Sydney - Airbnb has revealed that the winners of its Night At the Great Barrier Reef were lost at sea off the coast of Malaysia just weeks beforehand.
Marta Miguel and David Hernandez (both 30) were on a sailing boat with two friends when it capsized. They managed to turn the boat upright, but were left adrift without food, water or any form of communication for nine days before being rescued.
Marta and David love the sea and scuba diving, and entered the competition in the hope that they would be lucky a second time. Marta Miguel said “It's lovely to return to the ocean and prove to ourselves that we haven't been traumatised by our experience. We are now more excited than ever to travel the world and grateful that Airbnb gave us the opportunity to live at the Great Barrier Reef. We hope that our story inspires others to live their dreams, travel and discover new places.”
The guests were welcomed to the floating apartment by their host, Pascal Dattler, who spent his childhood living on a boat on the Reef. Once they had found their sea-legs, they plunged into the water for a snorkel tour with a marine biologist to take in the awe of the marine life and their private coral gardens.
The Reef is home to 100 species of jellyfish, 3 000 varieties of molluscs, millions of fish, 133 varieties of sharks, rays and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.
After a good night’s sleep above the spectacular underwater world, the winners were served a delicious brunch of sustainably-sourced local seafood and produce by world-renowned chef Neil Perry AM.
The couple announced during their stay that they are engaged. David first proposed to Marta on the third day that they were shipwrecked. He bought a ring before this trip and planned to propose on the Reef, but got too excited and popped the question again just before they boarded the plane. They are now planning to move to Malaysia to start their own business.
Airbnb Australian Country Manager Sam McDonagh said: “Visiting the Great Barrier Reef is on most people’s bucket list, and the chance to live there is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“We are delighted that Marta and David were able to feel a sense of belonging in the ocean again, after the ordeal they went through in Malaysia. Their story is really inspiring and we hope they continue to embrace the adventure.”
Adapted from a press release for IOL