Dance party: The Vava II, pleasure craft of billionaire couple Kirsty and Ernesto Bertarelli.
Visiting Swiss billionaires Kirsty and Ernesto Bertarelli could certainly teach our own silvertails a thing or two about hospitality.
For the past week the glamorous couple, worth about $16 billion, along with their giant 96-metre-long, $150 million superyacht Vava II, have been bobbing about just off Hamilton Island for the annual race week sailing festivities.
An invitation to go on board the six-deck pleasure craft quickly became one of the most coveted tickets on the island.
Billionaire couple Kirsty and Ernesto Bertarelli.
On Friday night, your columnist - along with a gaggle of Sydney identities which included socialite Terry Biviano, model twins Zac and Jordan Stenmark, Sunrise executive producer Michael Pell, magazine maven Alison Veness-McGourty and Hamilton Island heiress Nicky Tindill - were welcomed aboard Vava II for what was billed by Kirsty as a ''small drinks party''. Abut midnight Vava II's tenders were dispatched to Hamilton Island to collect us from the wharf, whizzing us across the calm, moonlit waters to what appeared to be a floating hotel, spectacularly lit and seemingly glowing in the Coral Sea.
''Welcome aboard!'' the crew enthused, telling us to ''please make your way to level one, where the cocktail bar is to your left … have fun''. ''Cocktail bar'' hardly did it justice, with the huge deck surrounding a swimming pool, which at the flick of a button drains its contents and elevates to become a dance floor. Vava II soon became the chicest nightclub afloat as cocktail shakers swung into action and the dancing began.
Ernesto, a handsome Italian-born pharmaceuticals baron, was soon on the DJ decks spinning some of his favourite tracks, including several sung by his wife, a former beauty queen and singer/songwriter who penned the All Saints hit Black Coffee in 2000 and has plans for a new album.
"I'm very happy": Asher Keddie. Photo: John Tsiavis
Small tour groups were soon being escorted around the ship, which, apart from its own helipad and chopper, also features a casino and various bars dotted around its multiple decks, classroom facilities for the Bertarellis' children to keep up their studies, a state-of-the-art medical centre and that all-important necessity on the high seas, a hair salon and beauty spa.
It was all very James Bond.
Things wound up in the wee hours and we were whisked back to he island, leaving our hosts waving us off into the night.
Eat your heart out, James and Lachlan.
Patrick might have passed on, but holidaying Asher is all smiles
The nation went into mourning when actor Asher Keddie's Offspring character Nina suffered a great loss - her boyfriend and the father of her unborn child, Patrick, died after being struck by a car.
However, we can report the actor is happy and well, despite the incredible outpouring over her character's trials and tribulations.
''I'm smiling, I'm very happy,'' Keddie said on Friday from Hamilton Island, where she and her artist partner in real life, Archibald People's Choice winner Vincent Fantauzzo, were enjoying some downtime.
It was the first public outing for Keddie since the controversial episode aired. She has been overwhelmed by the reaction.
''The reaction was extraordinary … truly remarkable,'' she said. ''It just made me realise the power of television is not to be underestimated.
''It was so nice that our audience invested in that couple … you know it was a big journey for them and it was an amazing thing to shoot.''
She said the emotional scenes had had a strong effect on her.
''You are there living and breathing it, it is not an easy thing to shoot, but it is challenging in a good way,'' she said.
''I'm really glad that we, the writers and all the creative team on the show, were brave enough to explore mortality … and now single parenthood. I'm really proud that the show has had that sort of progression.''
As for her alter ego, Nina the obstetrician: ''I love her, but I have to admit she makes me a little mad at times''.
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A royal romance rekindled
Just when things were looking good for the royal family comes news one of its most controversial figures could be returning to the fold. The London Telegraph reports the Duchess of York is said to have rekindled her romance with her former husband, the Duke of York. The paper reported that ''friends'' claim the couple, pictured, are so close they will eventually formalise their reunion. "Mark my words, they will remarry," said one friend. The couple have remained close since they divorced in 1996 and both live at Royal Lodge, the former country home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, in Berkshire. They joined Princess Beatrice, 25, and her sister, Princess Eugenie, 23, for the weekend at Balmoral, the Queen's Scottish retreat, earlier this month, representing a thawing of relations since 1992 when a newspaper published photographs of Fergie having her toes sucked by John Bryan, her "financial adviser". In 2009, Prince Andrew, also 53, said he did not rule out remarrying the duchess. In 1999, the duchess told an interviewer: "There was no reason for Andrew and I to get divorced; there wasn't another person in our lives to go to. We got divorced because I had to go out to work, and Andrew and I believed that it wasn't right for me to be commercial while I was still in the royal family.''
A collection of arty identities
Australia's newest international art fair, Sydney Contemporary at Carriageworks from September 20 to 22, has already attracted some high-profile galleries, including London's The Paragon Press, Hong Kong's de Sarthe and Edouard Maligne and New York's Sundaram Tagore. Among the major artists showing are Rosemary Laing, whose large-scale photos are described as cinematic in scale and narrative, Jasper Knight, who is expected to produce a large diptych in his signature mixed media of enamel, Masonite and Perspex, as well as Anish Kapoor and Damien Hirst. Advisory council members include Rachel Griffiths, Sue Cato, Nick Tobias, Lucy Turnbull, Mark Hughes, John Kaldor, Dick Quan and Evan Williams. ''Ambassadors'' have also been enlisted, including former cricketer Glenn McGrath, who runs the Chippendale gallery McLemoi, fashion designer Bianca Spender, barrister Gabrielle Bashir, arts patron Leo Christie, designer Sylvia Weimer and art dealer Amanda Love.