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Hotel review: One&Only Hayman Island (Australia)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a luxury hotel and/or flight review.

Last month (November 2014), I enjoyed a wonderful holiday Down Under. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (December 17, 2014): Review of the One&Only Hayman Island (Australia).

Located in the heart of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, One&Only Hayman Island is the northernmost of the Whitsunday Islands off the coast of Queensland. Within this private island resort, stylish elegance reflects the harmony of nature with beautifully appointed accommodation set against the backdrop of the Coral Sea. The resort is managed by the One&Only Hotel group, one of the world’s most luxurious hotel brands.

One&Only Hayman Island features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most exclusive private island resorts, the best luxury hotels in Australia, and the world’s best family hotels, as well as in my list of the most luxurious hotels that opened in 2014.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube Clip & slide show):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Location, location, location! The hotel is located on its own private island, which is the northernmost of the Whitsunday Islands (off the coast of Queensland). The Whitsunday Islands are internationally famous for their rugged, green-clad islands, blue waters and beautiful beaches, and Hayman Island is no exception to that.
  • Transfer to the resort (from Hamilton Island Airport or the mainland) is in fact a sightseeing trip on itself, and done by yacht (50 minutes), helicopter (10 minutes) or waterplane (10 minutes). Most guest will arrive by yacht, and will be offered Champagne and canapés on route. I booked the yacht transfer, but I was upgraded to a heli flight.
  • Upon arrival, golf buggies are waiting to meet you and take you to the resort (about 600 meters or 2000 feet from the private harbor). A member of staff will then guide you on a short welcome tour of the large property and take care of the in-room check-in. I was welcomed by Ben and he did a great job!
  • The resort has two large, exquisite pools. The enormous hexagonal, iconic Hayman pool mainly attracts adults, is filled with salt water, and feels refreshingly cold (although it has a separate, smaller and heated pool, filled with fresh water, in its center). On the eastern side of the resort, you will find a new, somewhat smaller and heated pool, filled with fresh water, that mainly caters to families with young children and offers nice ocean views (because of its beachfront setting). Lovely towel and ice buckets with bottles of cold water are provided to guests at both pools.
  • The resort is located along a beautiful, palm fringed beach, with plenty of sun loungers and umbrellas. The beach is composed of soft sand that does includes fragments of shell and coral. Like most Whitsunday beaches, it has a pale brown colour (in contrast to the famous and blinding white silica sands of Whitehaven Beach, which you can visit on a heli excursion).
  • The refurbished rooms, suites & beach houses are amazing. During renovation, One&Only reduced the room inventory from 210 to 160 to be sure that room size met their high standards (minimum 54 sqm). All rooms & suites feature a private balcony, spacious en suite bathroom with separate shower, bath, double vanity and open-plan dressing room. The bed is one of the best that I have ever slept in! I was upgraded from a Hayman Lagoon Room to an incredibly beautiful Hayman Suite.
  • Rooms & suites are located in three distinct areas of the resort, each different in style and ambiance, and each designed to take advantage of the breathtaking views of the island and its natural surroundings:
    • The Hayman Wing is located on the tranquil eastern side of the resort, overlooking a serene lily lagoon and close to the family pool.
    • The Pool Wing overlooks Hayman’s iconic hexagonal pool, with some suites offering direct swim-out access into the pool.
    • The Beach Wing features a collection of uniquely designed villas for those in need of a beachfront setting.
  • There is complimentary WiFi throughout the resort.
  • Although the staff looks and is very young, service at the resort is excellent (unlike a couple of Tripadvisor reviews, I did not experience any service issue during my 3 night stay). The staff struck the perfect balance of helpful but calm, polite but fun, professional but casual, understated but available, smart but not snobby. To give some examples: around the pool a staff member came by every day to clean sunglasses, and nightly turn down service included fortune cookies one night and Koko Black chocolates another night. For my birthday (which I did not mention, but they must have noticed it on my passport at check-in), I received a lemon cake and chocolate strawberries.
  • The sport’s club on the beach offers varying watersports, such as complimentary catamaran sailing, windsurfing and paddleskiing. For the more adventurous, tube rides, jet skis and water skiing are available at an extra cost.
  • The resort has several restaurants with extensive menus, so those staying longer than a few days will never be gastronomically bored. In all restaurants, food is great without being pretentious. Their signature restaurant Fire offers modern Australian cuisine, while Amici offers Italian dishes and Bamboo delicious Asian food (the wagyu beef is to die for!). Other food options include the Pacific restaurant, in-room dining and snacks by both pools.
  • The Pacific restaurant, perched right by the sand and sea, not only offers great dining but is also the location of the daily generous Champagne breakfast buffet, with fresh pancakes, freshly baked pastries and eggs made to order.
  • Both sunrise and sunset can be watched from the beach at Hayman Island (assuring some terrific moments of pure romance). For a full view of the sunset, walk to the beach bordering the eastern side of the resort (close to the Hayman wing).
  • The One&Only Spa is a sanctuary of wellbeing, a place where you can indulge and unwind. Don’t miss it!
  • The resort has a new, large and state-of-the-art fitness centre with separate areas for cardio, weight training and stretching.
  • The hotel is located in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef, and takes advantage of its prime location: there are plenty of (expensive) excursions on offer ranging from hikes, helicopter ride to Whitheaven Beach, snorkel trips to the Great Barrier Reef, and sailing adventures around the other island.
  • Hayman Island has plenty of wildlife: I saw several interesting bird species, as well as plenty of wallabies at dusk. In addition, the island is home to thousands of flying foxes (large fruit bats or macrobats): as the sun goes down, these bats leave their treetop camps and stream across the sky, creating an impressive and noisy spectacle.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

