With overseas travel still well and truly off the cards (hell, even interstate travel is touch-and-go at this point), it’s time to set our sights on an adventure a little closer to home. Put that holiday nest egg to good use with a Sunshine State vacay guaranteed to take your breath away—and a sizable chunk of your savings with it. We’re talking luxury hotels, five-star suites, and tropical island villas designed to give you a taste of the luxe resort life, Queensland style. So pull out that (knock-off) designer handbag, and slide on a pair of those itty bitty sunnies celebs are obsessed with—2021 is the year to live it up in style.
Situated on the northernmost point of Hamilton Island, Qualia offers interrupted views of the Coral Sea and the surrounding islands. One of the best resorts in Queensland, this luxe tropical getaway will whisk you away to a quiet corner of nature hidden from the rest of the world. Relax and unwind in a sun-filled Leeward Pavilion, creatively designed to celebrate the memorable Whitsunday sunsets. Better still, wake to panoramic ocean views by booking a stay in one of QUalia’s Windward Pavilion. Whichever you choose, it’s hard to go wrong when you’re living in luxury.
Okay, we admit it, we’re starting with the obvious. But there was no way the W Brisbane wasn’t gonna make this list—from the moment you step through the doors you’ll feel like you’re in a luxury resort, not in the middle of the Brisbane CBD. This glamorous riverside hotel boasts incredible sights of the city from its sprawling pool deck, so you can dip in decadence while taking in the night life. The roomy suites are filled with stunning decor, so you can sneak in an Insta post from the comfort of your hotel room.
Mt Mulligan Lodge
Dig out your akubra and discover the outback at Queensland’s most iconic all-inclusive luxury outback accommodation. Mt Mulligan Lodge offers 16 spacious retreats overlooking a eucalyptus-fringed weir for that all-natural Aussie charm. The earthy-tones of the lodge’s plush linen, sisal rugs and lavish leather furniture mirror the hues found in the landscape outside. Take a dip in the deep outdoor bath on your own private verandah and watch your worries melt away. Yes, it does cost a mint—but so would that African safari you were planning on taking.
Gilberton Outback Retreat
Gilberton Outback Retreat is the perfect place for a digital detox—if you’ve got the coin to pay for it. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Gilbert River, this luxurious getaway offers uninterrupted panoramic views of the surrounding rugged landscape. All activities, meals and tours are inclusive, including their 4WD Buggy Safari and Gold Mining and Fossicking Tour. There’s plenty to see and do in the area; we recommend a trip to Cobbold Gorge, or an Outback Tour From Above. Retreat to your room to nibble on your complimentary welcome platter as you don a luxurious fluffy bathrobe and matching slippers.
Daydream Island Resort
When it comes to taking the holiday of your dreams, Daydream Island Resort has it in the bag. Located in the heart of the Whitsundays, a stay at Daydream is the perfect getaway to the Great Barrier Reef. Following a massive $140 million refurbishment, the resort’s bright and airy rooms are like a tonic for the soul, with all the modern touches you need to make life easy. Upon arrival, head straight for the day spa and unwind with a bespoke spa experience designed to soothe and invigorate.
Take your vacay to the next level with a stay in one of Hardy Reef’s Reef Suites—Australia’s first underwater accommodation on the Great Barrier Reef. Begin your journey with a high-speed cruise to Reefworld’s revamped pontoon, where you can swim, snorkel and dine in on a star-lit longtable dinner. Spend a magical night soaking up the sights of a marine wonderland before waking up to turtles swimming by your floor-to-ceiling windows. Take it from us—these suites give a whole new meaning to ‘room with a view’.
Orpheus Island Lodge
Located just north of Townsville, Orpheus Island Lodge offers a tropical escape surrounded by the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Their beachfront villas and open plan suites offer a contemporary island ambience right on the ocean’s edge. Alongside all the regular resort activity offerings, Orpheus gives guests the chance to explore the island’s surrounding beaches with their very own dinghy—complete with a chef-prepared picnic, of course. If you've got a couple of grand to spare, this is one to tick off the bucket list.
Lizard Island Resort
Lie back and relax on one of the 24 pristine powdery white private beaches of Lizard Island Resort—they're worth spending your savings on. Located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, the island is fringed by some of Australia’s most stunning coral formations, just steps from the beach. Enjoy secluded picnics on squeaky-soft sand, world class fishing or indulge in a luxurious treatment at their onsite spa. Wind down with a private beachside degustation dinner at sunset for a night you’ll never forget.
For those who love the great outdoors but not everything that comes with it, Nightfall Camp is sure to delight. Nightfall has pitched its luxury tents beside the crystal-clear waters of Christmas Creek and Queensland’s ancient Lamington National Park rainforests. Go bush in style with the help of a 360-degree roaring fireplace, two bathtubs, a shower, a kitchen, a lounge and a king-sized bed.The only thing missing? Phone reception—but trust us, you won’t miss it.
Bedarra Island Resort
Looking for a place to get away from it all? We’re pretty sure we’ve found the perfect spot. With just ten private villas nestled amongst 45 hectares of tropical rainforest, Bedarra promises guests solitude and privacy alongside breathtaking views over the sparkling waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Each villa offers a unique escape from civilisation, from private plunge pools to outdoor bathrooms and sprawling sundecks. Indulge in a 5-star dining experience with a candlelit dinner for two on your own private beach deck, or sample the chef’s exquisite menu with a meal at the open terrace restaurant. Either way, with food this good, you know you’ll be coming back for seconds. pack a chef-prepared gourmet hamper in your o
Looking for more local escapes to inspire your next vacay? Soak a weekend away at this new eco-friendly tiny house tucked away in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Image credit: Tourism & Events Queensland, Gilberton Outback Retreat, Qualia