Great for: Romance
What is it? Resort
Will set you back: AUD $1050 – 5500 p/n
Arriving at Hamilton Island Airport, it’s not hard to grasp the fact that you are about to begin a luxury experience. The qualia team greet us by offering cold towel and a bottle of cold water because, well you’re in Hamilton Island so you’re likely already feeling a little warm. The qualia staff take the liberty of collecting your baggage for you at the airport so you don’t have to wait, and delivering it to your made-up room in a secret and swift manner before you even realise what has happened. Tick! First impressions are strong, but this only escalates on arriving (by minivan) at the exclusive gates of qualia. Although there is a hold up with the opening of the oversized Jurassic Park-esque gates, the driver is extremely apologetic and it really only adds to the suspense that has been steadily building during the short drive across the stunning island.
Arriving at qualia is an utterly memorable experience. The lobby of this resort is one of the most naturally breathtaking I have witnessed, and I say “naturally” because the natural environment and view is the hero here. The lobby is in a way, stripped back, and there aren’t really any bells and whistles – these come in the form of a complementary cocktail or champagne greeting you at the door. Welcome to qualia.
The design of the resort is fairly simple and wood is the dominating material in what is a space that has been designed to make the 180-degree ocean view, the star. And rightly so, because it is absolutely ridiculous. Nature is king at qualia- it is all about letting the beautiful landscape and view do the talking, and the natural materials frame the surrounding landscape of Australian Eucalypts and the Coral Sea perfectly. “Subtly elegant, instinctively Australian and distinctively qualia” is the way the resort’s team describes its design, and I couldn’t agree more. It features 60 individually-designed pavilions that flow through to private sun decks and infinity plunge pools overlooking the sea, and it’s all courtesy of architect, Chris Beckingham.
Unsurprisingly, rooms are very comfortable. The Leeward Pavilion features a large, private balcony with a gorgeous view of the water, king size bed and a sitting area with the usual TV and sound system. The room is extremely relaxing and instantly feels like home due to its natural charm and effortless ambience- it is quintessentially Australian. With the masses of dark wood, nature references and relaxed aesthetic it is easy to settle in and kick your feet up in this little corner of paradise. However, a big oversight is the bed. Although the mattress is comfortable, there was no pillow menu (or if there is, this was not communicated), and I found it extremely difficult to get comfortable each night I stayed. Pillows are such a personal thing and for the nightly tariff, this inclusion should be a given.
Qualia Spa is one of the heroes of the resort. It is simply stunning in its nature-referenced design and the execution of services is faultless. I had one of the best massages of my life here, in a stunning corner room with glass overlooking Aussie flora, once again indicative of Qualia’s mission to reflect the unique Australian landscape to visitors. Anyone using the spa has access to the steam room and Vichy showers and I would not pass up an opportunity to experience this unique day spa.
Like all good islands, no cars are allowed on Hamilton Island. Transport is by foot or golf buggy, which makes the whole experience on the island even more unique. The buggies are a really fun way to get around and a great way to see the island, and naturally qualia provides every room with a buggy for use during their stay.
On arrival, guests to qualia are offered a number of tours or experiences that the staff can book for you. You can choose from boat trips, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking to name a few of the nature adventures, but the one I recommend the most is the helicopter ride to Whitehaven Beach. It is an indescribable experience and one look of Whitehaven from a bird’s eye view is enough for you to understand why it is the most photographed beach in Australia. Included in the fare is a picnic hamper provided by qualia for you to enjoy while enjoying an hour or so on the pristine sands of Whitehaven beach.
The infinity pool at Pebble Beach is absolutely stunning – 10/10 for beauty, design and luxury. The view is unbeatable and the staff are attentive at taking food and drink orders while you soak up the rays on the poolside loungers. The best bit? The pool never seems to be busy because many of the pavilions at qualia have their own pool with a view to the water.
This is one of the very few areas at qualia that could be improved, as the service was a little lackluster during my stay with a number of mix-ups and oversights. Obviously these “small” things matter when guests are paying a hefty price tag and naturally expect the absolute best. There is no room for error, and qualia would benefit from shaping up a bit in this area. However, in general the staff are friendly and welcoming, and in particular at the Long Pavillion restaurant.
Eating at qualia is a wonderful experience. There are only two restaurants, the Long Pavillion restaurant in the lobby, which is fine dining, and the more relaxed Pebble Beach restaurant near the pool, which is outside. In saying that, the prices at Pebble Beach are not too dissimilar from the Fine Dining restaurant so I would recommend saving your pennies for an indulgent dinner at Long Pavillion. On our final night at qualia we experienced an absolutely stunning meal and could not recommend eating here enough. There is something on the menu for everyone, the staff really know their stuff and there is even degustation for the foodies that really want to go to town.
Hamilton Island is one of the most stunning islands in the Whitsundays. The harbour is the main tourist spot and has a number of restaurants and shops, although when you’re staying at a place as beautiful as Qualia, one visit here will be enough. There are a number of lookouts on Hamilton Island that take in panoramic ocean views and are quite simply unbeatable, and One Tree Hill is particularly famous for its sunset views. Book your stay at Qualia here
Romantic and relaxing experience where the landscape and breathtaking ocean views are the star