Is this Australia's most luxurious hotel? The Travel Hop checks in to Qualia to find out
There’s luxury and then there’s LUXURY. For those with some cash to splash and an appetite for the finer things; when it comes to living the hotel high life Down Under, there’s nowhere quite like Qualia.
Meaning a ‘collection of deeper sensory experiences’ this luxury resort was constructed in 2007 at a reported cost of $110 million. Widely credited for kickstarting the country’s uber-luxury hotel boom, its 60 swanky pavilions offer everything a well-heeled guest could want. But it’s not just epic facilities, sleep-inducing beds and private pools that have us hankering for a stay.
Positioned on the northern-most tip of Hamilton Island and nestled on the edge of the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef with breathtaking views of the surrounding Whitsunday Islands and Coral Sea, Qualia is the embodiment of the ‘location, location, location’ adage. Little wonder that this Instagram-worthy slice of paradise has repeatedly been voted one of the best resorts in the world.
From world-class service and food, to poolside luxury, romance and celebrity check ins - Australia’s hottest haute hotel is the stuff of bucket list material. Don’t believe us? Read on for 11 reasons why.
IT HAS BEEN VOTED ONE OF THE BEST HOTELS IN THE WORLD TIME AND TIME AGAIN
Qualia is known as one of the best resorts on earth - and has a full trophy cabinet to prove it
There isn’t enough space here to even attempt to cover the ridiculous number of accolades that Qualia has received since first opening its doors.
A member of Relais & Chateaux, it consistently wins the hotly contested Best Resort category at the HM Awards (six years running currently) but its biggest win was when it scooped the Best in the World and Best Resort in Oceania titles in the coveted Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards. The first Australian property to ever top the prestigious survey in its 25-year history.
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THERE’S VIP TREATMENT FROM THE GET-GO
Arriving into Qualia and this view is the first thing that awaits you
The experience begins as soon as you touch down at Hamilton Island's airport where Qualia has its very own check-in desk to receive guests, offering a seamless transfer to the resort ensuring that you don’t need to bother with queueing and waiting for transport.
The grand, Jurassic Park-esque doors of the main entrance offer an indication of the ostentation the awaits inside. Swiftly arriving, visitors are presented with a glass of chilled bubbly by attentive staff before they step into the reception area, aka the Long Pavilion.
Opening onto an epic panorama of the Whitsundays and beautiful Coral Sea, which can be seen through floor-to-ceiling folding glass doors, expect to hear new arrivals involuntarily gasp as they take in the stunning vista.
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YOU CAN POTENTIALLY RUB SHOULDERS WITH AN A-LISTER
Mr Thor himself aka Chris Hemsworth striking a pose by his private infinity pool in Qualia
Speaking of VIPs, Qualia has won the approval of the world’s A-list becoming a go-to on the Australian itineraries of visiting celebrities. Talk show queen, Oprah, took up residence in one of the plush villas during her famed tour of the country a few years back, while Taylor Swift and her entourage took over the property after she wrapped the Asia-Pacific leg of her latest world tour. Other top-tier Tinseltown favourites who have checked in include One Direction, Johnny Depp, Leonard DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Kate Hudson.
International stars aside, homegrown heavyweights are also fans of the paradise-like property, with Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Miranda Kerr, Toni Collette and Naomi Watts have all enjoyed a stay.
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THE RESORT IS ADULTS ONLY
Adults only: cruising the waters of the Whitsundays with a glass of bubbly in hand
Advance apologies to readers saddled with kids - or those who want to take their brood with them on a getaway - but for holidaymakers who either don’t have children, or want to enjoy some 5-star serenity without the wailing and poolside dive bombing, then Qualia’s strict adults only policy is a godsend. No noise, no disturbances and no sharing space with unruly midgets. The 16-and-above rule means that peace and relaxation are guaranteed and given the hefty nightly price tag, it’s understandable.
