Redefining luxury in the Whitsundays
SEVENTY-FOUR Whitsunday Islands stretch between the northeast coast of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef, encompassing some of the most picturesque destinations and landmarks including Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet, Heart Reef and of course, the Great Barrier Reef. This part of Australia has always been popular among locals and internationals, and now, with the much-anticipated re-opening of the Whitsunday Islands Daydream Island and Hayman Island, and the opening of the Elysian Retreat on Long Island, the destination is in for further growth.
Elysian Retreat on Long Island has been the first of the new resorts to come online, opening its doors in December last year. The Retreat is the most secluded island resort in the Whitsundays, incorporating a three-hectare private cove surrounded by rainforest and all the Great Barrier Reef. Elysian is a boutique island retreat with a small team of staff, including a private chef to cater to a maximum of 20 guests.
Another anticipated opening is that of Hayman Island Resort by InterContinental, one of Australia’s most iconic and exclusive resorts. Due to officially open 1 July this year, the resort will feature 166 guest rooms and suites across three accommodation wings, event and wedding venues, a collection of new restaurants and bars.
“Australia is about to experience a new era of luxury with the opening of Hayman Island Resort by InterContinental,” said Mark Eletr, Resort Manager. “Guests will experience a bespoke escape with the options to experience the full resort offering or reside in full privacy and serenity in one of our new-build beach residences.”
In the coming months, Hayman Island will be announcing its line-up of food and beverage experiences, alongside local tourism activities and further information on the introduction of new luxury suites, the beach house and residences.
Another addition to the luxury market is Daydream Island featuring 277 contemporary suites and rooms, along with three new signature restaurants and three new bars. Infinity will be the resort’s premium dining offering with an Asian fusion menu, and expansive views over the Whitsundays. It also has a private Teppanyaki Suite, along with the Graze Interactive Dining offering an interactive marketplace with live cooking stations and diverse dining options. Inkstone Kitchen and Bar will focus on a modern Australian cuisine with local produce and Australian native flavours.
“Daydream Island is on track and very much looking forward to opening in April 2019 after a two-year redevelopment,” said Daydream Island’s Director of Sales and Marketing Jayson Heron. “The destination is an idyllic oasis with breath-taking landscapes that rival any island location in the world.
“Guests will love the new and improved Living Reef with Education Centre and Underwater Observatory plus the expanded food and beverage offering with three new restaurants and three new bars,” he said.
Other amenities include a revitalised pool landscape which will be complemented by a poolside Barefoot Bar, a new dining concept serving gourmet burgers, sliders, pork ribs and chicken wings with fresh smoothies, milkshakes, wine, beer and tropical cocktails. Another highlight is the opportunity to interact with the local sealife. Guests can join a team of marine biologists living on the island to feed baby stingrays who live amongst over 100 species of marine fish, coral and invertebrates such as starfish, sea cucumbers and crabs. A new underwater observatory will also allow guests to view 4m below the water’s surface to watch the marine life in action.
Whitsundays’ flagship Hamilton Island continues to upgrade and improve, with the Bouganvillea Marquee, which will be renamed the Beach Pavilion, about to undergo a $3.5 million rebuild, due for completion early 2020. Once completed, the structure will be able to be fully enclosed or open for trade expos, conference sessions and gala dinners. Hamilton Island also recently launched a Pizzeria and Gelato Bar in the Marina Village, serving 20 fine crust pizzas and 12 gelato flavours to choose from.
Another evolving region is Airlie Beach on the mainland, where there are now two hatted restaruants. The first at Walter’s Lounge Port of Airlie and the second is Hemingway’s Restaurant Abell Point Marina.
Just under an hour’s drive is Lake Proserpine, a region that’s set for a huge infrastructure development in 2019 which will see a new recreation centre with water sports features, new accessible jetties, camping facilities near the lake, and new glamping cabins.
The area is also home to the recently reopened Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation, Australia’s largest coffee plantation. The new and improved space has a restaurant and function space overlooking the cane fields and mountains, along with coffee roasting facilities and a kids play area.
For travellers eager to explore the Whitsundays by foot, a new walking track and lookout will soon be established on the southern end of Whitehaven Beach, due for completion in 2019. On the northern end of Whitsunday Island, the renowned Hill Inlet platform has also been extended.
Another addition to the region is the inclusion of public art around the reefs and bays. As part of a research project undertaken by Reef Ecologic and James Cook University, six artists were chosen to display their public sculptures, with the first ones recently being installed at Langford Reef. At high tide the artworks are submerged underwater.