The location is stunning, the sun’s reflection glitters on top of the pristine blue water, the lush palm trees extend their arms to welcome you to paradise… and then you arrive at Qualia… I think the phrase ‘Oh My God’ was a tad over-used during my time here. Although the inflection on the statement varied from a rapid-fire ohmygod to the more drawn out breath-holding Oh My God. This is Qualia!
When you arrive on Hamilton Island one of the resort’s drivers will pick you up from the airport. We arrived during Audi Race Week so we were escorted up the hill in a brand new Audi. The big iron gates of Qualia slowly retreat, like thick velvet curtains on Broadway to reveal the most spectacular set. It is so surreal, almost too perfect… and my first words are OH MY GOD!
Ahead is a view so sparkly it is blinding, either side of the driveway are lush green gardens hiding the individual guest Pavilions, a myriad of greens and blues. We pull up at reception, or the Long Pavilion, and rather then obstructing the view, this glass and timber building enhances it. This long building has doors that unfold letting the view trickle in. At one end is a bar and a corner library with a deck for an afternoon cocktail, or a wine and a quiet read. The other end is the dining area. Straight in front as you walk in is a relaxed lounge area over looking an infinity edge pool.
On checking in you will be given the keys to your golf cart for your own use to get around the resort (and the island) and told that everything is included except alcoholic drinks from the bar or with dinner. Children under the age of 16 are not catered for, and if we need anything at all, simply ’let us know’. For the busiest time of year at Qualia, it was peacefully quiet. Eager to check out our Pavilion we headed off in our golf cart with the things going on back home a distant memory. The Pavilions are special, although to fit in with the beautiful surrounds of the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays, they need to be!
Each Pavilion has it’s own living area, separate bedroom and Bathroom, a large outdoor living area and wait for it… your own private pool. What to do first? Take a dip in the pool, read on the big day bed on the deck, open the Champagne and sip idly as the yachts sail by or have a bath that is positioned to take in the view?
The marketing brochure says “This resort immerses you in a relaxed atmosphere, offering personalised and intuitive service. Qualia is a truly special place where everything has been meticulously considered to relax the mind yet completely spoil the senses. It’s what we refer to as the ‘qualia effect’.” Well we were certainly under their spell. With one of the Great Natural Wonders of the world right there in front of us, we opt to borrow some kayaks and paddle to one of the islands near by. It is moments like these that you do appreciate the environment we live in and feel blessed that you can reach out and touch it, smell it and even take a swim in it.
Dinner is served at the Long Pavilion, which is dimly lit with little tea-light candles everywhere creating an alluring ambience. You can opt to dine in or out. On a balmy night, with the soft sounds of the waves lapping up to shore, how could you not choose out? It is here when you realize how private the resort is. You get the feeling you have the place to yourself until you go to the restaraunts and get a pleasant surprise of seeing other guests there too. And being Qualia, the odd famous face can be spotted.
Spa Qualia Like the rest of Quallia, the Spa also blends in nicely with the surrounds and is built to maximise the view, bringing the outside in on every occasion (including the gentle sea breeze). There are six deluxe treatment rooms (mine has both an ensuite and outdoor shower) as well as additional guest facilities including a relaxation area with steam room and outdoor vichy shower. An open air yoga and meditation pavilion completes the Spa building. I’m thrilled to see that such a uniquely Australian Spa embraces the natural Australian product ranges Li’tya and Sodashi. Both ranges are more than creams… they come with healing rituals to treat your mind, body and soul. The menu is comprehensive but not overwhelming. I narrowed my choice down to 2 then opted for the Mala Maya, a body treatment using Li’tya products. It includes a body exfoliation, mud wrap, hair and scalp treatment, and a Kodo massage.
The treatment begins with a traditional smoking ritual to ward off evil thoughts and spirits. I like that. This is followed by a foot scrub and warm foot bath to begin the rebalancing and re-grounding process. I float to the massage table. Warm oil is drizzled and salt sprinkled over my body, and while my therapist scrubs new life into my skin I take in the native bird calls. I’m then coated in a luscious mud (chosen prior to the treatment based on my sensory needs) and wrapped up securely liked a precious gift. While the mud puts prescious minerals back into my skin and continues the cleansing process, I get to lay back and enjoy my all time favourite, a head and scalp massage. I’m so relaxed I nearly fall asleep, but will myself to stay awake so I don’t miss a thing. Getting back to nature, as they say, I wash the mud from my skin under the outdoor shower. As the mud washes away, it takes my tired, dry skin with it. It’s at this time that I am relaxed enough to absorb my surroundings. At the end of my treatment room are glass folding doors. They are opened fully and a few steps away (it seems) is the coral sea. To my left is the other wall that unfolds so there is no barrier between in and the little courtyard where I shower. Although the water is warm, it is still invigorating, possibly due to being outside with a wee audience of local birds and a few yachts in the distance. To complete the treatment is the uplifting and rhythmic Kodo massage. And at the end I am uplifted. When people say you’ll be taken on a sensory journey I now know what they mean. The journey takes me to a final destination of being recharged and energised… ready to take on the next adventure on offer by Qualia.
A special mention must go to the food. Like everything here, it is world class. The chili crab is a stand, and nothing makes a meal more memorable then a couple of whales frolicking in the water in front of you while you enjoy the taste of paradise. The Champagne was enjoyed watching the sunset from the highest point on the island… where they do have happy hour every night. There are some lovely (and challenging) bushwalks on the island. Make the effort to climb Peaks Passage – once you get to the top you are on the highest point of the island and the views go as far as the eye can see. Stretching along the Queensland coastline for over 2000 kilometres, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef system in the world. In close proximity to the Reef you find the Whitsunday Islands, a group of 74 islands the largest of which is Hamilton Island Qualia
Phone: 1300 780 959