One&Only Hayman is easily amongst the best beach and/or island resorts that I have ever visited. Simply put, it’s a brilliant resort and a no brainer when you travel to the Whitsunday Islands. I recommend it without hesitation to every discerning traveler, but there are some things you need to know and some areas where there is room for improvement: 

  • Pre-arrival communication with the resort (by email) was very slow. Response to my few, detailed questions often took many days. The resort should try to answer queries by email within 24 hours, as it may put off future guests.
  • Inside my suite, internet connection was slow; from time to time WiFi was unavailable.
  • The beachfront scenery is pure paradise during high tide. But the beach is far from attractive at low tide (the sea almost completely disappears). It is fun though to watch the stingrays and other marine life in the shallow areas.
  • While stunning on the inside after the $80 dollars refurbishment, the two main hotel wings are not attractive from the outside. They date from the previous century and are an eyesore IMHO.
  • The wildlife – especially birds – may annoy guests. Screeching cockatoos constantly do food raids at breakfast (and even inside rooms). Staff does a good job of shooing them without showing their frustration.
  • Marine stingers may be present in the waters of tropical Queensland year round, with the higher risk season during November to May. During this period, jellyfish are prevalent in the waters around the mainland, islands and have occasionally been found out on the reef (a protective suite must be worn when you enter the water).
  • Excursions to the Reef and Whitsunday Island are all done by plane or heli (not by boat), which may be problematic for those suffering from a fear of flying.
  • Excursion are very expensive, and cost a couple of hundred dollars more as compared to the same type of excursions that depart from Airlie Beach on the mainland (sometimes with the same company).
  • Bar 50 is soulless, as it is located in a very large and totally uninviting lounge area. It definitely lacks atmosphere (the resort needs to reassess this one).

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 9/10
  • Rooms: 10/10
  • Food: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: exceptional: 9,2/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: Read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the One&Only Hayman Island.
  • Save money: enjoy exclusive and complimentary VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade on arrival, daily continental breakfast, one island escapade for two, early check-in and late check-out).
  • Families with younger children may prefer to stay in the Hayman wing (which is closer to the family pool), while those traveling without children may be better off in the Pool wing, near the iconic pool.
  • Chances are substantial that you will be upgraded with a helicopter transfer to/from the resort, when you depart from (or leave to) Airlie Beach on the mainland (fewer guests depart from here, making a 10-minute heli flight a more economic transfer option for the resort as compared to a yacht that needs 2 hours to complete the return trip).
  • Transfers from the airport or mainland to the resort and food are expensive, so book a package inclusive of return transfers and (at least) breakfast.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

Best months to travel are probably September, October and November, as those months have minimal rain, are warm enough to swim and there are no stingers in the water. In summer (December to March), it gets very wet and you do not want to be stuck on a subtropical island with one week of heavy rain.  In April and May, marine stingers are still present, and while they disappear in the sunny and dry Australian winter months (from June on), those months may be a little too cold for swimming


HOW TO GET THERE

The most convenient way to get to Hayman Island is to fly to the Great Barrier Reef Airport (HTI) on Hamilton Island, which receives direct flights from all of Australia’s major cities, with onward connections to Asia, UK/Europe, North and South America and Africa. Transfer to One&Only Hayman Island is by luxury launch (50 minutes), or if preferred, by helicopter or seaplane (10 minutes). Check the Wikipedia page of the Great Barrier Reef Airport for an updated list of airlines that have direct flights to the Whitsunday Islands.

Alternatively, the resort can also arrange transfers from the mainland’s harbour village Airlie Beach or the mainland’s Whitsunday Coast Airport near Proserpine (PPP). Check the Wikipedia page of the Whitsunday Coast Airport for an updated list of airlines that have direct flights to the Proserpine, which is also one of the main getaways for travelers to and from the Whitsunday Islands.


