WARNING – This review contains unbridled enthusiasm, a touch of envy and many gratuitous photos of opulent accommodation surrounded by stunning scenery.
I’ve declared many times I’m a five-star loving gal, so you can imagine it took no more than a nanosecond for me to agree to visiting qualia, a six-star resort on Hamilton Island. qualia is often featured in celebrity Instagram posts so I knew to expect opulence and stunning scenery but nothing prepared me for the wow-factor when we walked into the Long Pavilion. The views stopped me in my tracks and I began babbling every cliché description including breathtaking, spectacular and unbelievable. Once I got over my initial excitement, I just stood drinking in the view and popping it into my memory bank to draw upon when back in suburbia dealing with the usual day-to-day routine.
qualia (pronounced kwah-lee-ah) in Latin means “a collection of deeper sensory experiences”. qualia is located on the northern-most tip of Hamilton Island and consists of 60 luxury pavilions. Australian architect Chris Beckingham’s vision was to create a luxurious Australian retreat that stimulates the senses and draws the outside in. In this he has exceeded with the lush gardens and the Great Barrier Reef showcased at every turn. Chris and the Oatley family (owners of qualia) should also be immensely proud of the accessible pavilions. qualia’s pavilions prove luxury and accessibility can come together in harmony and what a stunning outcome that is.
On arrival at qualia, guests are greeted with French champagne and a personal concierge. Forget waiting in a queue to complete check-in, guests are shown to a lounge where they also have the opportunity to discuss and plan their stay with a staff member. An individual itinerary is then produced for the guest, that’s if they can bare to leave their pavilion of course!
qualia’s pavilions have been designed to ensure the privacy of guests with a distance between each and no ability to peer into your neighbour’s backyard. Entry to the resort itself is only available to guests or staff so it’s peaceful.
An undercover private driveway to the Windward and Leeward Pavilions allow guests to pull right up to the door in their personal buggy (included in stay).
When booking, you can choose from a north-facing Windward Pavilion or a Leeward Pavilion. Both are spacious and offer accessible options however, the Windward Pavilion is larger and the most luxurious with a private plunge pool.
The accessible Windward Pavilion features beautiful polished timber flooring and a seamless entry from outside. It’s a dream for a wheelchair user with plenty of circulation space and room on either side of the bed for transferring.
Stylishly decorated and furnished there’s everything you need for a comfortable stay including a lounge area, deck and the infinity-edged plunge pool.
Floor to ceiling windows ensure there’s a stunning view of the Coral Sea from every room.
I can’t imagine how wonderful it would be to have a plunge in the pool.
Now, there are accessible bathrooms and accessible bathrooms. The accessible Windward Pavilion has one fabulous accessible bathroom with all the features needed in a functional bathroom but with all the luxurious trimmings you’d expect of a six-star resort.
The bathroom has a roll-in shower, flip-down shower bench, hand-held shower head and fixed overhead shower head. All amenities are lowered and a grab rail is provided in the shower.
Since our visit I have read Mr Oatley has the staff roll the bath mats in a particular way so one flick of your foot means it can be unrolled with ease. qualia is a resort heavy on fine details to enhance the experience of guests.
Accessible bathroom sinks on either side of the bathroom ensures there’s no jostling for position in this room. These have wheelchair access, are at a lowered height, have lever taps and space on either side for a cosmetic bag.
To appreciate the size of this room I took a photo of BJ in his chair but getting him to stay still when there was a whole room to explore was difficult!
It’s wonderful to see the accessible room providing the option of a bath and shower because we know our readers have a variety of abilities and preferences. BJ certainly prefers a bath when he has the option.
Surrounded by grab rails and with sufficient room on one side to transfer from a wheelchair the toilet is discreetly hidden from view by a low tiled wall.
The accessible Leeward Pavilion is similar to the Windward Pavilion with polished timber flooring, an open plan with good circulation space for wheelchair users and a seamless entry.
There’s room on either side of the bed for transferring from a wheelchair and a clearance underneath of 7cm for anyone wondering if a hoist will fit.
A lounge, television, and tea and coffee making facilities make this accommodation more comfortable than a regular hotel room.
Sliding doors are barrier free allowing easy access for wheelchair users to the deck and garden outside the accessible Leeward Pavilion.
The Coral Sea can be seen through the bushland.
The accessible Leeward Pavilion bathroom features two wheelchair accessible sinks, lever taps and lowered amenities.
The shower area features a flip-down shower seat, hand-held shower head, grab rail and room to transfer from a wheelchair.
The toilet is again discreetly placed, surrounded by grab rails and has room to transfer from a wheelchair on one side.
Key to keeping BJ still is clearly popping him in front of a mirror to admire his handsome self. Once again, I’ve included this photo to show the space in this bathroom.
For those preferring, and able to take a soak in the tub, there’s a bath in the accessible Leeward Pavilion.
When I walked into the Windward Pavilion I felt I’d be happy to stay at qualia and never leave my room. With a plunge pool, a bath to soak in and spectacular views, why go anywhere else? But then I saw the rest of the resort and decided I could indeed be lured away from the room to enjoy the facilities at Pebble Beach, the island’s recreational precinct.
I’m a master at imagining myself in a situation and I had no problem at all picturing myself swimming in the climate-controlled infinity-edged pool and stretching out like a lizard on a sun lounge, while ordering poolside drinks and snacks. I felt myself turning an ever-so-subtle shade of green as I watched the guests around the pool doing just that.
I may be giving you the impression qualia is all about relaxing, but there’s a range of activities available at Pebble Beach including catamarans, kayaks and sailing lessons. qualia can also arrange to drop you at a private beach for a picnic. You are of course welcome to participate in any of the other activities that are on offer outside of the qualia gates on the island too.
Pebble Beach doesn’t have easy access, with the only ramp path being uneven, currently very steep and rocky. We were advised a beach wheelchair has been used by a previous guest staying at the resort.
If you find life pool-side exhausting, you can always visit Spa qualia for a treatment, or to participate in a yoga class. The Spa is a sanctuary where guests can relax and once again has been perfectly positioned in this case, to catch sea breezes.
If you can’t bare to leave the view in your pavilion, you can order in-room dining or get take-away delivered from one of the many restaurants on Hamilton island. qualia offers two restaurants, Long Pavilion and Pebble Beach Dining. The Long Pavilion offers a casual modern Australian menu featuring vibrant ocean-fresh flavours of the South Pacific region, innovatively paired with organic local produce.
Pebble Beach offers a contemporary beachside dining experience for guests with Executive Chef, Doug Innes-Will, and his team offering guests the opportunity to enjoy a signature Tasting Menu featuring six courses.
The menu showcases the marvelous produce available locally from the Whitsunday region, vegetables grown on the island and those found throughout regional Australia.
For guests short on time, there’s the opportunity to arrive by helicopter on qualia’s private helipad. It’s the best view I’ve ever seen from a helipad.
We found access throughout excellent. It was a push up the hill from the Long Pavilion to the accommodation but that’s why guests have access to their own electric golf buggy. Accessible stand-alone unisex bathroom facilities are provided in the common areas of the resort ie. Pebble Beach, Long Pavilion and at the spa.
I’d love to say we stayed at qualia but we were simply there for an all too short visit to inspect the accommodation. qualia accommodates guests 16 years and older and pavilions accommodate two people. This is an ideal couple’s getaway and if Hubby ever finds himself with a surplus of cash and a desire to treat me to a romantic getaway, 2 nights (minimum stay) in a Windward Pavilion would do the trick (currently approximately $1800 per night).
You can read more about qualia here.
qualia not in your budget? Take a look at the accessible room at The Reef View Hotel here.