Quentin Long reveals what it’s like to honeymoon in complete privacy at Australia’s most covetable romantic luxury resort, qualia on Hamilton Island.
There are many theories about where the idea of the honeymoon originated.
My favourite – and the least likely, in my opinion – is of Nordic origin. The legend says a honeymoon was the period when a blond hero hid his recently abducted bride from her searching tribe.
When the search was abandoned, the blond hero would return to his village with his new and now well-trained wife.
Regular readers can enjoy the Nordic part of my honeymoon where I ‘abducted’ my new bride Wolf Creek-style and took her on a four-day honeymoon road trip through the Outback. In complete contrast, this is the ‘perfect’ part for the honeymoon.
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Is qualia the perfect honeymoon?
The brief for the ideal honeymoon is still pretty simple: it needs to be a self-indulgent, private, no-need-to-lift-a-finger, every-whim-catered-to destination. That’s qualia.
Qualia is a 40-pavilion retreat on the northern tip of Hamilton Island.
Don’t let preconceptions of the horrible ‘built for Japanese’ Hamilton Island of the ’80s and ’90s cloud your judgment.
A lot has changed since the Oatley family acquired the island in 2003.
What was once viewed as a nasty, overpriced rip-off has been completely transformed into a sophisticated leisure isle. The signature developments to this evolution are the brand-new Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the 18-hole Hamilton Island Golf Course (actually situated on Dent Island) and qualia, the resort that truly captures the essence of the new Hamilton Island.
The bluestone and timber pavilions at qualia are simply amazing. Beyond the wide front door, you enter an open-plan sitting room with a small kitchenette. A comfy sofa and discreet TV are barely noticed in favour of magnificent views out to the Whitsunday Passage through a full glass wall.
The pavilions at qualia
All 40 of the villas are oriented in such a fashion that you feel like you’re enjoying a private island owned by the love child of Coco Chanel and Giorgio Armani. It’s sophisticated and indulgent without being ostentatious.
In the bedroom, a lusciously comfy king-size bed is positioned to take in those astonishing Whitsunday views. The bathroom features an egg-shaped bathtub, and marble floors and vanity.Aesop products are replenished every day after my new bride mysteriously manages to use the entire supply…
Each pavilion also has a private outdoor area. An undercover day bed and breakfast table provide respite from the midday sun. For tanners, sun lounges are positioned for maximum melanoma creation. The private plunge pool is adequate in size for those not wishing to do laps, so there is no need to mix with other guests at the resort’s main pool.
The facilities included in each pavilion are top-notch. Plug in your phone and your tunes will be piped through all rooms, or you can select which rooms play your music and which ones don’t.
The minibar is well stocked, and the complimentary bottle of Mumm for honeymooners well appreciated. All that is why for the first three days of our honeymoon we only venture outside the pavilion for meals.
By day, I read by the pool while the wife sleepily mosies from the bed to the plunge pool to the day bed to the lounge to the bed again, in two-hour cycles, before it is again time to eat.
Private picnic at qualia
We do manage to leave our honeymoon bubble on the fourth day for a private picnic on the beach.
And yes, it is as superb as it sounds. Snuggling on towels under a massive umbrella, we sip champagne, nibble fresh prawns and smoked salmon and wonder how on earth the rest of the world could live without such experiences and one of the world’s most beautiful vistas.
That picnic is one of the most memorable moments of our married life to date.
Ask the wife today what she remembers about the honeymoon and it’s pretty straightforward: “It was just superb,” she says. “Eat a magnificent breakfast then lie by the pool. Have a fantastic bottle of great wine over a beautiful lunch and lie by the pool. Shower and change for dinner, then enjoy another superb bottle of wine and a meal of at least one-hat standard. Then head back down to bed.”
You would never tire of qualia
One other moment stands out for me.
On the morning of our fifth day, the wife sits down to breakfast. After sipping on her fresh tropical juice and slurping on a skim flat white, she peers over the breakfast menu and sighs, “I just can’t eat any more smoked salmon.”
“Did you just hear what you said!” I splutter.
She gives me the smile that melts my heart, turns her beautiful profile to peer out over the magnificent Whitsundays Passage and says, “You could never tire of this.”
The smoked salmon maybe. The place… never.
How long to stay at qualia
Most guests opt for stays of two to three nights. If you can afford it, four or five is even better and the rates do come down a little for stays of four or more nights.
Spa services at qualia
Spa treatments are in high demand: we were unable to book any spa treatments at all for the entire length of our stay, so make sure you book online before arrival, or enquire about availability as soon as you check in.
Pavilion types at qualia
There are two standards of pavilions at qualia: Leeward, which do not have private plunge pools, and Windward, which do.
There are two types of bookings, bed and breakfast or bed, breakfast and dinner.
Leeward pavilions rates
$1350 per night bed and breakfast
$1700 per night bed, breakfast and dinner
Windward pavilions rates
$2000 per night bed and breakfast
$2350 per night bed, breakfast and dinner
There’s also a Beach House for $4800 a night bed and breakfast.
All island facilities are included in your room rate, but we doubt you’ll want to venture out. Although you may want to check out the brand-new golf course on Dent Island, where guests at qualia have priority bookings and tee times. qualia does not cater for children.