Where To Stay In The Whitsundays
Island, mainland or boat, these are the choices you'll need to make before bedding down. Airlie Beach's mainland star continues to rise with new hotels, resorts and apartments maintaining their march along the waterfront and up Mt Whitsunday. Five star One&Only Hayman Island's only real competition is Hamilton Island's qualia, or the Yacht Club Villas for self-contained luxury acommodation. On the water, sailing and power boats are plentiful for overnight cruises.
One&Only Hayman Island
A master at reinvention since the first Hayman Island resort opened in the 1950's, under One&Only's attentive eye Hayman has never looked better. Spacious modern suites have direct access to Hayman's iconic pool while beach villas with private pools or resplendent penthouses ooze opulence. All new beachfront alfresco Aquazure restaurant opens onto overwater daybeds and a swimming pool suited to families.
Pronounced kwa-lee-ah, meaning a collection of deep sensory experiences, qualia is an indulgent private enclave on the north coast of Hamilton Island. Blending serenely into the natural landscape, Leeward Pavilions forest-filtered sea views are calming while Windward Pavilions come with ocean and island panoramas along with their own plunge pools. Fine dining, VIP chauffer service and exclusive use golf buggies are de rigeur at one of Australia's most awarded resorts.
Hamilton Island Yacht Club Villas
Walter Barda's expression of architecture as an art form is apparent across three and four levels of each Yacht Club Villa. Facing westwards across Dent Passage towards Dent Island, villas are all lofty ceilings, warm timbers, elegant angles and eye-pleasing furnishings. Perfect for couples or small groups travelling together, Yacht Club Villas would look right at home in the pages of Belle magazine.
Hamilton Island Holiday Homes
Private holiday homes occupying prime real estate across the island are an alluring alternative to hotel rooms. Two to five bedroom homes are fully equipped, including electric buggy. The only thing missing is food and drinks, which can be easily addressed by having a providore pre-stock the fridge. Boaties will love marina-side Pavilions while Point Blue comes with a 17m lap pool.
Hamilton Island Beach Club
Adults only, the Beach Club has been a staple on Hamilton Island almost as long as multi-story Reef Towers changed the Whitsundays landscape forever. New bathrooms bring the rooms into the 21st century kitted out with freestanding stone bathtubs, rain showers and Aesop goodies. Plantation shutters slide away to reveal garden terraces with direct access to Catseye Beach. Or, avoid the great unwashed and cool off in Beach Club's exclusive beachfront pool.
Hamilton Island Reef View Hotel
No matter where you are in the Whitsunday Islands it's hard to ignore the unbecoming Reef View Hotel which has dominated the landscape since the 1990's. The upside to architecturally miserable development is the splendid views from upper level Coral Sea View Rooms and Reef Suites. Beware of marauding white cockatoos which take pleasure in terrorising guests who leave balcony doors open.
Pinnacles Resort & Spa Airline Beach
Take in the views over Pioneer Bay from an outdoor jacuzzi from self-contained apartments or spoil yourself in the Penthouse Suite high on the hill behind Airlie Beach. Either way, this premiere resort is an elegant retreat from the downtown hub with gym, sauna and a dreamy wet-edge horizon pool perfect for early-morning laps.
Peppers Airlie Beach at Maria Shores
Creative stainless steel artist Jo Woolers' (of Mojo Creations) marine-themed creations (her turtles and manta rays are extraordinary) adorn the lobby and Tides Restaurant at Peppers Airlie Beach. If you can tear yourself away from Executive Chef Gregory Devine's divine creations like chilli caramel pork belly or pan fried calamari salad, or the Coral Sea views, check out the artworks suspended on the few walls in this open-air restaurant.
Overnight luxury sailing
Bareboat yacht charters are terrific if you want to captain your own ship, but for those who don't, overnight cruise guides can be hired to take control. Skippered Charters are a splendid alternative if your partner is a sailor but you're not - try Whitsunday Getaways' 43ft Fountain Pajot or Sydney Sundancer. Other luxury vessels for private charter include Ocean Dynamics, Bliss, Blizzard and DeLisle III.