The Whitsunday Islands are back and better than ever, Escape, March 2019
Two years after Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays – smashing 93 boats in Airlie Beach and wrecking resorts – you’d be hard-pressed to find any evidence of those 36 hours of destruction. This most important of Queensland tourist destinations – 74 islands, hundreds of kilometres of reef and thousands of accommodation options – has rebuilt, refurbished and reopened to once again boast a bed for every budget and taste.
The much-anticipated return of Daydream and Hayman Island resorts in coming months will place a final firm fullstop at the end of this dramatic chapter in the region’s history.
Here’s what’s on offer.
LOADS OF LUXURY
QUALIA, HAMILTON ISLAND
Stay in a Windward villa at Hamilton Island’s Qualia, and you can lounge in an eggshell-shaped bath while peering out at gorgeous ghost gums, an aqua ocean and beyond to neighbouring Whitsunday Islands.
Or maybe you prefer sipping champagne from your private plunge pool or lounging on a day bed?
With its Long Pavilion, designed to replicate longhouses in Papua New Guinea, two top-notch restaurants, exclusive wine cellar, two swimming pools, yoga pavilion and divine day spa, this adults-only, 60-room resort is the most luxurious in the Whitsundays, and a haven for honeymooners.
Windward Pavilion, Qualia. Picture: Hamilton Island
HAMILTON ISLAND YACHT CLUB VILLAS, HAMILTON ISLAND
Leonardo was here. Di Caprio, that is. Legend has it the actor wanted to stay at Qualia, but was travelling with kids, so checked into a Yacht Club Villa instead. Overlooking neighbouring Dent Island, and with manicured lawns and a curving pool, this opulent offering is no shabby second choice. Designed for families or groups of friends looking for luxe, there’s 35 multi-level villas which sleep up to eight people in four bedrooms. Each has full kitchen facilities and a barbecue for outdoor dining.
Hamilton Island Yacht Club. Picture: Hamilton Island
HAMILTON ISLAND BEACH CLUB, HAMILTON ISLAND
Snatching pole position along Hamilton Island’s Catseye Beach, the beautiful, boutique five-star Hamilton Island Beach Club has 57 rooms over two levels. Strictly adults-only, there’s a private infinity pool and lovely lounge in which to while away dreamy days. Enjoy your own exclusive stretch of sand where you can also dine at night on request.
Listen to the roar of the shore from your room with its fresh white plantation shutters, and crisp blue and white linens and cushions.
Hamilton Island Beach Club. Picture: Jason Hill and Tourism & Events Queensland
WATCH THIS (LUXE) SPACE
ELYSIAN RETREAT, LONG ISLAND
Due to open on March 30, exquisite Elysian on the southern end of Long Island comprises 10 exclusive oceanfront villas. Think day beds, spa, yoga and a mineral resort pool in this stylish, sustainable retreat.
Elysian Retreat, Long Island.
Fans of Daydream Island will adore its reincarnation when it opens April 15, with 277 modern rooms and suites, three restaurants and bars, and a beautiful pool precinct. Its trademark man-made Living Reef will be even more stunning, with the coral lagoon wrapping 200m around the central building with 1.5 million litres of water to house its magnificent marine life.
Daydream Island resort reopens next month.
HAYMAN ISLAND BY INTERCONTINENTAL
A Whitsunday institution, Hayman Island promises to delight and surprise when it reopens on July 1 as an IHG property. Expect world-class facilities in this 166-room hotel, new spa, kids’ club, and stunning retreat spaces. A heavenly highlight will be the newly-built Beach House accommodation as well as luxury private residences.
Intercontinental Hayman Island Resort. Picture: IHG