert behind. From the glares I received as I ventured through the curtain and into the assemblage of poignant smell, I was pegged as an outsider. Carrying an ice cream sundae would have slammed a nail in that coffin for sure.

Trust me, DO NOT fly coach class to Australia, or for that matter, do not fly coach class to anywhere in Asia from the States.

We spent a few days in Sydney and hung our hats in the Presidential Suite at the Ritz Carlton. It was a wonderful place. Every morning, I took joy in the delivery of my breakfast by an absolutely gorgeous Australian boy. Trey deluxe for sure ... and, fun too <smile>.

After a few days, we boarded Ansett Airlines (a national airline of Australia which I think has since gone bankrupt) and flew to Hamilton Island. Hamilton Island is on the Great Barrier Reef and is a common launching point to your final destination. For us, that destination was the exclusive island of Hayman.

Prior to our leaving Sydney, we had been in contact with the resort on Hayman Island to notify them of our arrival information. So, after we debarked the airplane from Sydney, resort staff was there to greet us and escort us to their 110 foot yacht for the couple hour voyage over to Hayman Island. The only way to arrive on Hayman Island is via the water. The resort does not allow air traffic to the island because "the sounds of aircraft may disturb our guest's relaxation". Ah yes, I like that mindset!

And, what a voyage it was. The yacht was sleek and was very well appointed. There were a few other resort guests on the yacht as well, but not many. The most beautiful woman that had ever graced my eyes served us champagne as we registered for our stay and had a personal tour of the bridge by the captain. The voyage traversed us between multiple islands that dotted the area. It was a stunningly clear sunny day.

We were looking forward to our stay at the resort. We had heard stories about the resort and the anticipation of the experience was half the fun of the voyage. We were taking particular delight in the fact that the only thing on this tropical island was the resort. The resort owned the entire island. In fact, day trippers (people who travel to destinations for only sightseeing) were not allowed on the island at all. In order to gain access to the island, you must be a guest of the resort itself. After a few days of being among throngs of tourists, it was sure to offer a pleasant escape. [NEXT - TO PAGE 2]

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Austin, Texas