qualia is situated on the picturesque super yachts’ parking lot for the Whitsundays’ Hamilton Island.
The rich leave their boats moored on Hamilton so that maybe a couple of times a year they can play captain ‘big swinging dick’ and sail around the Whitsundays’ uninhabited islands. They spend minimal time on the main island itself. Their boats go unloved, but are well financed like their children.
Keith Williams managed to get permission to build a substantial airport during a time when the political landscape allowed that kind of thing. You can get a direct flight there from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns.
My first impression via the phone is that the island has no indigenous culture. A couple of questions on arrival establish this to be so. The locals on the island, for the most part, consist of boat hands, golfers, wedding photographers and hotel staff. qualia has a reception at the airport gate. Its concierge plucks your baggage off the conveyor belt for you.
I was a bit of an unwilling castaway. I was in the mood for tunes, beach and open air uber chic BBQ (a style of restaurant sadly lacking from the limited dining options). I’m not keen on holiday dictatorships, tourist friendly menus or tourists who dress like tourists. Sometimes a revolution is necessary. Stop wearing crappy clothing on holidays!!! There. I have said it!
A 6’4” surfer in a suit pried the hand luggage out of my tightly fisted hand as I surveyed the motley crew of people getting off our plane. Maybe it was the complete contrast to my fellow passengers, but it began to dawn on me: everyone on qualia’s staff is attractive. My standards may have dropped with age, like my expectations. Everyone, including the female gardeners, is young, gorgeous, fresh and sober looking. I thought I was on set of a James Bond movie by the time we hit the stunning lobby.
The lobby overlooks the most pristine coastline and subtropical rainforest. The check-in staff look pleasantly puzzled by questions that don’t fit into their welcome script, like where do the locals eat?
The hotel is gated off from the world. There are not many guests and the ones they have are pleasant and well dressed for the most part. No kids! Not one!
On arrival you are given champagne and the keys to a golf buggy. A questionable combination. Loved it! The buggy is used to get to your room, terrify the tourists and explore the rest of the island.
The restaurant is open air and has a spectacular vista. Our waitress drawled out the most condescending welcome in an overly pretentious accent. We braced ourselves. This accent is applied when one intends to outclass the customer then gouge them. Our waiter, on the other hand, was charming and a little more honest in disposition. We went for the dinner package on booking and had high expectations.
We loved the main restaurant. Australian wild life thrives on the expensive imported plants. The restaurant’s vista includes kangaroo, cockatoo, kookaburra and rosellas.
The food is fun and interesting. The beachfront restaurant menu is not terribly exciting, but still a better option than anywhere else on the island. Poolside, they serve the world’s best three times cooked chips.
The hotel has a complimentary boat drop off to one of the many uninhabited islands, leaving you on a secluded beach. Book this on arrival or risk missing out. The hotel will pack you a picnic, drinks and an emergency phone. We jumped on the hotel’s speedboat and were left for a couple of hours of solitude. I enjoyed having a skinny dip, running around nude, to the horror of my conservative hubby!
Rick took out one of the sail boats and I just fluffed around resisting the urge to Instagram everything.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do something at qualia spa because it is fabulous!
Do take a solo sail
Do go to a secluded beach with a picnic
Do try the chips by the pool
Do order a G&T
Do the degustation in main dining room with wine option
Don’t order the oysters at poolside restaurant, or anywhere on the island, unless you have drilled the waitress. There are three ways to present oysters on a menu:
- “Freshly shucked” means the apprentice chef or the fish monger in Sydney turned the little fellows over earlier in the line of service… maybe much earlier.
- “Shucked to order” is when chef leaves the little guys alone in their closed shell until you order them. He then wedges the top of the shell off leaving the existing sea water and the oyster alone. On arriving at your table the little guys will be clinging to their shell. Hard to pull from shell and sea water salty! Perfection!
- “Shucked to destroy” is, well… when the oyster is all gloopy and yucky. Shucked and sloppily turned over.
Don’t drink and buggy drive. Australian road rules apply to your buggy licence.