Qualia often graces the lists of the world’s best luxury resorts for their unique Australian setting and impeccable service. In fact, guests start experiencing this service from the moment they step into the airport, where they are welcomed at a private guest service desk and greeted with cold water and fresh towel. Qualia staff then pick up your luggage for you to have it waiting in your room once you check in.
Best pavilion at Qualia
We stayed in Windward pavilion 6 during our stay, which was noted by several staff during our stay to be one of their favourite pavilions. Why is pavilion 6 one of the best? It is north-east facing which is perfect for sunrises, and is tucked away in the last pavilion of one of the quieter corners of the resort. The windward pavilions on the west aspect of the resort are good for convenience, but there is a slight trade off with helicopter noise during the day. Even if you stay in pavilion 6, there is no need to drive a buggy in a loop to get to the main pool area. It’s connected by a short walkway to Pebble Beach restaurant and pool. I spent every morning in the bathtub watching the sun rise during our 4-night stay, and not much time travelling back and forth from the main area of the resort – it was the best pavilion for our type of holiday.
How to get around Hamilton Island (Qualia)
The buggy drive down to the pavilion was perhaps the most exhilarating part of our welcome. Or was it the free champagne? If I had more than one glass, I may have been swayed to believe it to be the latter. As the island’s primary mode of transportation, the buggy’s provided by Qualia were quite responsive and would GO if you know what I mean.
There was also the chaffeur option for the nights that we decided to go to the island town and have a drink or two with our meal.
Activities at Qualia
We initially thought our honeymoon was going to be a lot of lounging around doing nothing, but the experiences at Qualia and Hamilton Island were too good of an opportunity to pass up. We didn’t know when we would be back next and wanted to make the most of our trip! The next thing we knew, we were waking up for a sunrise hike that we chickened out on and I spent yet another morning in the bathtub watching the sun rise.
Spa at Qualia
Whilst my partner does not generally enjoy massages, he LOVED the spa experience at Qualia so much that he agreed to a second massage right before we left! On the other hand, I was so relaxed during the massage that I fell asleep and they had somehow managed to flip me from my front to back on the massage table. I’m not sure if this is an indicator of the massage experience, but I was definitely impressed.
Private beach drop-off
One of the worst things about going to the popular beaches in Sydney are the crowds. It can be a mission and a half to get to the beach itself, and then trying to change into your bathers with one hand and holding a towel up to preserve your dignity is damn near impossible.
Fortunately, private beach drop-offs by Qualia are a specialty activity of theirs and this came free with our stay (which was not free, unfortunately). The drop-off was very well thought out. There were towels, sunscreen, deck chairs and an umbrella provided for our two hour beach trip. On top of that, there was also a picnic provided with charcuterie and cheese! With the rainforest as our backdrop, we sat back and relaxed – half hoping we would be forgotten at the island, half hoping someone would remember to pick us up.
Sake and wine tastings at Qualia
The intricacies of alcohol have always been a mystery to me, and these tastings revealed just how little I knew. During the sake tasting, we learnt about the different classes of sake based on the rice polishing ratio. As the rice became more and more polished, the sake became more sweet and almost white wine-like. Ben (the sommelier) kept topping up our drinks and we delightfully obliged.
Activities on Hamilton Island
On top of Qualia-specific activities, we were also able to climb Passage Peak, take a helicopter ride to Whitehaven beach, and spend a day at Dent Island golf course. These activities can be organised outside of Qualia, but we had these organised by the concierge.
At the highest point on Hamilton Island lies Passage Peak i.e. Hamilton Island’s version of Mordor. It is easily the most challenging hike on Hamilton Island as the last few hundred metres is a rapid ascension of stairs. As we arrived on the peak it were if as if we had passed into some sort of magical world. We were surrounded by dragonflies flitting from bush to bush while we hauled our exhausted asses to the nearest rock. I wasn’t quite sure if it was the delirium of fatigue or the breathtaking view, but we didn’t quite know what to say. We were just in awe.
Here is some important information you may need to get to Passage Peak, complete with map, length of walk and difficulty level;
Helicopter ride to Whitehaven beach
The hills inlet at Whitehaven beach is one of those things you just have to see at least once in a lifetime. There is no other way to describe it. The water is a bright aquamarine blue and the sand so white that you would need sunglasses to look at it. The sand was so powdery that when we stepped off the helicopter we sank several centimetres into the sand, and almost fell flat on our faces! As for food options and shade, this was again an experience that was all inclusive and we didn’t need to think about these things beforehand.
Our package was called “Whitehaven getaway via helicopter” for $350pp and the flights can be organised external to Qualia. Here is the link for the Helicopter tours;
Dent Island golf course
Dent Island is perhaps one of the most difficult courses in the world. Comprised of 18 holes, the 14th hole is lovingly known as the “Valley of Death”. As a complete golf rookie, I opted for the drive-around-in-a-buggy-and-eat-a-three-course-meal-after-all-that-hard-work option. As we weaved up and down through the peaks and valleys of the golf course, I gave myself a mental pat on the back for good life decisions. It was bloody hot, and the golf course would have been excruciatingly difficult to complete. However, all the sightseeing and photo taking must have been hard work as we were ravenous by the time it was lunch at the golf club.
The lunch activity at the Dent Island golf club is a bit difficult to find on their website as it isn’t a prominently promoted activity, but you can find the link here for $75pp;
- High cost of the room (Windward pavilion: $2000/night) came with an all-inclusive, intuitive service and experience
- In-room dining was the least enjoyable for us as we felt the quality was lower and food was overly salted
- There was a lot of freedom and flexibility to do whatever you wanted (especially with the inclusion of a buggy) but the capability to create a structured activity schedule was also there
- TL;DR In my partner’s words, “It was fun. It was nice. It was good.”