Hamilton Island and its associated resorts have once again shone in the Gourmet Traveller (GT) Reader’s Choice Awards. Qualia Resort and Spa on the Island proved itself to be a truly luxurious destination taking out the best Resort or Lodge category as well as the Best Spa category. The whole island wone the best family destination category.
Best Resort or Lodge: Qualia, Hamilton Island
Runner-up: Southern Ocean Lodge
Take one tropical isle in the midst of the world’s largest, most idyllic coral reef. Carve off a slice of the sun-soaked north of the island, shaded by eucalypts and drenched in dreamy Coral Sea views, for a resort like no other. Add 60 timber and stone pavilions, decked with fine linens and finishes and seasoned with sun decks and plunge pools. Add a further two swimming pools, an award-winning spa and a brace of bars and restaurants that showcase the refined cuisine of executive chef Jane-Therese Mulry (the first head chef of Marco Pierre White’s London empire) and the resort’s rather decent wine cellar. Pamper guests with personal golf buggies, a beach taxi service, an island chauffeur and a range of water-based activities that exploit the prime location, and you’ve got a fair idea why Qualia is the GT Reader’s Choice resort of the year.
Best Spa: Qualia Resort
Runner-up: Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa
It’s the location as much as the leisure options that have helped Qualia capture the imaginations of Australia’s sybarites. This exclusive billionaire’s playground on Hamilton Island in the tropical> Whitsundays offers mere mortals the chance to (briefly) own their own slice of paradise. Infinity pools, luscious sun decks and sleek finishes define the 60 pavilions set among the eucalypts above the Coral Sea. The heart of the resort is the spa with its six treatment rooms and breezy sea-view setting. Treatments have an indigenous accent thanks to the use of Li’Tya and Sodashi products and their emphasis on Aboriginal healing therapies. The menu offers something for everyone, from deep-tissue remedial work to pregnancy massages and scalp treatments. Dining can have a restorative slant too, thanks to largely organic and sustainable ingredients transformed into nutritious meals.
Getaway Best Family Experience: Hamilton Island
Runner-up: Wet ’n’ Wild Water World
A host of new facilities, a spruce-up of existing ones and the irresistible Oprah effect have lent a new lease of life to the leading resort island of the Whitsundays. As Ms Winfrey discovered during her whirlwind visit last year, Hamilton Island is the ideal jumping-off point for those who want to experience the highlights of coastal Queensland – whether snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, enjoying the world-renowned Whitehaven Beach or simply surrendering to the state’s well-honed holiday vibe. Hamilton pitches itself firmly at families with a range of deals offering free accommodation and meals for children, and ample activities to keep everyone entertained. Safe swimming and snorkelling at Catseye Beach, cuddling koalas at the wildlife park, fish-feeding safaris and more than 20km of bushwalking trails lead the list of attractions for all ages.