One&Only Hayman Island

Author: Catherine Keenan
Photography: William Meppem

Here's news to warm those chilled by lashing winter winds. After a six-month closure and an $80 million refurb, Hayman Island is again welcoming guests to its sun-soaked, palm-fringed shores.

The northernmost island in the Whitsundays has become the first Australasian outpost of the luxury One&Only Resorts group, best known for The Palm in Dubai, Ocean Club in the Bahamas and Reethi Rah in the Maldives.

One&Only Hayman Island retains the cascading white rows of rooms with which Reg Ansett redefined Australian luxury in 1950s, and the famed Hayman pool. But it's added the family-friendly Aquazure Pool (almost - it's due for completion in late August); made over the public spaces, amenities and rooms; and reduced the number of rooms from 210 to 160. The wing lining the original pool is now all suites, each featuring a sitting room, four-poster bed and private wooden deck. You can dive straight into the water from the ground-floor suites.

The resort may have made its name with honeymooners, but all these years later it welcomes families. Private foyers allow rooms to interconnect in the Hayman wing and there are separate quarters for extended family members in the Kerry Hill-designed Beach villas.

Days spent snorkelling along the Great Barrier Reef can work up an appetite and the resort has five restaurants, with a sixth to come. They range from the signature Fire (think salt-crusted Victor Churchill tomahawk steaks for two and pan-fired Glacier 51 Toothfish) to Italian, pan-Asian and the laid-back On the Rocks in the middle of the Hayman pool.

Our tip? Seafood served "Under the Stars" in a poolside cabana, preferably as the sun sets, with matching champagnes and Petrossian caviar, if too much extravagance just isn't enough.

Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar fly direct to Hamilton Island from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Cairns. From there it's a 50-minute ride on the fast boat, Sun Goddess, with complimentary Pommery and smoked trout canap├ęs.

Check out the September 2014 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller (on sale on 21 August) for our travel feature on One&Only Hayman Island.

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