The concept of a ‘tropical island getaway’ is a little tired these days. Especially if you’re Australian. We live in a country where popping down to the servo for milk and bread means bypassing some of the world’s most beautiful and natural wonders, that’s why when something truly special comes along, attention is due. Enter One&Only Hayman Island, a must-go for all Magnificent Bastards. Here’s why.
Landing in Hamilton Island what is apparent within in seconds is the temperature. At this time of the year, although overcast, you’ll be quickly ditching that brand new bomber jacket for something more short-sleeved, with a comfortable and lazy balminess of about 20-25 degrees.
Next is a luxury yacht transfer on the ‘Sun Goddess’ from Hamilton to Hayman where you’ll be wined and dined, but mostly plied with pink champagne until spotting a whale will make even the toughest of men giggle with delight.
On arriving at Hayman Island you’ll be whisked to your room by your very own ‘personal butler’. Yes, that’s right. No expense is spared in this case, and the chilled bottle of G. H. Mumm waiting for you only emphasises that sentiment.
My personal butler, Rebecca, seemed to monitor my every move and on more than one occasion would find me stuffing my face at lunch, or perched on a towel near the pool to tell me I had a massage booked in 30 minutes time. Talk about customer service.
If you’re lucky enough to score one of the Pool Suites, apart from the breathtaking and expansive view of One&Only’s crystal blue hexagonal Hayman pool from your private double balcony, you’ll be gasping at the room’s seriously slick interiors.
The bed, truly fit for a king, is complete with a luxe canopy and more decorative pillows than you can poke a stick at. Two TV’s provide plenty of mindless indulgence and a huge living room with plush textured furnishings means entertaining is definitely on the cards. The bathroom, however, is really where the magic happens. A massive bath, two basins, plenty of reflective surfaces and some seriously flattering lighting will have you looking and feeling sharp whether you’re stumbling in after a few too many poolside cocktails, or prepping for a day at the beach.
When it comes to eating at One&Only Hayman Island, think less ‘dude food’ and more fine dining with a huge range of restaurants offering everything from Pan-Asian specialities to family-friendly Italian favourites.
Poolside Aquazure is perfect for lunch – perhaps a fresh prawn caesar salad with a glass of crisp Semillon – while Bamboo is better for late night Asian delights – the Toothfish, followed by banana fritters for dessert is a must. Keen on carb-loading? Look no further than One&Only’s Amici restaurant. Authentic Italian-style pizza and pasta, and of course, plenty of red wine is the perfect hangover cure. We recommend the Spaghetti Ai Fruitti Di Mare with a hearty glass of the Ninth Hill Pinor Noir, and the cheeky salt and oil-encrusted Foccacia to really line your stomach in foodie style.
Breakfast is served daily at Pacific. It’s a buffet, but before you start picturing screaming kids and cold scrambled eggs, humour us. It’s location (practically on the beach) is enough to get most tongues wagging, but the food offering is pretty spectacular as well. Everything from freshly poached eggs to potato rosti, bagels and sweet treats are on offer – plus extremely strong coffee for those who need a little help waking up.
If boozing up and winding down is on the agenda, On The Rocks takes you back to the hexagonal pool and Bar Fifty offers a laidback Hamptons-style scene for an exquisite cocktail or two. If you haven’t reached full-blown Insta-fame by this point, time is running out.
Luckily, if the weather has gone tits up while you’re on Hayman Island there’s plenty you can do indoors. The One&Only spa is the perfect place to achieve true relaxation, whether you’re rebalancing your chakras in the sauna and plunge pool, renewing your spirit in the spa’s steam room or going for a totally decadent 60-minute Swedish massage.
If there’s a special occasion that has brought you to the island, One&Only’s hair salon is a great option. A quick wash and trim might be all you need to feel pampered during your stay, or perhaps an award-winning pedicure by French podiatrist to the stars, Bastien Gonzalez.
If you’re itching to get out and about, however, One&Only Hayman Island does not disappoint when it comes to outdoor activities for the Bear Grylls in all of us. There’s diving and snorkelling on offer, beachfront catamaran sailing, windsurfing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking as well as water-skiing and wakeboarding for the real adrenalin junkies.
The Main Event
Last weekend D’Marge was invited to stay at Hayman Island One&Only for An Appetite for Paradise, the first of two VIP culinary escapes available to MasterCard holders as part of Priceless Cities, an initiative that gives cardholders access to unique experiences in over 40 priceless destinations globally.
In honour of the occasion, Australia’s most awarded chef and the brains behind Rockpool, Neil Perry, and his award-winning team, hosted an exclusive five-course degustation dinner that featured everything from locally-sourced Marron to Steamed Coral Trout and Charcoal Cooked Duck Breast along with some of Australia’s best wine.
During his time on Hayman Island, D’Marge had the chance to sit down with Chef Neil Perry in the midst of his culinary craziness to chat everything food and travel.
KV: Where is the best place to get food off the beaten track?
NP: There’s a Chinese place next door to the Courthouse Hotel in Cairns called Taste of China, it was so good I wish it was in Sydney…a nice little discovery for me.
KV: Why do you think Hayman Island is such an amazing culinary escape?
NP: The One&Only guys are focused on luxury experiences, you’ve got an island where a 10 minute boat ride will take you to the reef, or an island with an amazing turtle sanctuary. You can go jet skiing, sea bobbing, fishing and then come back and have an amazing choice of restaurants and pools. It’s an ‘anything goes’ holiday where you can lie by the pool and chill out, or be an action man if you want….one of the guilty pleasures of having time.
KV: What would you consider to be the most priceless city in the world?
NP: A city I love is Tokyo. The food is extraordinary. You can eat poorly everywhere in the world, but I’m not sure you can eat poorly in Tokyo. Whether it’s a bowl of noodles, sushi or sashimi, the restaurants are so focused, everybody concentrates on beautiful ingredients. There’s great galleries, walking and shopping, and you’re sort of in the same time zone.
KV: What’s on your bucket list?
NP: I really want to get to South America. I’m keen to get to Argentina, Peru and Chile and experience the food – the beef and fire.
KV: What’s next for you?
NP: I don’t really consider myself to be a chef anymore, although it is part of my life, day-to-day I’m running a business with 1,000 staff. I like to think of it as a sportsman – I was a player, then a captain, the captain’s coach, the manager and now I’m the owner.
I have a great relationship with my staff, I delegate and trust them implicitly. Me and my business partner Trish are all about being sustainable, in terms of produce but also sustainable people, so we don’t burn them out.
KV: How do you like to relax and unwind?
NP: I love skiing, but I also just love eating beautiful food and having a great bottle of wine with family and friends. We cook well at home, we eat at my restaurants and we eat all around the world.
Sounds like the key to happiness is rather simple, then.
Missed out on MasterCard’s An Appetite for Paradise at One&Only Hayman Island? Fear not. Venturing on from the Whitsunday’s to a relaxing retreat in the NSW Greater Blue Mountains, the second exquisite event will take place at Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley this November.