Hayman Island by InterContinental: An icon reborn
The winds of change were forced upon Hayman Island by InterContinental, and the result is a spectacular revival of an Australian icon, writes Sheriden Rhodes.
There are thousands of islands dotted off Australia’s spectacular coastline, but perhaps none as iconic as Hayman. The much-loved private island at the northernmost tip of Queensland’s Whitsundays has risen, phoenix-like, from the ashes wrought by successive cyclones. Following two multimillion dollar refurbishments, Hayman Island by InterContinental has arrived in spectacular fashion.
One thousand shades of blue juxtaposed against a postcard-perfect palm-fringed beach greet guests arriving via Hayman’s luxury catamaran – most seen discarding layers of now unnecessary clothing and donning designer shades. They’ve sipped Champagne and felt the sea breeze wash away their cares before even stepping foot on the island’s soft white sand.
Here, the sparkling hues of the infinity pool spill into the Coral Sea – itself an eye-popping colour not dissimilar to the famous Tiffany jewellery boxes. Rows of inviting sun lounges, breezy cabanas, a neutral colour palette interspersed with sunny splashes of yellow and aqua, and a warm welcome await.
The beauty of Hayman’s latest incarnation – impressive as it is, with a chic new beach house, new dining experiences, Planet Trekkers kids’ club, Hayman Spa and more – is that stays now take on a luxurious, unscripted mode.
General Manager Mark Eletr says Hayman is the embodiment of a luxury resort experience reimagined for the modern traveller. Regimented daily activity schedules have no place here. Rather, Hayman encourages guests to spend their days wafting from breakfast to the pool, to the spa, to dinner – without having to think.
“We want to expose people to things they haven’t seen in that traditional resort space, but also for guests to wake up and decide on a whim what they’d like to do. Perhaps they want to explore something they haven’t tried before – art, music or cooking. Or maybe they simply want a seafood platter on the beach, or the fish they’ve caught that morning served up as fresh sashimi for dinner. We’re not that big that we can’t go off script.”
When it comes to luxurious accommodation, the new-look Hayman offers 166 rooms across three distinct wings fronting the Coral Sea: Pool, Beach and Lagoon, plus a handful of private residences. The Pool Wing overlooking the instantly recognisable Hayman Pool (seven times Olympic size) offers ready access to the freshly minted, adults-only Coconut Grove; rooms are elegant, and some have direct pool access.
The Lagoon Wing overlooks the familyfriendly infinity pool and Bam Bam restaurant. The eight 120-square-metre Beach Villas, designed by the late lauded architect Kerry Hill, remain adults-only, housing open-air private pools, outdoor terraces and superb Coral Sea vistas. There are king-size beds, an ensuite with an island bath, separate indoor and outdoor showers, and spacious living spaces. Guests step through bi-fold doors straight onto the soft white sand of Hayman Beach.
Upping the luxe factor, meanwhile, is a chic new three-bedroom Hayman Beach House, offering 400 square metres of luxurious privacy. Inside, all three of its suites have their own plunge pool, master ensuite and oversized bathtub along with open-plan luxury island living space, alfresco entertaining area, private sun loungers and unobstructed beach access.
For larger groups and families wanting privacy with access to hotel services, the lavish and striking private residences sit invitingly on the hillside, with sweeping Coral Sea views.
New, too, are the resort’s terrific dining options. Wake up to poached eggs and avocado, a fresh juice and coffee in Pacific. Enjoy classic cocktails with a Hayman twist in the 1950s-styled Bar Fifty. Poolside you’ll find the breezy Aqua, a California-style beach bar dishing up share plates, oysters, seasonal salads and zesty ice pops. Handmade pasta, woodfired pizza and Italian vino is on the menu at contemporary Italian eatery, Amici Trattoria, while steamed dumplings, wok-fried noodles and Asianinspired cocktails are served up next to the infinity pool at Bam Bam.
A host of complimentary and signature experiences capitalise on the resort’s enviable position as the closest Whitsunday island to the Great Barrier Reef. There are diving excursions, guided hikes, snorkelling in Blue Pearl Bay and new bucket-list experiences.
Fancy a private Champagne picnic on Langford Island? No problem. Want to sit at the chef’s table during the chaos and excitement of dinner service? Can do. Or perhaps you’d like to see the glory of the Great Barrier Reef from the air, landing on the sweep of Whitehaven Beach? Hayman’s adventure team stands ready to fulfil your holiday dreams and then some.
Or maybe, like me, you’ll choose to do nothing. Reclining on a sun lounge, a book lying closed by my side, I watch sea eagles soar on the swirling wind and a windsurfer fly across the cerulean sea. In an increasingly busy world, having no place to be and no one expecting anything of me feels truly blissful.