Hayman Island has a long history of being one of Australia’s top luxury destinations with international recognition. As a tiny island located at the most northern part of the Whitsundays, Hayman got a beating when Cyclone Debbie passed through in 2017.
Since then, international luxury hotelier InterContinental has stepped in and together with the owners of Hayman; the island has undergone a two-year-long 100+ million dollar renovation.
Is the final result worth the wait and has Hayman Island regained their luxury destination status after opening in July 2019? Let’s jump into the InterContinental Hayman Island review!
Booking Our Stay
I booked the InterContinental Hayman Island as part of the 2020 New Year Sale which offers up to 35% off room rates for IHG members. While it’s free to become a member, I hold InterContinental Platinum Ambassador status which has some handy features such as guaranteed upgrade, guaranteed 4PM checkout and a few extras (you can learn more about it here).
Thanks to the sale, rooms were an acceptable $435 per night (typically rates are around $600-700). Conveniently, American Express was running a cashback offer which enabled me to get $100 cash back on a spend of $400 or more at IHG hotels — nice!
While the rates aren’t exactly cheap; this is a luxury hotel after all in a stunning location which also happens to be a conveniently short flight (and luxury boat ride) away from Brisbane!
My room rate also included a return transfer from Hamilton Island, so this is something worth enquiring about (check the package pricing on the website). If you don’t get a package, a one-way boat transfer is AU$210 per adult.
The InterContinental Hayman Island is a comfortable (and luxurious) 50 minute boat ride from the closest airport on Hamilton Island. The boat transfer is the cheapest, but if you want to arrive in style, seaplanes and helicopters are also on offer.
- Luxury Vessel: AU$210 per adult one way, AU$110 per child (4-16) one way
- Helicopter: AU$700 for 2 people one way
- Seaplane: AU$1,200 for up to 5 people one way.
The resort does offer a lot of package prices which includes the transfer, so make sure you check those out before booking! In my case, the package price, including transfer was only $270 more compared to the best sales price.
Upon landing in Hamilton Island, we were greeted by the InterContinental airport team who took care of our luggage and invited us to board the luxury catamaran docked some 50 meters from the airport terminal — convenient!
Upon boarding, we were greeted by the friendly staff with a glass of sparkling wine. Considering there are only a few daily flights to Hamilton Island, the chances of having to wait for a transfer to Hayman are very slim, so for most guests the boat will be waiting and ready to go as soon as your luggage has been collected. In case you do have to wait, InterContinental has a lounge at the airport for guests.
A few minutes into our journey to Hayman Island, the staff onboard completed the check-in process and offered some canapés and of course, another glass of wine.
With all the formalities out of the way, upon our arrival we were whisked away in a golf buggy en route to our room which is a quick ride through the tropical jungle surrounding the resort. Our concierge Steph was fantastic and offered a tour around the resort to learn about the hotel and facilities.
Back in our room, we had been upgraded from the base category “Retreat King” to a stunning “One Bedroom Pool Ocean View Suite”. While it’s possible you too are upgraded to a suite, it’s important to note (full disclosure) that even though I paid for my stay, the hotel marketing team did know I was staying, so the triple upgrade (while much appreciated) is probably not the regular procedure for Platinum Ambassador guests.
The room interior is spot on, and although it fits perfectly with the “luxury island” theme, it’s also a familiar vibe if you’ve stayed at some of the newer InterContinental hotels around the world.
Our spacious suite featured a dining table, a living room with a comfortable sofa and lounge chairs overlooking the pool and ocean. Adjacent to the living room is the bedroom featuring a huge (and extremely comfortable) four-poster king bed. I’m also happy to report that the pillows (I’m a pillow snob) are high quality and very comfortable.
If the pillows provided aren’t your thing; no problem! InterContinental Hayman Island has a handy pillow menu which you can access via the iPad — which also acts as a room control device and a central hub for any services you might need.
To the right of the bedroom is a huge open plan bathroom with double vanities leading into the wardrobe and onto the shower and toilet. Of course, a luxury hotel isn’t complete without a huge bathtub, and the InterContinental Hayman Island doesn’t fail here either.
Both the bedroom and living room have a spacious balcony overlooking the poolside of the hotel, and of course there are the unbeatable views of the ocean and neighbouring islands.
The InterContinental Hayman Island still features the same structural hallmarks from the previous resort, which definitely gives it a retro vibe (I like it). However, every aspect of the interiors has been completely redesigned and is very modern.
The resort is made up of 3 wings, the Pool Wing (this is where we stayed), Beach wing (this area has the most coveted rooms with direct beach access and private plunge pool) and the Lagoon Wing. The last being considered most “child” friendly since the lagoon features shallow water. On the poolside of the resort, guests can book rooms with direct pool access — you can literally jump from your bed into the pool!
At the lagoon side of the hotel is also the infinity pool (stunning) which bends right into the ocean behind it. Comfortable cabanas make this the ideal place for a lazy day. It’s also countered to Bam Bam (Asian inspired restaurant and pool bar) which conveniently serves drinks and food to guests at the pool as well.
Right behind the infinity pool is the primary beach access. Here you can also participate in complimentary water sport activities. These include: kayaks, hobby cats (so much fun, even if you’re a novice sailor), stand up paddleboards and more.
On the poolside of the hotel, you will find another pool bar in the middle of what is the largest swimming pool in the southern hemisphere. The outer layer of the pool is saltwater, and in the middle you will find a smaller pool with regular chlorinated water.
