Like other singletons, I watched Julia eat, pray and love her way through Italy, India and Indonesia. Sure, there's Paris – a love portal that promotes happy endings.
After all, it was by the Eiffel tower that Big finally declared that Carrie was The One. Then, there's Venice and the Bahamas… blah, blah, blah. Romantic destinations for honeymooners, smug couples and those who believe upping their frequent flyer miles means upping the romance factor.
But in my search for finding the perfect backdrop to work on my single status - I realised that nestled within Australia's own backyard lays a glittering constellation of 74 islands that calmly rival the sexiness of Mykonos and the showiness of Barbados.
Home to one of the world's best (Whitehaven) beaches? Check. An island shaped in the form of an actual heart for die-hard romantics? Check, Check. Bags were packed. I was headed to qualia in the Whitsundays.
Qualia: For some it's carbs, for others its diamonds, for me: it's qualia. And just like, “it's Chanel,” or “I got it at Tiffany's,” and “it's a Birkin”, qualia must be name-dropped at every turn.
It was an experience that had to be shared, so this time I bring along a plus one. Only two months of dating means it's still early enough for sizzle, but qualia was going to inject serious steam.
Once I confirmed it was place that boldly declared: “your every wish is catered for” – my plus one was on the next flight. Put simply, qualia is a world-class, 5-star fortress that proudly sits on the secluded northern-most tip of Hamilton Island. In other words, it attracts every A-lister, V.I.P. and person who matters. I couldn't believe they let us in.
Our freestanding north-facing Windward pavilion is, well, a pavilion – four times the size of an actual hotel room.
We're met with champagne, a fruit platter, cheese (the expensive kind) and Swiss chocolate. I suddenly channel my inner Pretty Woman as I run from room to room, taking in my surrounds: a sprawling studio, shaded by eucalyptus and palms, with polished timber floors and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that show off the 360 degree beauty of Hamilton Island (yes, with views from every window).
The only thing that draws us out of our sea-view room, is the outside. From the north-facing sundeck, to the private infinity-edged plunge pool. In an instant, we've taken the actual plunge and sip champagne from the pool, all the while taking in the breath-taking views of the Coral Sea.
The entire qualia experience is a blur of V.I.P. luxury. So much of a blur that your relationship becomes anything you want. We can decide how serious or playful we want to be at each moment.
From deciding which of the two pools we will luxuriously lap in, to the two restaurants that cater for casual dining to a fine feast. We have eyes only for one thing when we are seated at the Long Pavillion restaurant: the peking duck that is served in our sumptuous degustation, that has us drunk with heady pleasure.
Later we head to spa qualia, which is as intensely pleasurable as it sounds. We're booked into a couples rooms and are informed that we'll be having a full-body massage using LI'TYA premium products which "integrate indigenous modalities, utilising precious extracts from the Australian earth and pure botanicals".
Throw in organic Australian native plants, pure essential oils and no artificial fragrances. I am already so seduced by the words, that it feels like the actual massage is just a bonus.
\I suddenly am overcome by the need to obtain a tattoo from Bali with these kindred words.
As we giggle from underneath our towels, we realise that we've never reached this level of pleasure in the short two months we've been together. I can only imagine what a spa qualia massage could do for couples who need the blood to flow back through their relationship. If you want to turn up the heat, you come to qualia.
It's not just accommodation – it's an experience that is going to forever lodged in your relationship history. It will be known as “that time we stayed at qualia”. But best of all - it made a certain plus one my boyfriend. Au revoir singledom. Hello smug coupledom.
Word Count: 716
Author: Anna Tsekouras
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