It’s the first 100 per cent solar-powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef and the newest to be built in the Whitsundays for years. But does Elysian Retreat stand up to its sustainability claims?
Long Island, Whitsundays
Contemporary, classy, coastal chic punctuated with sandy tans and Whitsunday blues with a splash of high-end hippie. Boasting plump couches coupled with plenty of wicker, cane and hanging chairs and hammocks, plus thatched roofs and timber floors and walls, it’s a blend between Fijian feels and Queenslander cottages here.
There are only 10 villas, all offering ocean, mountain and rainforest views, and paramount privacy.
The giant hollow tree trunks fashioned into lamps in the rooms and bedside tables made out of blocks of timber. There’s no keys to the rooms at this relaxed resort and no telephones in your rooms either, you simply blow a whistle if you need to attract attention. Swinging chairs at the bar are a fun addition.
The Eco Ethos
The first thing you’ll notice upon arrival is the paddock of solar panels at the south of the resort. Thatching on the roofs has reduced temperatures by 10 degrees, while high cathedral ceilings draw the heat away and upwards inside.
Water is captured in 500,000 litres of rain tanks and is triple treated here for maximum usage. Guests are gently reminded that water is a precious commodity on the island. There are set meal times to capitalise on the solar power and in the kitchen itself, the dishwasher is only used once a day, and the sink twice a day, to conserve water. Inside the rooms, guests have access to ethical zinc sunscreen, natural bug spray and organic tea.
The Luxe Factor
Despite its commitment to the environment, this resort does not scrimp on luxury, with all rooms offering fans, air-conditioning, televisions, coffee machines and mini-bars stocked with Australian beer and wine.
Bathroom amenities in refillable containers are also eco but elegant with mint and spiked ginger lily shampoo and conditioner; Himalayan cedar wood body lotion; tulasi and wild turmeric body wash; and aura protection body mist. Indulge in either an indoor or private outdoor shower under the stars. Wi-fi is coming but in the meantime, those with Telstra 4G access have coverage in the main restaurant area and, at times, in their rooms.
The all-inclusive package includes three gourmet meals daily, plus a cocktail and canapés before dinner, and high-end wine paired with each dinner course. Vegetables and herbs are plucked straight from the island’s own herb garden and food is sourced from surrounding farm regions such as Bowen.
Executive chef Joshua Beckett operates a daily changing menu by using the best ingredients available and pairing them with the preferences of guests. Feast on the likes of red emperor caught straight from the surrounding Coral Sea for dinner, or a healthy breakfast bowl designed to resemble the aqua ocean and surrounding mountains.
Once a week, there’s also a chef’s table for guests in which shared food platters are served and on your last night, the chef will prepare you a ‘last supper’ of your favourite foods.
There’s a small but gorgeous day spa here with a variety of interesting therapies such as Crystal Healing and Sacred Stone. Guests can also indulge in longer spa treatment Elysian Journeys which pay homage to its sensational surrounds such as the Island Bliss, Ocean Rhythm and Island Dreaming treatments.
Things to do
Bathe in the magnesium pool to relieve stress and detoxify and energise the body; join the free daily yoga session at 7am overlooking the ocean or partake in a paid private yoga session; take a bush walk; organise a day trip to another island; and indulge in unlimited use of water sport equipment including snorkelling gear, SUPs and glass-bottom kayaks. Or simply hang in a hammock and read, relax and revel in having this piece of paradise all to yourself.
The prevailing trade wind in the Whitsundays is a south-easterly and despite being in a protected cove, this resort still sits at the southern end of Long Island, which means you can be exposed to windy weather. There’s also a rocky beach here which makes access to the water a little difficult.
This resort lives up to its sustainability claims, trying to conserve water and energy at every opportunity, without compromising on guest luxury. The service is extremely personalised from this Queensland family-owned company and is reflected in everything from your greeting on arrival to your daily chats with the chef about your dining preferences.
Perched on Long Island, you arrive either via a small boat from Airlie Beach’s Shute Harbour or Hamilton Island, or by helicopter from Hamilton or Whitsunday Coast Airport (Proserpine). There are regular flights from Australia’s east coast capitals to either Hamilton Island or Proserpine airports from which transfers are readily available.