The Whitsundays are made up of 74 islands off the coast of Queensland and right in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. The archipelago is a popular holiday destination as the gorgeous islands are dotted with beautiful secluded beaches and friendly towns. Hamilton Island is the largest of these islands and it was to be our final destination in Queensland.
On the northern most tip of the island is qualia (no mistake, there is no capital letter), the ultimate luxury resort, perfect for a romantic getaway. The word qualia means ‘a collection of deeper sensory experiences’ and we were certainly in for a world of sensory transcendence.
Qualia are the largest consumers of Veuve Cliquot in the Southern Hemisphere and after a quick 15 minute airport transfer (qualia have their own desk in Hamilton Island airport) we were in the hotel lobby with a glass in our hand. The managers at qualia definitely know how to appeal to my tastebuds!
Our sense of sight was also immediately appealed to as qualia is a beautiful hotel with perfect views of an azure blue sea. The hotel is built in light timber and stone in order to compliment the natural surroundings while fabric and prints are inspired by nature.
The Long Pavillion is where you are greeted and welcomed into qualia and it forms the central hub of the hotel including a lounge bar and formal dining area.
The Long Pavillion is also fringed by a beautiful infinity pool.
Qualia is built on a hill with the Long Pavillion at the top and Pebble Beach is down hill by the coast. Here you have can a swim in the infinity pool and also dine at the more casual restaurant. Mr Silver and I had lunch here a few times. The hot seafood platter including local reef fish, scallops, prawns, whitsunday bugs and cuttlefish is to die for. Mr Silver and I had it three times!
Qualia’s tranquil private beach is located directly below the pool terrace. Standing on the beautiful beach will again activate the senses as you smell the salty air and listen to the softly lapping waves.
We stayed in a Leeward Pavillion room which had a huge lounge / bedroom area and massive bathroom as well as sundeck with a view! We also had the occasional friend come and visit as you can see in the photo below!
Champagne’s on ice!
Our little friend
The service at qualia is fantastic and they intuitively cater for your every need! One of the signature experiences that they offer is the beach drop off. Mr Silver and I were taken out to a secluded beach which was comfortably set up with cushions and an umbrella so we could sun ourselves while we enjoyed a picnic lunch and bottle of wine that had been chilled to perfection. We adored this experience as it was a time that we could just be completely together with no other distractions.
Another fantastic experience is a sunset sail on qualia’s yacht, Atomic. We enjoyed a bottomless glass of Veuve Cliquot and canapes as we watched a glorious sunset over the sea.
We dined twice in the hotel’s main restaurant which has a beautiful open terrace and serves stunning Modern Australian food. One night we chose the a la carte menu and the other night we dined on the tasting menu. All the food was beautifully presented and delicious. A real treat for Mr Silver was the live barbecue for his Wagyu beef!
One night we chose to have a room service dinner. Here is my one criticism of qualia: the room service menu is very limited and the service itself is slightly lacking. Our favourite seafood platter was bought to us simply on a plate covered with foil and no effort was made to lay out our table or provide extra niceties such as bread and seasonings. A minor complaint but something the hotel could easily work to improve.
The spa is a must-visit at qualia and is where the sense of touch will be appealed to. The ethos of the spa is to balance body and mind with treatments that capture the essence of Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. I chose a White Haven ceremony which included a sea mineral exfoliation, pearl and kelp mud wrap, rain shower, massage and facial. My mind and body were definitely in balance at the end of all of that!
One other activity that we had planned was catching a seaplane to White Haven Beach, an area renowned for its beautiful white sands. However, torrential rain scuppered these plans but it would have a been a gorgeous excursion. We were generally pretty lucky with the weather and it only rained on our last day.
And what of the world outside qualia? Well there’s really no need to leave but if want to you are provided with your own private golf buggy to drive around the island. A fantastic idea and Mr Silver’s favourite thing ever!!
Because qualia is so fabulously luxurious Hamilton Island by comparison is really just a standard bach resort. There are numerous activities including many sailing, sporting and family friendly attractions but nothing that really compares to the facilities that the qualia guests receive.
There are a few options in terms of dining, one night we dined at Mariner, a beautifully atmospheric seafood restaurant with gorgeous views of the harbour. The seafood platter we chose was ok but a little bit too deep fried for me and no where near as good as our beloved qualia platter.
Avoid Coca Chu like the plague, I was looking forward to the South East Asian cuisine that the menu promised but the restaurant had a canteen-like atmosphere and all the food was covered in gloopy brown sauce.
The only restaurant that even touches the food quality of qualia is Bommie, the restaurant in the yacht club. The menu here is modern Australian and it is the only fine dining option on Hamilton Island outside qualia. One thing that is rather fabulous, when Hamilton Island restaurants are made aware you are staying at qualia you will be given the best available table. So Rock star!! You can also charge everything on Hamilton Island to your room at qualia, including all restaurant, shops and beauty treatments.
There is also a golf course located on very nearby Dent Island which a rather elegant restaurant. On the rainy day Mr Silver and I caught a boat transfer over to enjoy lunch there. The views would have been spectacular were they not obscured by rain.
The best place to take in the sunset is One Tree Hill where you can see an awesome view of the island and drink early evening cocktails as the sun goes down.
However, qualia provides the ultimate in luxury and there really is no need to leave the confines of the gorgeous precinct with its 30 acres of sheer perfection!