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One of the biggest advantages to using points as much as we do is the ability to use the savings for experiences that are complete and utter splurges. Qualia is one of them. Qualia has been known to be one of the best resorts, if not the best, in the whole of Australia, and I can honestly say, after staying there, I can see why.
- When: April 2018
- Where: Qualia, Hamilton Island, Australia near the Great Barrier Reef
- Program: Virtuoso
- Upgrade to vetter view
- Sunset Cruise ( worth about $300AUD)
- Category: Leeward
- Better view upgrade, not windward
We utilized our partner Josh King who has really done great by us time and time again with Virtuoso bookings. In terms of payment we earned 3x points by using a Chase Ink Business Preferred; however, if you were looking to book this yourself, I’d seriously think about using a Capital One Venture and book with Hotels.com to earn 10x points. That’s just an insane earn rate, and no you wouldn’t get Virtuoso benefits, but when rates are high and there isn’t a loyalty program, that’s a fantastic credit card benefit.
Qualia from the sky
Nestled at the end of the Hamilton Island, behind gates, is Qualia
The experience starts upon arrival at the airport.
We flew in from Sydney direct to Hamilton Island. The views are jawdropping. The color of the water, uninhabited islands here and there, and then Hamilton Island comes into view. As you fly in, you’ll see an uber posh looking resort hanging off the cliffiside – that’s Qualia.
Grab your carry-on and make your way across the runway to a Qualia welcome committee armed with cold towels and beverages ready to whisk you away in some of the only motorized vehicles on the whole of the island. You’ve just arrived. Hop in the car and enjoy the drive, you’ll get a good idea of the island you’ll visit in your own personal golf cart assigned to you during check-in.
The Gates open and voila – you’ve entered paradise.
The Qualia lobby has one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen.
A small stone walkway covered with a vaulted wooden canopy leads to a completely open air, infinity pool lined, endless ocean and island view landscape. It must be common that most guests visted are mouth agape because only seconds pass before a glass of champagne is in your hand and you’re sipping crisp bubbly and pinching yourself to make sure this is real life.
Check-in is done at one of the many couch setups in the lobby and has a much more personal feel than a normal desk and chair arrangement most of us are accustomed to experiencing.
Our room wasn’t quite ready. We made our way down to the pool bar. That pool tho. After a fresh and quick snack we were told our room was ready.
Our Leeward Villa:
Located on the opposite side of the island from the lobby was our villa. Perched on the side of the cliff and looking directly at a small bay we were so excited. Note: the hotel is pretty strict about not upgrading from leeward to windward ( windward have their own private plunge pool ) and the charge is 650 AUD per night to do so. Honestly…if I were to return, our room was so nice and the view was stunning, so I’m not sure I’d advise spending more. The only circumstance I could see doing it is if you’re really wanting extreme privacy and potentially utilizing a 4th night free with Citi Prestige or the like so the upgrade was pro-rated.
Back to the room: It’s stunning. We had a welcome desserts for our anniversary, a bottle of champagne, and floor to ceiling views.
I love the Balinese style of the villas, wooden floors, vaulted ceiling, small sitting area, and a fabulous balcony. When we first walked out we caught two kangaroos playing in the wild area below us.
The bath features twin closets, stand alone tub, rain shower, dual vanities, and Aesop products.
We had quick sip, thanked Josh for an awesome set up, clinked champers glasses, and then hopped in our golf cart to explore the island.
The island is chalked full of cool things to do, inside Qualia and outside. In fact, we made great use of our golf cart and drove the entirety of the island, seeing One Tree Hill at sunset ( highly recommend ) and also visiting the harbor where boutiques and shops line the entire area. One cool part of the island is that you can charge to your room, regardless of resort, wherever you are. No need to carry cash, just charge to your room. Which makes more sense anyways, as you can earn 3x points on room charges with the Ink Business Preferred.
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef
While the hotel has a gorgeous pool and we made use of the spa for a morning yoga class, the real reason you come to Hamilton Island is to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Prior to arrival we had arranged a private helicopter tour to the reef. For those wondering cost: $737 AUD ( $550 ) a person to helicopter out, have a private experience on the reef with champagne and canapes, and then helicopter back. The whole experience is about 3 hours and it is totally worth the price. As a point of comparison, if you heli out/back and then boat the opposite way it’s $480 ( $360 )
One thing to note: we weren’t able to utilize the resort’s helipad…the day we left a family had rented out the entire resort for a wedding and the helipad was being converted into something for the wedding. Ungreal.
As I mentioned earlier, the spa is gorgeous and serene and offers free classes like yoga, which we really enjoyed.
The combination of infinity pool and island poking through the sea make for one of the most memorable pool views and experiences I’ve had. It’s no wonder you see countless Instagram shoots taking place.
Breakfast was served each morning, free with Virtuoso, just off the lobby to the left. It featured a small selection of made to order hot dishes, as well as the typical continental options like yogurt, fruit, and pastries.
We also celebrated our anniversary at the restaurant one evening. Great food and attentive staff, but quite pricey compared to other options in town.
Virtuoso perk: Sunset cruise
Ironically, neither my girlfriend or I had much expectation for the sunset cruise. We certainly didn’t imagine we’d be aboard small chartered and private boat with fantastic canapes, champagne, beer, and wine for just us and another couple. It ended up turning into one of the highlights of our stay and I believe runs $150 per person under normal circumstances. The views are absolutely stunning and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Hamilton Island from a different perspective. The route we traveled gave an amazing look at the island and just how special Qualia really is.
This place will blow your budget out of the water, but it’s an incredibly special place. The staff are well trained and there to support most any request you’d have during your stay. If you’re looking for an extraordinary way to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or see the Great Barrier Reef on your honeymoon, Qualia would make it undoubtedly unforgettable.
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- Why you should add Hamilton Island to your Australia adventure
- What it’s like taking a helicopter to the Great Barrier Reef
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