There are also private cabanas which face the ocean; these are perfect if you want to get some shade, privacy and a stunning view.
Next to the pool, there’s access to the adults-only side of the beach. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy views over the bay and surrounding islands.
In the centre of the hotel you will find the reception, activities lounge (which features a golf simulator for those rainy days) and the hotel’s restaurants which are Amici (Italian), Pacific (Australian) and Bam Bam (Asian) — more on these later.
The whole resort is designed for a semi-outdoor experience. However, you can navigate the whole place undercover; this is the tropics after all.
On top of the hill and a 5-minute buggy ride away is Hayman Estates. These are a collection of luxury villas, some privately owned, others part of the InterContinental hotel. The 4 bedroom villas start around $8,000 per night and come with the most incredible island views.
Activities & Water Sports
The best things in life are free, and so are the non-motorised water activities on Hayman! Head to the beach and grab yourself a hobby cat, stand up paddleboard or kayak and head out on the water. Winds pick up in the afternoon, so I highly recommend getting a hobby cat; it’s great fun.
Apart from water sports, there are also a few other complementary activities, and paid ones as well. There are also tennis, futsal and squash courts which are complimentary.
There’s also a trail which goes around most of the Island; it’s roughly a 12km loop which will lead you to some great lookouts and picturesque bays where you can snorkel and discover the fringe reefs around the island.
Although I can’t speak from personal experience, the resort is family-friendly and a kids club is available throughout the day (extra charge). The InterContinental Haymand island also offers babysitting services; which is convenient!
Diving & Snorkelling
Marine activities including diving, snorkelling and motorised water sports are organised by an external company called Ocean Dynamics.
We did a full day of diving (2 dives) and snorkelling which was rather expensive at $805 for 2 people (1 person diving + 1 person snorkelling). While the staff and equipment are great, the locations they took us were underwhelming to say the least.
I was expecting to have at least one dive at The Great Barrier Reef, but for some reason, they only took us to a nearby bay with terrible visibility on the day (2-3m max). We found that the complimentary snorkelling around the bays of Hayman Island was much more fun with excellent visibility and plenty of marine life.
Dining & Drinks
InterContinental Hayman Island has an excellent selection of dining options. We were impressed with the quality and presentation of the food at all the venues, however my personal favourite was Amici Trattoria.
As you might have guessed, Amici is an Italian restaurant, and this was my favourite dinner location on the Island. Prices are reasonable considering you’re in a remote location and the food was outstanding. My favourites here were the Moreton Bay Bug pasta and the grilled octopus. The negronis were also superb but on the expensive side, clocking in at $29. The other wines on offer are reasonably priced with bottles starting around the $75 mark.
Pacific restaurant is modern Australian, so if you’re after a good steak, this is the place to be. The restaurant boasts stunning views over the bay so it’s well worth a visit just before the sun goes down so you can enjoy the views with a cold drink.
Pacific also doubles as the breakfast location on the island. All guests receive complimentary buffet breakfast which is an extensive affair starting at 6:30 AM and finishing at 10:30 AM. The buffet has an excellent variety of food, with both hot and cold items on offer. Barista coffee is also complimentary, and it’s excellent! This is Australia after all, where automatic coffee machines are considered a sin.
Bam Bam is a fun and more casual Asian inspired restaurant which also doubles as a poolside bar (it’s right next to the infinity pool). The decor and views are beautiful, and the food is also spot on. There’s a snack menu if you’re not that hungry (try the deep-fried zucchini — amazing) and a more extensive menu which is great for a more casual dinner.
Aqua is Hayman’s poolside bar and offers a range of drinks, cocktails and ice pops to beat the heat. The bar also has a menu of easy to share dishes, but we mainly enjoyed the poolside drinks and service — the fresh coconuts are a must!
Grove Boutique & Cafe
Right next to the gym is Grove Boutique, a small shop where you can buy snacks, wine and a coffee to go throughout the day. They also stock essentials such as sunscreen and a few other souvenirs.
If you’re after something special, the concierge team can organise private dining events on the beach, inside the private cabanas or there’s also a private dining room for larger parties up to 16 people.
InterContinental Hayman Island has one of the biggest and well-equipped hotel gyms I’ve ever seen. It’s extensive!
There are also classes in the morning, such as a beach bootcamp, boxing or barre classes. These were great, but we initially thought it was a complimentary activity. However, we later realised the cost was $25 per person. Still worth it but I would like to see the hotel advertise this cost more upfront.
Spa & Wellness
The InterContinental Hayman Island features 11 treatment rooms at the spa with a plunge pool and sauna to relax in before or after your treatment.
Treatments on offer are in collaboration with Sodashi Skincare which is a Western Australian brand focused on vegan and natural products.
Staff & Service
It’s interesting to note that staff on the island (350+) outnumber the guests and that’s a good thing! From the moment we landed until the moment we departed, everything was looked after and nothing was a problem for the InterContinental Hayman Island team. It’s great to see an international brand like InterContinental bring together a range of hospitality professionals from around the world and from around Australia! I really couldn’t fault the service during our stay.
InterContinental Hayman Island In Conclusion
The most important question is: would I visit again? This answer is yes, for sure! Hayman Island is the proof that luxury resorts in Australia are worth your time and especially if you’re on the East Coast, it’s a no brainer if you’re looking for a tropical getaway.
For international visitors, InterContinental Hayman Island is a showcase of Australian luxury hospitality in a fantastic location.