a collection of deeper sensory experiences
in Latin, is a collection of secluded, luxury pavilions perched on the northern-most tip of Hamilton Island. Each pavilion, through its clever design, achieves a unique sense of space and fluidity whilst conveying openness and harmony. Despite its location on the most inhabited island in the Whitsundays, once you pass through the gates of Qualia (yes, there is literally a gate), you enter almost a different world entirely (some say it’s reminiscent to Jurassic Park but I can assure you that it’s not the least bit scary). Best of all, it’s an adult-only resort (after six days at the Reef View hotel during the busiest time of year, a no-kids policy was very much welcomed).
My boyfriend and I checked into Qualia for a glorious 5 nights (although we had contacted them on numerous occasions to try and get in earlier but due to the time of year, it was booked to capacity). Upon check-in we were given keys to our golf buggy which would be our mode of transport to get us around the resort (and the island if we wished but we never actually left the Qualia til until we had to fly back home). Only golf buggies and commercial vehicles are allowed on the island meaning that it’s relatively quiet which was music to my ears.
We stayed in the north-facing Windward Pavilion looking out onto the Coral Sea. The outdoor private plunge pool is shaded by Eucalypts that frame the Whitsunday Island views. The double sized daybed provided a comfortable and cool area to lounge on if we didn’t fancy getting our feet wet.
Inside, there are 3 adjoining rooms, and with the sliding bedroom doors left open, you can see straight through from the bathroom at the far end to the outside plunge pool at the opposite end. The lounge is spacious, complete with a sofa with matching arm chair and foot-stool, TV, desk, kitchen top with sink, capsule coffee machine and minibar/fridge. Oh, and not to forget the floor to ceiling windows whereby one of them is controlled electronically, with the glass disappearing completely into the floor below, allowing you to step out onto the timber balcony (very 007).
The bedroom is fitted with two large wardrobes and multiple drawers along the back wall. The focal point of the room being the generous king size bed complete with uninterrupted views out onto the Coral sea.
The bathroom, almost as big as the bedroom, is fitted with a large, walk-in shower (equipped with shower head wall panels), two sink areas at opposite sides of the room (who wants to share?), and a smooth, stand-alone, stone bath, the perfect way to relax whilst surrendering your sights to the vast, blue ocean outside. If that’s not enough luxury for you, all bathrooms are stocked with Aesop shampoo and conditioner, cleanser, soap bars and body cream. Needless to say, some of it might have ended up in my luggage (shhhh…).
Despite having our very own plunge pool, we spent a lot of time down at the main infinity pool on Pebble Beach. Unlike some resorts, the sun loungers are nicely spaced out (which allows for some privacy and breathing room from other guests), topped with comfortable mattresses and shaded with large umbrellas. They also had a number of cabanas for those who want extra shade and shelter (much needed with the temperamental weather/occasional downpours, and where we spent most of our time).
Down on Pebble Beach is where you will also find the informal/more relaxed Pebble Beach restaurant where lunch and dinner are served. The prawn and mango salad, with feta cheese and pomegranate, and the parmesan fries come highly recommended.
The Long Pavillion is Qualia’s fine dining restaurant and where we got to sample their 6-course NYE tasting menu (the sashimi starter and wagyu beef main were divine). On regular nights, you have the option of 4, 6 or 8-course meals depending on how hungry you are. It is also where breakfast is served each morning; hot a la carte dishes, from eggs benedict to pancakes with berry compote, complimented with buffet-style continental grains and pastries. For those that have a sweet tooth, they take their honey here very seriously (see photo below).
The great thing about being on holiday is that if you don’t feel like going out for dinner (or cooking if you’re doing the self-catering option) then you don’t have to. To be honest, most nights we were just lazy and wanted to dine in the comfort of our own pavilion, and being in Qualia, who can blame us. Qualia’s In-Pavilion dining serves up a mix of the Pebble Beach menu and the pool bar menu with options like burgers and fries to oysters and garlic sauteed prawns.
For the ultimate, zen experience, you can start your mornings with Qualia’s complimentary yoga class. I managed to persuade my boyfriend to embark on his first yogi session promising that it would do his bad back some good. To my surprise, he thoroughly enjoyed it, so much so that we returned the very next morning. The class is beginner friendly, although more slow than I normally prefer, but a great way to start the day off nonetheless.
We also treated ourselves to a spa sesh (would have been rude not to) once I finally managed to navigate through the extensive menu. We finally opted for the 90-minute deep tissue massage combined with a 30-minute ‘grounding’ foot and ankle massage. We arrived 30 minutes prior to our massage, allowing us to unwind in the steam room before rinsing off in the (almost) 360 outdoor rain shower. The masseuses were very friendly and professional and most importantly, they knew what they were doing. They listened intently to our needs and delivered accordingly. I left feeling lot more relaxed and considerably looser, particularly around my neck and shoulders which cause me no end of pain on a daily basis.
For those feeling a little more adventurous, the activities team on Pebble Beach are at your beck and call. From snorkelling to windsurfing, and kayaking to paddle boarding, they have all the equipment you need if you fancy heading out onto the open waters. Amongst all the relaxation, we did manage to squeeze in a little snorkelling (although it was gloomy on the day we went and the tide was in which meant it wasn’t great for visibility) and some paddle boarding (this time I managed to keep on my two feet for the entire time) too. Had we not had a lovely picnic on the famous White Haven beach the day before, we would have made full use of the beach drop off service that they also provide where you can pre-order your picnic to enjoy on the beach.
On New Year’s Eve, we did the Best of Both Worlds helicopter tour over the Whitsundays. The helicopter takes off from Qualia’s very own helipad (although the morning of our flight, the helicopter had broken down at the helipad so we had to get another from the main terminal. We did get to land back at Qualia though) and flies to the famous and pristine White Haven beach where we stopped for a picnic (included) and a swim (incredibly clear, warm waters), before heading off to Reefworld to do some snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef. The birdseye view of the reef was all I had hoped for and more. That’s another thing checked off my bucket list.
Qualia is a truly magnificent place and really felt like we were on another island completely. It’s the perfect destination for couples who want total and complete utter luxury and don’t mind spending the money to get just that (ideal for honeymoons). The staff are friendly yet not obtrusive and always made sure issues that were raised (such as losing the power in our pavilion twice) were tended to immediately. I naively thought that we’d pop in and out of the resort like we did when we stayed at the Reef View hotel but once we entered the gates of Qualia, we did not want to leave (however, if we had not been on the island already for almost a week prior, I think we would have definitely made an effort to leave in order to explore the island). If luxury, exclusivity and relaxation are what you are after, all in the beautiful surrounds of the Whitsundays, then Qualia does not fail to deliver.