Shhhh … A 5 star secret on the barrier reef!
The Qualia Secret…
It’s touted as Australia’s ultimate luxury resort, attracting high profile celebrities and stars, the elite of the business world and of course the wealthy, all seeking seclusion and privacy.
But here’s a sneaky way to enjoy the extravagance of Qualia, the $1500.00 a night (approx) premier accommodation on Hamilton Island, in the middle of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and perhaps hob-nob with world-famous socialites WITHOUT checking in.
Umm…but there IS a catch.
You do have to stay and pay at the Beach Club; the next best resort accommodation on the Whitsunday isle.
But hey it’s a significant saving and you get to experience both.
Here’s the secret.
Until now, Qualia was off-limits to any other guests of Hamilton Island. So when Brooke our liaison officer, who collected us from the airport informed us that, ”only 2 guests per night from Beach Club are allowed to visit Qualia’s Long Pavilion to dine, and if you wanted to experience it you should book quickly, or you could miss out”.
We really did soak up her sales blurb, checking in to the resort and booking dinner for the next evening at the same time. Thankfully.
My husband and I had gone to Hamilton Island, opting for the well-to-do waterfront lodgings of the Beach Club to celebrate our anniversary.
So we thought how special to be able to experience the extra opulence of the $100M+ world- renowned resort and further enhance our romantic getaway, as well as get to perv at what an extra grand a night might get you.
As we were chatting to fellow guests the next day explaining our plans for the evening, they too thought the idea of dining at Qualia was a grand idea. But proving that Brooke was indeed telling the truth about the exclusive 2 person limit, they were refused a booking.
It really was just us.
We were ready at 6pm and then transported by golf buggy to the northern-most tip of Hamilton where Qualia is both secluded- nestled amongst native eucalypts, and breathtaking- overlooking the Coral Sea.
With excited interlopers aboard, the buggy was ushered through massive, elaborate, architecturally designed wooden security doors, and we were driven down a long driveway toward the main common area of the resort.
There were roads off to the left and right, which obviously accessed the 60 hillside accommodation pavilions. We didn’t see anyof them nor did we catch a glimpse of any of their guests. Maybe they were already having a drink!
But according to the website there are 3 different styles of abode; 1-bedroom designs with either a sundeck or private infinity plunge pool or the 2-bedroom beach house; all luxurious using the finest imported and local timber and stone, and all with stunning views of the magnificent Whitsunday waters.
The same beautiful, breezy views we got to enjoy as well.
The Long Pavilion should actually be called the Really, Really Long Pavilion. It’s enormously expansive, and we opted to stretch our evening just as much by starting with cocktails at the end furthermost from the dining area. No stars yet.
Settling into black and white cushioned, wooden recliner-style chairs and lounges we breathed in the spectacular colours of the setting sun over the Great Barrier Reef.
Qualia is Latin for a “deep sensory experience” and that is what we indulged in as we listened to the relaxing sounds of nature, smelled the tang of the native vegetation, watched the ever-changing hues of the sunset, felt the cool breezes off the Coral Sea and tasted the refreshingly, well-made cocktails.
Then, as darkness descended we walked the more than 100metres to the other end of the Long Pavilion to the formal dining area. When it comes to fine dining at Hamilton, don’t think sequins and diamonds, rather it’s a more classy, casual attire in keeping with the relaxed and sensory brief. (which is just as well as I didn’t pack heels or bling. Who knew the secret?)
There are 2 dining options for in-house guests of the resort; the other being the more informal Pebble Beach by the water’s edge, which wasn’t on Brooke’s menu when we booked and which we wouldn’t have selected for this one-off anyway.
As you’d expect seafood is plentifully offered. You can choose from smoked rainbow trout for entrée to crispy skin coral trout crayfish cannelloni for main. The tempting fare changes regularly and depending on what’s in season and what’s been caught. I selected chicken with a sand crab roulade and my hubby stayed with his heart and went with the wagyu steak. The meal-sizes weren’t skimpy, were surprisingly well-priced and while quite frankly not the best we’ve ever eaten they were delicious all the same. More so because of the beautiful ambience, the comforting, attentive service and of course the romantic company.
We didn’t see anyone famous and of all the other guests dining, there was no indication of anyone more special than anyone else. (Including the ring-ins from the Beach Club.)
And finally when we’d laboured the evening for as long as possible, staff phoned for our pick up and we were golf-buggied back through the massive, elaborate, architecturally designed wooden security doors to our own resort and room.
Back to the outside where, as you now know, it’s hard to keep a secret.