A stay at this renowned resort's latest high-end digs is just the tonic, even in the rain.
Whitsundays' most northern island has had quite the adventure since it was first developed in the 1950s by Ansett. There's been several different owners as well as devastating damage from cyclones in 1970, 2011 and 2017. But when it reopened (care of IHG Hotels and Resorts) in 2019, there was one thing missing: VVIP digs. This has now been sorted with the launch of the exclusive and adults-only Hayman Island Beachfront Pavilions: just 12 of them, at a respectably posh distance away from the hoi polloi and hustle and bustle of the resort proper.
I've stayed at Hayman Island resort a few times and, as occasionally happens in the Whitsundays, it was windy. "You're staying at the Pavilions?" the buggy driver gushed, before clocking the weather and my solo status. "If it gets too loud, honestly just call reception and they'll have you moved." But the wild weather, on the edge of an island, in this comfort and luxury, made the experience better. That's the appeal - exclusivity. Reclining in your very own plunge pool, with your VIP-delivered restaurant meal, you can feel like you have the island to yourself.
With sustainability and privacy at the forefront, the resort describes their design inspiration as "barefoot luxury". Think soft grey linen, soothing blues and crisp whites, with warm lighting, rugs and artwork to create an intimate cocoon. The deep bathtub has been designed so that guests can soak in style while gazing out at the ocean.
Inside, it's spacious and open, with floor to ceiling windows, understated but stylish furnishings and lots of mod cons that take it up a notch. In the bedroom, where the sumptuous bedding and panoramic ocean views already scream "Stay in! Stay in!", a big TV descends dramatically from the ceiling at the press of a button.
One of the best things about Hayman is all the wonderful eating. Delicious melt-in-your mouth curries (wagyu beef vindaloo, green eggplant) and great Thai dishes (green papaya salad, salted beef) at Bam Bam. The very best poolside snacks at Aqua: a Moreton Bay bug sando, caviar, pork and prawn toast and sashimi or tuna tartare. Five-star Italian restaurant Amici serves the ultimate in fancy feasting. Plus, excellent late-night cocktails at Bar Fifty and pretty much everything at Pacific where, for breakfast, the omelette chef takes personal pride in cooking me the best one I've ever had. Here's the clincher: (only) as a Pavilions guest, you can get all these delivered - arriving silver service style via their "My Concierge" service - and it's pretty special fine dining on your own terrace overlooking your private beach.
There's a 24-hour gym, day spa, boutique/coffee shop the Grove, golf simulator, two big swimming pools, sea kayaks and stand up paddleboards to hire. The concierge will also arrange and curate a host of activities for you - a private beachside dinner under the stars, cocktail classes, guided walks or tours off the island, such as taking that bucket-list trip to Whitehaven Beach.
Do yourself a favour and book into the Blue Pearl Bay guided hike and snorkel: a rambling 45-minute walk through the bush followed by a guided snorkel with so much to see - within minutes we spotted turtles underwater as well as four giant Maori Wrasse.
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Where: Intercontintental Hayman Island Resort Beachfront Pavilions, Whitsundays, Queensland
How much: From $1410 per night
Explore more: haymanisland.intercontinental.com
The writer was a guest of Hayman Island Resort.