As an island situated directly on the Great Barrier Reef, Lizard Island, a member of Luxury Lodges of Australia, is already an ideal place to stay to explore this iconic site: to snorkel the reef, you just have to step off one of the island’s 24 white sand beaches; to dive, it’s a short ride in one of the resort’s boats. As the northernmost resort on the reef, an hour north of Cairns by air, it’s also the most secluded so the waters are pristine and other tourists nonexistent. The 40 rooms and villas which have gone through two renovations in recent years were already sufficient to provide a cossetting stay. But with the opening on July 1st of The House and The Cottage, a separate villa for older children or staff, the resort, and the region overall, now have a spacious, palatial lodge with maximum privacy and personalized service.
The two houses together comprise The Estate, located on the private headland of the island, but despite the aristocratic name, they’re more relaxed, more barefoot luxury in the Australian manner. The design of the three story, three bedroom House, intended to leave a light footprint on the World Heritage site island, went through 25 years of approval processes. In order to appear to recede into the landscape, Queensland architect Dr. James Davidson constructed the outer shell of concrete and copper which would blend into the surrounding rock formations as it weathered.
The interiors, created by design consultant Sophie Hart, were enhanced by the use of local timber and stone and an array of elements from mostly Australian artists and artisans. Female indigenous artists created the art on display; specific crafts commissioned for The House include models of sea drifter boats created by Alison Coates, vessels and platters by Anna Markey and a Tegan Murdock woven bowl. Other design pieces created in Australia include Armadillo & Co rugs, Bemboka bedding, Paul Morris brass tables and lamps, a custom-made rug by Tibet Sydney, inspired by the reef off one of the three private beaches on the Estate, and Mud Australia and Dinosaur Designs serving pieces. Other out of Australia design elements include Edra loungers, B&B Italia tables and chairs, Patricia Urquiola armchairs in each bedroom and an impressive emerald quartzite benchtop.
Guests staying at The House are provided with an extra level of service and facilities: a private host to curate itineraries and satisfy requests; a private chef and sommelier to create premium meals, often utilizing the sublime seafood from local waters; a naturalist with whom to explore the 2503 acre island, a National Park filled with distinctive flora, fauna and sacred sites; a twin 140 hp Seaswift RIB for exploring other islands and beaches. Priority access is also provided to charter the resort’s 56 foot Riviera Motor Yacht for longer seagoing adventures or fishing for the region’s prized Black Marlin. Private yoga or meditation sessions can also be arranged on The House’s yoga deck and holistic spa services conducted within. But this island is so serene that all a guest would need to totally zone out is to stretch out on one of the private beaches and listen to the waves.