32 and a small q

qualia on hamilton island[trip style = luxe + sun + beach] {more pictures below}

I don’t typically frequent the same resorts as Oprah. Our tastes and budgets are a little different. But recently, I made an exception involving a birthday, a villa with views, mojitos crammed with hand-crushed ice and enough lime and mint to freshen my breath for years, and some of the best cuisine I tasted in Australia. This place was qualia---with a small "q" to underscore the brand of refined and understated luxury served at the lush resort overlooking the Whitsunday Isles.

Visiting qualia marked a special occasion for my husband Nathan. It was his 32nd birthday and we decided to celebrate in style (so in style it will be his birthday present for years to come!). From the moment we rolled down the hill and into the resort's sturdy front gates, I knew this experience would go beyond any version of luxury we'd ever encountered. And it did. Walking the short and shaded corridor leading to the lobby, we were met with two glasses of bubbly and an ocean vista so piercingly blue, I couldn't take my eyes off of it.

The champagne did not stop here; there was a bottle of chilled Veuve Cliquot waiting in our villa. Of course there was---I should probably be used to this by now. As we were getting settled in the room, we were startled by visitors. Not the kind that knock, but the kind that talk. Two cockatoos landed on our balcony and proceeded to fan out their bright yellow mohawks and initiate a serious staring contest with us. The timing was so perfect, I thought they might be mechanical birds sent via remote control to every guest's balcony upon arrival, but when I came face-to-face with the most colourful parrot I've ever seen in town, I realized that's life on Hamilton Island. And quite a life it is.

Each villa came with its own golf cart, so after making small talk with the cockatoos, we donned our beachwear and floored it at 20km/h to the seaside infinity pool. This foliage-filled scene was so soothing and inviting, we didn't want to leave, and in fact didn't until dusk, closing the place down that evening. Pool-party animals? Not quite, since all our smoothies and mojitos were virgin. We just revelled in the opportunity to watch the sundown in such a setting.

I'm glad we saved that bottle of Veuve from our villa, because the next day, it was the perfect complement to our private beach drop-off. Yes, in addition to the visiting birds, golf carts, bottles of champagne, free-flowing virgin bevs and the most sophisticated version of included breakfast I've ever been served at a hotel, qualia also includes daily, off-site, beach drop-offs to guests who want to get away from it all, like they're on a luxury, celebrity version of Survivor.

What to Know

  • For a more detailed account of my stay at qualia, read my Trip Advisor review here
  • qualia is an exclusive all-villa resort and spa on Hamilton Island
  • Villas start at $950 night
  • The resort has two types of villas: leeward and winward {winward villas have afternoon sun and private plunge pools}
  • Included amenities: wi-fi, daily breakfast, all non-alcoholic beverages, a personal golf cart and private beach drop-off
  • Hamilton Island is accesible from major cities in Australia, with multiple flights arriving and departing the island daily. Otherwise, you can take a 30-minute Fantasea Ferry from Shute Harbour in Airlie Beach. Note: if taking the ferry from Airlie, you must set your Hamilton Island arrival point to "Marina" not "Airport".
  • Hamilton island has a host of family-friendly and adult-only accommodations
  • There are multiple restaurants on the island

Pictures qualia pool {The pool.}

pool at qualia {View of pool from poolside cabanas.}

quaia pebble beach {The beach.}

cockatoo qualia {A cockatoo on our villa's balcony.}

qualia's leeward pavilion {The villa's sitting area.}

qualia room {The villa's sleeping area.}

leeward bathroom qualia {The bathroom.}

qualia breakfast {Breakfast appetizer.}

qualia eggs benny {Breakfast main.}

qualia beach drop off {The beach drop-off.}

qualia pool mojito {Sunset bevvies poolside.}

qualia pebble beach sunset {Sun setting at qualia's pebble beach.}

More Australia Month Planning a Trip Up Australia’s East Coast JetSet Jingles :: Australia Spotlight :: Syndey Ultimate Urban Adventures & the Sydney BridgeClimb Heavenly Huts :: Wilson Island Tea, Tim Tams & Tides :: Whitsunday Islands

{all photos by @tripstyler and @nate_fri}