Resort's reputation gets sickening rap

It promises "a welcome attention to detail", "a world standard for service and hospitality" and "indulgent dining", but some visitors to ultra-expensive Queensland resort Hayman Island in the past six months have found their experience somewhat less than five-star.

It promises "a welcome attention to detail", "a world standard for service and hospitality" and "indulgent dining", but some visitors to ultra-expensive Queensland resort Hayman Island in the past six months have found their experience somewhat less than five-star.

CBD hears a spate of food poisoning has hit the Whitsundays resort, with local council food inspectors called in to make sure there was no repeat performance.

There are also complaints about shoddy maintenance, poor service and - horror of horrors - undersized flower arrangements.

The cheapest room at Hayman costs $590 a night in the off-season, with prices climbing to $8000 a night for the owner's penthouse, which comes with 24-hour butler service.

With access to the island limited to yacht ferry or private aircraft, Hayman has a storied history as a getaway for the rich and famous.

VIPs to have graced the resort include wrinkly rocker Rod Stewart, minor Minogue Dannii and Oprah's fave slab-o-beef, Jamie Durie.

It's also a popular location for corporate conferences, in one famous case playing host to the 1995 love-in between Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair as the British Labour leader drummed up support for his run at the prime ministership.

But one recent visitor told CBD the gloss had well and truly gone off - as had the tiger prawns that top the $27 "gamberi" pizza. CBD is told four people who chowed down at Hayman's Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, in October, came down with food poisoning and brought the prawns, base and "pepperoncini, cherry tomato, cipolini and basil" topping back up the next day. Chicken served at the resort's barbecue was also allegedly undercooked.

Whitsunday Regional Council spokeswoman Lisa Maher declined to comment, saying she was gagged by Queensland privacy laws.

However, emails from environmental health officer Kate Barraclough obtained by CBD show that council inspectors swooped on Hayman on November 8.

"During the inspection food practices undertaken by food handlers were discussed," Barraclough said.

"Council's environmental health officer made recommendations in relation to any non-compliances and are working with Hayman Island staff to ensure that the risk of similar incidents occurring is minimalised, including training of staff."

CBD's luxury accommodation correspondent also said staff were undertrained, with sloppy service at restaurants, badly made beds and the reception phone ringing out. Our spy said the "dead give-away" was the flower arrangement in the lobby: "The table designed to feature the $500 wow bowl of flowers has a tiny vase of $15 orchids."

Hayman is owned by Malaysian-listed Mulpha International, which also owns Sanctuary Cove and the Sydney InterContinental. Mulpha's Australian HQ had yet to comment by press time.

Avoiding a crash

IT'S been some time since elusive bogannaire Nathan Tinkler (pictured) was sighted in Australia - these days the under-pressure coal baronet prefers sultry Singapore to his native Newcastle. But those seeking Tinkler (and there are a few) stand to be disappointed if they pop along to Bathurst's Mount Panorama Circuit this weekend, where millions of dollars worth of supercars will be duking it out in the Bathurst 12-Hour.

The entry list includes one Nathan Tinkler, driving a Hunter Sports Group-sponsored Porsche 997 GT3, but spokesman Tim Allerton says his client has cancelled.

He's was down to share duties in the endurance race with Steven Johnson, son of touring car champion Dick Johnson.

The elder Johnson's V8 Supercars team, Dick Johnson Racing, is reportedly in financial strife - something Tinkler knows all about - after losing a key sponsor, with reports it might not make the first round of the championship in Adelaide later this month.

While Tinkler won't be there, a fellow Singaporean will be - private equity mogul Mok Weng Sun, a partner at Affinity Equity Partners.

AEP used to own retail catastrophe Colorado, but Mok steered clear of that car crash by quitting the board just before the clothing group went into administration last March.

While Tinkler's Porsche qualifies him for Class B, Mok's significantly more powerful (and expensive) Ferrari 458 will see him go around with the big boys in Class A.

It's a class that includes Darrell Lea purchaser Tony Quinn, Dean Koutsoumidis, the boss of mortgage fund Equity-One, while king of Donut King Tony Alford is down in Class C.

Hackers hacked

UNCLE Rupert Murdoch popped up on Wednesday to claim that News Corporation was the ongoing victim of Chinese hacking. "Chinese still hacking us, or were over the weekend," the Sun King tweeted. CBD is sure he is right.

As Twitter users were quick to point out, News Corporation knows a thing or two about hacking (although of phones rather than computers).

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