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THERE’S SERIOUS ROMANCE ON THE REEF
You'd need to have a heart of stone to not feel the love at Qualia
Putting the swank into swanky, this hideaway has become a Mecca for loved-up couples and honeymooners.
Positioned on one of the highest points on the island, 360-degree views that await guests from the luxurious pavilion suites (each with its own private sun deck or infinity plunge pool) are guaranteed to set hearts aflutter. And whatever you’re trying to make up for, a surprise vacay here is a surefire way to earn forgiveness - or at least extra brownie points - from your belle or beau.
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THE SPA IS BLISS-INDUCING
You can spend months working your way through Qualia's indulgent spa menu
Following on from the above, what says romance more than a couples spa treatment?
Spa Qualia’s unique collection of signature couples treatments and packages ranges from aromatherapy massages with sweet chocolate spice massage oil, to the popular wine lovers couples ritual, comprising a chardonnay massage, pinot noir body mask and burgundy bath with a wine of choice and fruit selection to add to the experience.
Treatments aside, the complimentary steam room and outdoor 12-head vichy shower are also available to all guests to enjoy efore or after the treatment, guests will find the outdoor sun lounge area and yoga pavilion lawns which provide a relaxing area to enjoy the tranquil surrounds.
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Big kids turn into little ones when behind the wheel of a gold buggy
There are no cars on Hamilton Island, apart from a few official vehicles for guest transfers, but guests at Qualia are provided with their very own golf buggy to drive around in. Guaranteed to bring out your inner-child, zipping around the resort and island in one of these is another holiday highlight.
THE SUNSETS ARE EPIC
One of the swoon-worthy sunsets during our visit to Qualia
Sunsets in the Whitsundays are legendary wherever you go, but at Qualia you can go one step further by taking in the magical natural display aboard a luxury yacht. Each evening guests can pay to head out to sea in the resort’s luxury private yacht to take in the magnificent palette of colours as the sun sets into the horizon as you enjoy chilled champagne and a selection of mouth-watering canapes.
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YOU CAN EAT LIKE A KING
A seafood platter so pretty it's almost a shame to eat at beachside restaurant, Pebble Beach
Both of Qualia’s two restaurants deliver the quality of food you’d expect at a slick, hatted city centre eatery.
By day the Long Pavilion serves breezy breakfasts, by night it transforms into a relaxed dining experience offering a casual modern Australian menu and an accompanying wine cellar selection. Dishes are seafood heavy with paired wines from its adjacent cellar.
More seafood options can be had at the beachside Pebble Beach. For a casual lunch - think salt and pepper Moreton Bay bug tails or fresh, melt-in-the-mouth sashimi - opt to have it poolside. In the evening, the restaurant becomes the resort’s signature dining experience with Australian-meets-Asian tasting menus match with sommelier-selected wines.
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THERE’S HELICOPTER SERVICE DOOR TO DOOR
Paul high rolling in a helicopter over the stunning Great Barrier Reef
You can’t stay on Hamilton Island and not see the world famous Great Barrier Reef. And while it’s beautiful from the water, it’s even more spectacular when seem from above. Handily, Qualia has its very own landing pad, which means that scenic flights by helicopter are a literal door-to-door experience.
Taking guests over unique coral reef formations (including the famous Heart Reef) and perfect turquoise seas, you’ll be able to spot turtles, manta rays and even add on a stop off to the nearby Whitehaven Beach (recently voted the second best beach in the world) for a picnic lunch on its famous sands if you so wish.
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IT HAS TWO JAW-DROOPINGLY BEAUTIFUL INFINITY POOLS
The Pebble Beach pool overlooking the pristine waters of the Whitsundays
Want a choice of infinity pools? At Qualia, you can take your pick. Here, there’s not just one gorgeous infinity pool, but two, and both overlooking the tranquil waters of the Whitsundays.
The resort has two infinity-edged pools, both offering stunning views. The lap pool runs alongside the full length of the Long Pavilion, while the enormous square-shaped Pebble Beach pool is flanked by a row of cabanas and a large grassy area.
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