What makes for a great escape?
For me, it’s the SMALL things that make for the BIG memories …
The scent of aromatherapy oils wafting from a vapouriser lit in your bathroom.
The genuine smile on the faces of EVERY staff member you so much as walk by.
White ginger and pear herbal tea served up to you before and after your beachside massage.
Sheets so soft you never want the night to end.
Water so blue you never want the day to end.
Scallops so big and plump you want to marry them.
Palette cleansing sorbet served up in glass tea-lit domes.
A dessert that pops like Space Rocks in your mouth
Chartreuse cushion arrangements in an apartment designed by a fashion icon.
A Bloody Mary bar that helps you get through breakfast the morning after the night before.
White swans gliding across the lagoon outside your window.
Cheeky white cockatoos swooping your balcony hoping to score a titbit or three.
A chocolate room that smells exactly like you imagine Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory to smell. Only better.
Lemongrass body wash and coconut body balm wraps you in a tropical scent that you wish will never rub off.
In just 16 hours on Hayman Island I experienced all of the above. Quality time in a special place that already has me plotting to return.
Here are some visuals:
The visit to Hayman was just one part of a four-day trip* to The Whitsundays in Queensland’s tropical north but it was a part that had immediate and lasting impact.
Hayman has long been on my bucket list. I worked in PR at a five-star resort in the early 1990s and my colleagues would regale me with tales of having visited the island on “reccies” – fact-finding missions, which they tried unsuccessfully to pass off as arduous work.
Umm … kind of what I am doing right now ;).
I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve lived in Queensland all my life and have never visited this region, a region where adjectives like amazing, stupendous, mind-blowing, awesome and ridiculous fail miserably in any attempt to do it justice.
Instead, I’ll share with you my fave five things from my trip.
Oprah hosted a barbecue on this 7km long white silica sand beach when she visited a few years back. I was content to wallow like a dugong in its shallows. Whitehaven is currently voted the third best beach in the world, the best in Australia. Its icon status is so great, seeing it and swimming at it was indeed something spiritual, even if I did fall over on the boat ride getting there, while attempting to take a photo and balancing champagne, my phone and a camera. Did you know you can clean your jewellery in the sand? Talk about shine bright like a diamond.
I knew I’d very much enjoy the dinner at Fish D’vine. Within minutes of arriving, owner Kev (also an Airlie Beach councillor) bounded over, big grin on his face and announced he was bringing out a round of the “world’s best” mojitos for us to sample. This very much put a grin on OUR faces, a grin that got even wider as the food began to arrive. Whole coral trout, tempura king prawns and a Thai curry crab that had some members of our group licking the shell, lest one skerrick be returned to the kitchen. I would suggest that the dish on which the crab was served did not even need washing up after she was finished with it, either. I do love good, fresh local seafood served up simply and deliciously and this meal ticked those boxes.
It’s been nine months since my first helicopter flight, a spectacular experience above New York. This time it was nature’s visual feast on display for me – confirmation that this is indeed a powerful and exciting way to get a spectacular geography lesson. I rode shotgun, completely fearless and in awe as we flew from Daydream Island to Hayman, via a birds-eye view of places we had visited by boat. The way the lush, green islands rise out of the turquoise sea is even more magnificent from this height. Not to mention the rock-star effect of arriving at a destination and landing like the rich and famous on a resort helipad. Yep, that was pretty damn special too.
I’m a spa rat from way back. Way back at that five-star resort I worked in PR at in the early 1990s. It was my first taste of this thing they call pampering and I haven’t looked back since. I book holidays based on available spa access and I know to book spa appointments long before you reach your destination – particularly if arriving on a weekend. Time slots are at a premium and I was lucky to slip in a 90-minute beachside massage in a cabana on Hayman before jumping on the launch to head back to Hamilton Island for our flight home. This treatment is one of Hayman’s signature spa offerings. It was a bit disconcerting travelling via golf buggy in just a spa robe and undies – I had visions of the whole thing flapping open – but once in the cabana, with nature’s “music” of wind and water lapping the beach, I made like a sea sponge in my therapist, Claire’s experienced hands. There may have been snoring involved. There was definitely a whole lot of bliss.
I would hardly call myself Nature Girl. Except when it comes to getting a five-star massage in the outdoors (see above) but there was something about the thought of feeding stingrays and having them swim between and around my legs that had me lining up during a tropical shower in knee deep water at Daydream Island to do just that. The stingrays have all been de-barbed and call the resort’s Living Reef their home. The marine biologists who run the “Stingray Splash” experience, liken stingrays to cats … they come a crawling when they know there is food around. When they rub up against your leg, it’s kind of like wet velvet. Unusual but not uncomfortable. As you put your hand down to offer them a piece of fish, they suck it in from their mouth located just under the front of their body.
In four days (in between conference sessions … yes, we did do SOME work. I even walked on cut glass in one of the personal development sessions) we barely scratched the surface of this magical part of the world.
One thing, I know for sure?
I’ll be back.
* I was in The Whitsundays as guests of Tourism Queensland, Whitsundays Tourism and Hayman Island.