HELICOPTER FLIGHT TO HAYMAN ISLAND

HELICOPTER FLIGHT TO HAYMAN ISLAND

HELICOPTER FLIGHT TO HAYMAN ISLAND

HELICOPTER FLIGHT TO HAYMAN ISLAND

HELICOPTER FLIGHT TO HAYMAN ISLAND

HELICOPTER FLIGHT TO HAYMAN ISLAND

RESORT LANDSCAPE

WELCOME TO ONE&ONLY HAYMAN ISLAND

RESORT LANDSCAPE: LANE TO LOBBY

RESORT LANDSCAPE: WALKWAY TO LOBBY

RESORT LANDSCAPE: LANE TO LOBBY

RESORT LANDSCAPE: WALKWAY TO LOBBY

RESORT LANDSCAPE: LANE TO LOBBY

RESORT LANDSCAPE: WALKWAY TO LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

LOBBY

RESORT LANDSCAPE

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT LANDSCAPE

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT LANDSCAPE

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT GROUNDS

RESORT GROUNDS

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

WATERSPORT CLUB AT BEACH

WATERSPORT CLUB AT BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH AT LOW TIDE

BEACH AT LOW TIDE

BEACH AT LOW TIDE

BEACH AT LOW TIDE

BEACH AT LOW TIDE

BEACH AT LOW TIDE

RESORT SHOP

RESORT SHOP

GYM

GYM

BAR 50

BAR 50

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL: BAR

HAYMAN POOL: BAR

HAYMAN POOL: CABANAS

HAYMAN POOL: CABANAS

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL CABANA

HAYMAN POOL CABANA

HAYMAN POOL WITH POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL WITH POOL WING

POOL SUITES AT POOL WING

POOL SUITES AT POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL BAR

HAYMAN POOL BAR

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

HAYMAN POOL & POOL WING

SUN LOUNGERS AT HAYMAN POOL

SUN LOUNGERS AT HAYMAN POOL

SUNSET

SUNSET

SUNSET

SUNSET

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

BEACH-FRONT FAMILY POOL

FAMILY POOL BAR

FAMILY POOL BAR

FAMILY POOL BAR

FAMILY POOL BAR

HAYMAN WING

HAYMAN WING

ENTRANCE TO HAYMAN WING

ENTRANCE TO HAYMAN WING

HAYMAN WING LOUNGE AREA

HAYMAN WING LOUNGE AREA

ROOM ENTRANCE

ROOM ENTRANCE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE: WELCOME LETTER

HAYMAN SUITE: WELCOME LETTER

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN SUITE

HAYMAN WING

HAYMAN SUITE: VIEW FROM TERRACE

HAYMAN SUITE: VIEW FROM TERRACE

HAYMAN SUITE: VIEW FROM TERRACE

HAYMAN SUITE: VIEW FROM TERRACE

HAYMAN SUITE: VIEW FROM TERRACE

TOILETRIES

ROOM TOILETRIES

ROOM TOILETRIES

ROOM TOILETRIES

ROOM TOILETRIES

ROOM TOILETRIES

PILLOW MENU

PILLOW MENU

SUNSET

SUNSET

PACIFIC RESTAURANT

PACIFIC RESTAURANT

PACIFIC RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

PACIFIC RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

PACIFIC RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST AT TERRACE

PACIFIC RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST AT TERRACE

PACIFIC RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

PACIFIC RESTAURANT: BREAKFAST

WILDLIFE AT BREAKFAST

WILDLIFE AT BREAKFAST

POOLSIDE HAMBURGER

POOLSIDE HAMBURGER

POOLSIDE CAESAR'S SALAD

POOLSIDE CAESAR’S SALAD

AMICI RESTAURANT

AMICI RESTAURANT

AMICI RESTAURANT

AMICI RESTAURANT

AMICI RESTAURANT: DINNER

AMICI RESTAURANT: DINNER

AMICI RESTAURANT: PIZZA

AMICI RESTAURANT: PIZZA

AMICI RESTAURANT: DINNER

AMICI RESTAURANT: DINNER

BAMBOO RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT: RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT: RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT: RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT: RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT: RESTAURANT

BAMBOO RESTAURANT: RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT

FIRE RESTAURANT: DINNER

FIRE RESTAURANT: DINNER

FIRE RESTAURANT: DINNER

FIRE RESTAURANT: DINNER

FIRE RESTAURANT: DINNER

FIRE RESTAURANT: DINNER

SUNSET

SUNSET

SUNSET

SUNSET

FLYING FOXES AT SUNSET

FLYING FOXES AT SUNSET

BIRTHDAY PRESENT

BIRTHDAY PRESENT

BIRTHDAY PRESENT

BIRTHDAY PRESENT

LEAVING HAYMAN ISLAND BY LAUNCH

LEAVING HAYMAN ISLAND BY LAUNCH

LEAVING HAYMAN ISLAND BY LAUNCH

LEAVING HAYMAN ISLAND BY LAUNCH

LEAVING HAYMAN ISLAND BY LAUNCH

LEAVING HAYMAN ISLAND BY LAUNCH


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2 Comments on Hotel review: One&Only Hayman Island (Australia)

  1. Great review. I would love to go to one of the islands off QLD and dive over the reef. Amazing place. It’s on my list. Great tips too by the way.

    Like

  2. Awesome reviews very thorough with tips as well. Will be going in a yer or so. Love the whole atmosphere with the different parts of the hotel, suites too.

    Like

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Report: One&Only Hayman Island Great Barrier Reef: pros & cons - FlyerTalk Forums
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