The property marks the first foray of the One&Only brand (known for its ultra luxe properties in Mexico, the Caribbean, the Maldives, Mauritius and the Middle East) into the Australian market. The logistics (and expense) of building on an island in the Whitsundays means that much of the original building remains the same, but it’s been given a complete overhaul and everything is effortlessly chic and sparkling new. While the physical refurb of the property was important to bring it up to One&Only’s high standards, it is the staff that are the resort’s biggest asset. One&Only prides itself on a high level of staff training, and it shows; the staff to guest ratio is very high and a smiling staff member is always just steps away.
I stayed in a new Pool Access Suite in the completely redesigned Pool Wing. These suites were previously two rooms and a fence blocked access to the water, but they’ve been upgraded to meet One&Only’s minimum room size requirements. The suite has a large deck leading out into the famous hexagonal pool (filled with water pumped directly from the ocean) and a huge bathroom separated only by a glass screen, so the whole room has a feeling of space and openness. Rooms in the Hayman Wing have also been expanded and refreshed with the same cool, breezy style, and the plush penthouses sit at the top. The Kerry Hill-designed beach villas are still there, though now they are open to families and can be extended with adjoining retreat rooms in the gardens behind.
The pool is Hayman’s most instantly recognisable feature, but those sharp angles have been softened with new cabanas and day beds. A second pool, next to the Aquazure restaurant, was yet to open when I was there, but it will be ready for summer and be a great spot for family swimming with a graded entry for kids. Of course, if you tire of those, there’s still the two kilometres of pristine beachfront.
Where to begin? How about with breakfast and a fresh juice in the oceanfront Pacific restaurant, before a relaxed lunch at On the Rocks in the centre of the pool (don’t go past the seafood platter), a few cocktails at Bar Fifty and then an elegant pop up dinner in a quiet corner of the resort? I was certainly well fed. Other dining options include the Asian-style Bamboo, casual Italian Amici, the open-air Aquazura or Fire on One, the swishest restaurant on the island.
I found it quite hard to tear myself from my plush bed (or the daybed on the deck, or a sun lounger by the pool…) but there is certainly plenty to do. The Great Barrier Reef is on your doorstep with the best snorkelling and diving in the country, or you can take a private charter to a deserted beach for an intimate picnic. Play golf at Australia’s only island course, Dent Island, learn to sail a catamaran or play a round of tennis. You can also splash some serious cash in the new store, stocked with the latest season pieces from Camilla, Seafolly and Jayson Brundson.
The spa & gym
Two big names have been brought onboard for the wellness facilities; Bastien Gonzalez in the spa and James Duigan in the gym. I was lucky enough to have a personal session with both. Bastien’s Pedi:Mani:Cure studio offers treatments more akin to podiatry than beauty and I left with my hands and feet feeling brand new (it even inspired me to stop biting my nails). The Bodyism gym is the first in the country and under the direction of James, known for his Clean&Lean programs and celebrity clients (think Elle MacPherson and a flock of Victoria’s Secret Angels). A morning beach fitness session had me feeling especially virtuous – though my legs were so sore the next day that I think it might be my last.