By NICKY CHAMP, deputy editor of iVillage Australia.

Imagine a tropical holiday destination where you can be checked into your room and sipping on a welcome cocktail seven minutes after stepping off the plane. No dealing with hectic baggage carousels, no waiting in long queues for taxis or hire cars, no peak hour traffic.

Sounds impossible right? Well, it exists and it’s right here in our collective backyard.

It’s only two hours from Sydney (direct flight) and 90 minutes from Brisbane. It’s… um… ah… maybe I’ll just keep this one to myself. Oh alright then, it’s Hamilton Island. And if you haven’t been yet, you Really. Must. Go.

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Pic by designer, Marc Freeman (camillaandmarc)

Recently I had the opportunity to tag along to the ‘Ultimate InstaMeet’ (a social media campaign organised through photography app, Instagram designed to showcase Hamilton Island to a domestic and international audience) along with celebrity ambassadors, photographers and four young ‘Pilgramers’ from America.

And here’s where I have a confession to make; I didn’t really read the briefing documents for the event properly until the day before I was due to fly out. I had essentially glossed over the fact I was going on a tropical island holiday with a bunch of celebrities and fashion people. And a model.

The high profile list of ambassadors included Masterchef contestant, writer and foodie Hayden Quinn, Brownlow medallist and Geelong Cats’ footballer Jimmy Bartel, The Voice contestant and singer Sarah De Bono, fashion designers Camilla and Marc Freeman, Vogue’s senior fashion editor Christine Centenera, fashion designer Josh Goot, stylist Romy Frydman and model Annabella Barber.

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Masterchef foodie Hayden Quinn (hayden_quinn)

Hence why I found myself at the shops on the Thursday night before, panic-buying a pair of printed pants and two dresses. I carried the what-to-pack anxiety with me to the airport, where I  snapped up a pair of designer sunnies at the terminal (the whole transaction lasted about three minutes, it’s a talent I tell you).

Armed with my new purchases I felt a little more confident about the trip, that was until I saw the fashion ambassadors at the airport gate wearing head-to-toe black, six-inch heels and I even spotted a Chanel boucle jacket. Looking down at my Witchery printed pants and Country Road metallic sandals I wondered if I had totally misread the dress code, we were going to a tropical island, weren’t we?

I really needn’t have worried, during the next three days the fashion crowd kept mostly to themselves and it is really hard to be stressed out in a place where the main mode of transport is a golf buggy.

Thankfully golfing wasn’t on the itinerary (not my forte) but there was plenty of wining and dining to be had. We kicked off the weekend with lunch at the award-winning luxury resort Qualia and I can still taste the creamy oysters and citrusy kingfish ceviche from the delicious seafood platter.

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Pic of Sarah de Bono getting off the boat at Whitehaven beach by Hayden Quinn (hayden_quinn)

After lunch we were left to explore the island before dinner at the Yacht Club and I took full advantage of the infinity pool at the Beach Club resort where I called home for the next two nights. It was there I got chatting to a lovely couple who were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary; they had married and honeymooned on Hamilton Island a decade before and since then, three children had entered their now hectic lives. It was only an hour into their week long break but you could see they had already visibly unwound (that or it could’ve been the rum in their cocktails). And that’s the thing about ‘Hamo’ (as the locals call it), it’s one of the most relaxing places I have ever been to. And as I spent much time pinching myself (and wondering why no one had told me about this place before), I was already planning my return.

Day two began with an early 4am start as we hiked up Passage Peak (who says I wasn’t working hard?) to watch the sunrise over an incredible view of the Whitsunday islands. The rest of the afternoon was spent snorkelling and swimming at Chalkies and Whitehaven beach which as the itinerary promised was “one of the most beautiful beaches in the world,” and we weren’t disappointed. Trying to nail a fitting adjective for the colour of the water, was it azure? turquoise? We simply settled for paradise. Paradise with a capital P.

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The sunset at One Tree Hill

As all good journeys must come to an end, it was fitting my concluded with a chat to an elderly gentleman  (actually a Dung Beetle entomologist – not everyday you meet one of those) on the plane ride home whose eyes lit up when we got talking about the island. It turns out that the week he’d spent there with his daughter and son-in-law sailing around the Whitsundays was “still the best week of my life”. As my weekend away to ‘Hamo’ came to a close, I decided it wasn’t the best weekend I’d ever had but I think on my return with my family in tow, it could very well be.

Click through the gallery for more amazing Hamilton Island pics.

Hamilton Island from above shot by designer, Marc Freeman (camillaandmarc)

Nicky Champ stayed as a guest of Hamilton Island



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