Five star luxury at the Qualia Spa – Sandy Kaye experiences the newest retreat on Hamilton Island

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Hamilton Island: As I step off the flight on a warm sunny morning in late spring, I am greeted by a glass of champagne and an awaiting limousine. I am definitely in the mood for the days that lay ahead as they ought to be a deliciously re-energizing break from the monotony of my daily grind.

As the limo swings around a bend, two massive timber gates open simultaneously in welcome. Qualia lays stretched out before me. This is AustraliaÂ’s newest luxury resort and the complex sits perched on a hill top overlooking the calm blue waters surrounding Hamilton Island on QueenslandÂ’s picturesque Whitsunday coast.

Owned by veteran Australian yachtie Bob Oakley of Wild Oats XI fame, the secluded 6 star resort is all about relaxation and stimulating the senses – and as I am guided to the reception area to take in the panoramic view below me, my senses almost explode. Qualia and its surrounds are simply breathtaking.
IÂ’m handed keys to the little electric golf buggy that will become my mode of transport on the island and IÂ’m given a quick rundown on the resort and all it offers. ThereÂ’s a magnificent beachside pool at Pebble Beach where one can partake in a myriad of water sports and enjoy casual dining, a range of tantalising spa treatments to indulge in, and meditation and yoga sessions available in the purpose built atrium at the highest point and centre of the island.

Guests in relaxation mode are greatly encouraged to unwind and focus on the wellbeing of mind and body here. His and hers pampering includes anti-stress, anti-ageing, detoxifying and cleansing treatments with the signature treatment ‘Bularri Yarrul’, a hot stone massage using 300 million year old stones and aromatherapy treatments using unique essential Australian oils.

Surrounded by the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef, Qualia puts a great many pursuits within easy reach. Adventure seekers can try sea kayaking and bush-walking; alternatively guests can charter a private yacht with their own chef for the day and explore deserted beaches and coves. Private helicopter tours are also available and range from 10-minute flights to full day excursions.

As I unlock the door to my assigned room I am dumbstruck by the sheer luxury and stylishness confronting me. Architecturally superb, each of the 60 pavilions, as theyÂ’re called, is freestanding and measures four times the size of an average hotel room. Equipped with floor to ceiling windows providing stunning 360 degree views of the bays below, these one bedroom homes also feature sundecks and either private plunge pools or outdoor showers. If only one could live here forever!

QualiaÂ’s heart is undoubtedly the award winning architect Chris BeckinghamÂ’s cliff top “Long Pavilion” – where the dining room, bar, lounge and library merge. The feel inside this huge space is uniquely Australian luxury and simply heavenly. It is elegant yet casual and relaxed- a place where fine textures and beautiful stone sit hand in hand with eucalyptus.

Mealtime here in the Long Pavilion is a choice of indoor or al fresco dining and consists of clean, fresh, local produce which is prepared with a strong French influence that is simply delicious. I find menu choices very difficult to make and vow to sample as many different items as time will permit. My head swims too with some of the worldÂ’s finest wines on offer and an endless list of exotic sounding cocktails promising readiness in an instant.

If you get the chance, you must come to Qualia. It is certainly AustraliaÂ’s answer to world class luxury and definitely worth the visit. Try to arrange a pavilion with a plunge pool for which you can expect to pay around 800 pounds per night. ThatÂ’s pretty much all youÂ’ll spend daily, other than on alcohol, treatments and perhaps sight-seeing escapades, because the tariff includes all meals, non-alcoholic beverages, transfers and the electric golf buggy.

To avail yourself of the Qualia experience, you need to be over the age of 18 with a love of luxury and a passion for adventure. While your travel agent ought to be able to provide you with all the information you need to make the necessary arrangements, youÂ’d be well advised to check out the website too: www.qualia.com.au You know you deserve it!

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