Welcome to the world of upscale, lavish and pricey island resort life.
But boy, once you’ve had a taste it’s hard to go to the back of the resort bus.
Over the last few weeks a couple of glamorous work invitations have used extraordinary island backdrops for their unveilings. I got very scared that I could get used to the chic island life, but my bank balance? Not so much.
Hayman Island is a ‘veteran’ in the resort stakes and if rumours are true, it’s been snapped up by South African billionaire hotelier Sol Kerzner, who has one of the world’s most up-market hotel resort chains, One&Only, as well as Dubai’s Atlantis The Palm Resort.
Hayman was recently the choice of the folk at ModelCo who invited guests to meet its latest ‘face’, Rose Huntington Whiteley.
About an hour away by boat, Hamilton Island’s chic boutique resort, Qualia – no kids allowed – played home to guests of the annual Audi Race week extravaganza and Collette Dinnigans’ resort fashion show.
Both resorts are pricey but picturesque perfect and both cater for every whim. But then, that’s why you pay big bucks.
To stay here you don’t need to ask the price of a glass of champagne. Or a massage. Or a reef trip. Or an island escapade. You just do it. No questions asked.
In fact, you’re normally flush enough that you don’t even look at the bill.
So while you’re putting Hayman and Qualia on your ever-expanding bucket list, here’s the lowdown.
And don’t forget, resorts like these are always offering deals so keep your vacation antennae on high alert.
Perfect place for: couples or singles who want the beach at their toes and the dining/activity facilities of a resort there for the taking.
On the beachfront of the most northern island in the Whitsunday Passage, these eight villas shine like a beacon in front of the longstanding Hayman hotel and penthouses.
Each beach villa – and yes, your toes are right on the beach – has been designed by Amanresorts and villas architect, Kerry Hill, whose focus is to create buildings that don’t overtake the view but take advantage of it.
As soon as you arrive on Hayman (after a sparkling wine and canape-fuelled, hour-long boat ride on the Sun Goddess from Hamilton Island) the staff direct you onto a buggy and take you to your beach-front villa to meet your butler.
Every villa has loooots of space, lots of natural light and a view (from the bed, bathroom and your own indoor pool) of the Coral Sea and Whitsundays.
The Beach Butler is available whenever you want to book any kind of activity or to suggest where to go and what to eat for dinner, while the private pool in an open air gallery had a day bed, private terrace, outdoor shower, oversized bathroom with an BIG island bath. The technology is A-grade too at this 120sq m of resort heaven.
Rates: Yearly rack rate tariffs start at $2900 per night for a beach villa and go up around the ‘festive’ time to $3100. Like all good resorts, you may be better off doing a package. Or if money is seriously no object (cough, cough) you may choose the Diane von Furstenberg penthouse for a cool $5000 a night or the ‘owners penthouse’ for, umm, $8000 per night. Check out hayman.com.au
Perfect place for: Seriously loved-up couples (or singles) who want total privacy calm and quiet discretion in their resort break.
Qualia (pronounced kwah-lee-ah) means a ‘collection of deeper sensory experiences’. For the rest of us it means a damn good holiday!
Owner Bob Oatley wanted to create a luxury resort on his beloved Hamilton Island, and what a job he has done. The Oatley Wines winemaker and line-honours-winning sailing enthusiast has fused killer views, nature and style into a resort that constantly tops global best resort lists.
From the choice of architecture with a backdrop of timbers, sandstone and glass, Australian Eucalypts and the Coral Sea are all you can see as you look out from totally private pavilions.
Subtly elegant and instinctively Australian, the resort’s 60 individually designed pavilions flow through to private sun decks and infinity plunge pools that overlook the sea.
Architect Chris Beckingham has made sure every room has a sea vista, while each pavilion has its own buggy that tootles you around the resort and to the surrounds of Hamilton Island. That is, of course, if you can even be bothered moving from the palatial surrounds of your holiday space.
There’s smart and chic dining either in your pavilion or at the resort’s Long Pavilion and ‘dreamtime’ treatments at Spa while the service is comfortably friendly and not too overly reverent, which is exactly what makes the whole resort gel together.
I couldn’t fault Qualia. At all.
They even bought breakfast down to the main pool when I just couldn’t be bothered getting off my butt after an early morning kayak off Pebble Beach and in the Coral Sea.
Yep, it’s worth every pretty penny you’ve ever saved.
Rates: You can house yourself in a pavilion for $1000 a night and the scale goes up and up and up until you reach the super special Beach House pavilion that will set you back around a cool $5000 a night. Visit qualia.com.au