Unique Sleeps: One&Only Hayman Island
As fun as it is to travel with a toddler, sometimes it’s fun to drink cocktails at noon, and read books and sleep on a holiday.
With these ludicrous fantasies in mind, my husband and I left our small human with his grandyhuman and nicked off to One&Only Hayman Island.
We flew into Hamilton Island, then hopped onto a brand new luxury launch to Hayman. We (“I”) arrived famished so went straight to the poolside restaurant, Aquazura, trying not to notice the 4,000 small children splashing around the pool as we were seated. (Partly cos we already missed our own little guy, but also because: romantic getaway).
Crisp chardonnay, a kilo of fries (and some fish, I suppose) and some creamy fig and honey gelato revitalised our weary bodies, and woozy and happy, we headed to our room for a nap. A NAP. In the afternoon! With no alarm or small baby to wake us! Goodness! Such living dangerously! Much craziness!
Said room was completely fantastic with a side of amazing. We were in a stunning all-new villa, complete with an inside-outside atrium in the middle, which boasted a sexy pool and a little bar, and also the trees and the sky. I got a real kick walking from the bathroom (enormous bathroom, dream bathroom) outside past the pool, and back inside to the fully beachfront bedroom and sitting area. This might be because it reminded me we were in warm, tropical far north Queensland, where you can have indoor-outside living, (as opposed to Melbourne, where winter spans between 8 and 15 months a year) and it actually works, but it also might be because I’m six years old.
We spent the early evening drinking by the pool then tarted up for dinner at Amici, a busy, fun Italian joint with a cosy trattoria feel. It was by far my favourite dining experience and I enjoyed my meal immensely: the burrata was creamy, the vegetarian pasta was flavoursome and light, the fish was delicious, and the apple pie was INHALED. The only negative was that I was too full to try a pizza or tiramisu, so I was unable to have any pizza or tiramisu. I love pizza and tiramisu.
Bamboo, the Asian restaurant directly next door to Amici was quite tasty, but could do with better ambience. And by that I mean: We were seated on the verandah under super bright lights facing a swampy pond. In fact, maybe that giant Hayman pond needs a bit of a re-think in general…
Each morning breakfast was served buffet-style overlooking the sea at Pacific. The view out over the water and to neighbouring islands was breathtaking, but it was strange to me the restaurant wasn’t open for lunch, dinner or sunset drinks, as it was in such a ripping location.
Fire is the resort’s fine dining venue, which we had booked for Peak Night (our second night, and our anniversary/my husband’s birthday), but I was underwhelmed. We were seated at a huge booth in a cavernous, opulent room, which felt like it was a ballroom that had been re-appropriated, rather than a restaurant. I expect the brilliant young girl singing and playing the piano to show up on The Voice at any moment, (and easily win), but it seemed to us a shame to be inside in a big, dark, empty-ish room on an island of such kind climate and beauty.
Ditto Bar Fifty, which felt like a standard lobby bar anywhere in the world. Or someone’s living room. Again: I can’t understand why there is no bar over the water, or near the water at night for the mandatory sunset drinks. The service was also a little slow and clunky.
Oh, don’t worry. If I feel bad about all my whining as I write this review, imagine how awful I felt when we returned to our room after dining at Fire to find a hot bath strewn with rose petals, and a delicious Happy Anniversary cake and chocolate platter. Now THAT’s service.
We spent our anniversary/birthday in paradise, taking a chopper out to Whitehaven beach for a picnic (boats are also available) on one of Australia’s most stunning locations. After setting us up with umbrellas and a hamper of champagne and a fresh, healthy lunch, the lovely young pilot snuck off into the scrub for two hours as we swam and drank and took four million photos, presumably so he could do some work, catch up on Facebook and, I don’t know, weave some baskets.
THIS is how you do the Whitsundays, I may have slurred victoriously, more than once, splashing about in the warm, aqua water. We will never forget that picnic.
Our final day was spent lying around the (adults-only) slightly ridiculous Hayman pool, which is enormous and kind of 80s, despite its 1950s origin. We ordered obnoxious cocktails, swum and read, then headed to the spa for a pretty fantastic massage, actually. Tough day.
The spa, incidentally, is right near the Hayman boutique, which is a cracker. Usually on an island resort you’re lucky to find a decent replacement for something you’ve forgotten, but this is a shop where it is possible to do some Actual Real Life Shopping, thanks to Zimmerman, Acqua Brand, Seafolly and a cluster of cool international brands in stock. Bravo!
Oh, oh, and, the gym! The gym is excellent. Spacious, new and with several rooms boasting sparkling new equipment, plenty of machines, and more than enough weird PT stuff for us to do our kooky fitness programs in peace/without fear of strange looks.
But my bottom line when I stay anywhere basically comes down to this question: would we return?
In this case, I’m not sure. The quality and service elsewhere for the same price is just too high. (Bizarrely, I am referring to some of their sister O&O resorts when I say that.)
That said, it is clearly a terrific destination for families, and perhaps if we’d had our toddler with us my opinion would be different, and yes, overall we had a wonderful weekend, but there was just a little bit of cohesion and finesse lacking.
For instance, they kept forgetting to dress my caviar with gold flakes each morning. Unacceptable.
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