Christine Retschlag discovers the Whitsundays are back in business after a devastating cyclone.
It was the cyclone that turned Daydream into a nightmare, hammered Hayman, pounded the pontoon out at Reefworld and caused billions of dollars' worth of destruction to Airlie Beach and surrounds.
But the Whitsundays is back, and its luxury, like the Great Barrier Reef itself, is larger than life.
The cockatoos, the kangaroos and the curlews are all back. And the stingrays, well, they never left, seeking shelter underwater when Cyclone Debbie pummelled the Whitsundays two and half years ago.
The only thing that's changed is that the refurbished resorts are more riveting than ever, oh, and the stingrays have a new "you-beaut" pool.
I am on the newly reopened Daydream Island, taking in a yoga class while Luanne, a pink whip ray, eyeballs me through the glass of her underwater observatory. The previous day I'd snorkelled with Luanne, stroking her velvety soft exterior while she hovered and hoovered over my hand to vacuum up the fish I was feeding her.
The only thing that sucks about this stingray is the way she eats, like an old man with no teeth, but just as you think she might gobble one of your fingers, the food is all gone.
In my ideal world, Luanne recognises me, but I suspect she is more Dory than Nemo - who also inhabits this pool - when it comes to memory.
There's no downward-facing dog in Daydream Island's Underwater Observatory yoga class, rather, you stretch with the stingrays as they glide through their new 200m Living Reef, along with more than 100 species of marine life.
Yes, if your idea of luxury is getting up close and personal with the creatures of the Great Barrier Reef, the Whitsundays is your destination divine.
Days later I will arrive at the new Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort to board a speedboat and take a seven-minute ride across the ocean to Bali Hai island where I'll share the sea with the turtles who surface for air. Even the whales don't know the road rules here, with four migrating humpbacks blocking the path of Hayman's luxury launch, forcing us to curtail our canapes and champagne and watch in wonderment.
First world-problems or Whitsunday woes? You be the judge.
At Hamilton Island's Qualia, which sounds a little like koala, keep your eyes peeled, as you just might spot a marsupial in a gum tree or at the very least a wallaby on the lawn in front of the spa.
Spa etiquette? Turn up early and wait for the wallabies.
Out at the new Reefworld pontoon they've upped the ante on animal encounters too. Not only can you sleep in a swag under the stars in the renewed Reefsleep experience, but there's now exclusive underwater Reefsuite accommodation. Book a premium king or twin single accommodation and witness the reef and its inhabitants from your bed. Even the ensuites in Australia's first underwater accommodation are made of glass for an optimal experience. Ever showered with a shark? Now's your chance.
Snorkel and swim with harmless reef sharks and other marine inhabitants over at the new luxury Elysian, the first 100 per cent solar-powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef.
Don't want to get your feet wet here? Take a bushwalk around this property, which sits on lovely Long Island.
It's a similar tale back on the mainland at Peppers Airlie Beach where the pool has been retiled and its trademark turtles and signature stingrays are back on the walls.
These days the Whitsundays calls itself "the heart of the Great Barrier Reef" and it's easy to see why.
Just ask the stingrays - they never left.
The easiest way to travel to the Whitsundays from New Zealand is to catch an international flight to Brisbane or Sydney. There are regular domestic connections to Proserpine Airport with Jetstar Airways, Tiger Australia and Virgin Australia or Hamilton Island Airport with Virgin Australia and Qantas.