We walked through the terminal to the resort kiosks. There was one for each hotel – One&Only Haymand Island, Qualia, Beach Club and around the corner from them, Reef View Hotel. We gave our names, received our baggage tags and waited for the bags to arrive. It was interesting to notice the level of service at each kiosk – O&O and Qualia providing cold water bottles plus cold towels, Reef View providing a bag tag and telling you to line up lol. Eventually, the baggage truck came into the waiting area, unhitched itself and everyone came forward to collect their respective bags. Once collected, we gave our bags to the driver driving us to the Reef View and got on board. It was a short 5 minute ride to the front of the hotel.
Lining up to check in. We had a 5 minute wait before being helped – we were given a package explaining everything about the resort and the island. Guaranteed check in was 2pm and since we arrived at the hotel at 11.30am, we were told that we would be given a call when our room was ready. We changed in the Arrival/Departure lounge into our pool gear and hung out by the pool.
12pm came around and I received a phone call that our Reef Suite room was ready. Yay! We picked up our keys from the front desk and headed up to our room. The bags would be brought up by the staff.
Around 5pm, we headed down to the beach. The water recedes in the evening so much that you can walk at least 100ft out and the water level will be around your knees. At the same spot in the afternoon, the water level would be at your shoulders or neck. We saw people walking out at least 200ft and this was where the snorkelling reef was.
We went into town that night to see what food was available and ended up getting fish and chips. The next morning, we hit up the Pool Terrace restaurant for breakfast. Its pretty standard fare every day and doesnt deviate – eggs, bacon, meats, rice, veggies, juice, coffee, fruits, cold stuff.
We went into town every day for lunch and dinner. While it was not cheap to buy, it was MUCH cheaper than the hotel itself. To put it in perspective, 8 chicken wings off the romm service menu cost $30 AUD. 10 chicken wings from the Fish&Chips joint in town cost $20 AUD. Yes, I get it – when you are on an island, you are subjected to the price mark up but there is expected mark up and then there is mark up to milk you out of every penny.
The Super League Triathalon made its stop on Hamilton Island during the time we were there. There were 3 days of races and was minor disruption in the town i.e. the road was used for the marathon portion of the race and it prevented people from driving golf carts through the town. Bus service was also disrupted where it took a longer route to get to town. If the bus left from the hotel and you chose to walk to town, you would reach the town at the same time as the bus. There are a variety of restaurants (sit down and take out) and other stores in town, a general store and even a post office. We stuck to getting food from the Fish & Chips shop and the Bakery.
The only dive shop on the island meaning no competition meaning they could charge whatever they wanted. Their price for one dive is equivalent to two dives elsewhere. This was the consensus amongst other divers who were with me but we understood the reasons. Besides, I did not coming all the way to Australia to not dive on the Great Barrier Reef. 🙂
The weather for the first three days of our stay was absolutely amazing – perfect sunshine and heat. The last day was pure thunder showers. While I was away diving, Mrs.I was stuck in the room due to the rain – she had intended to go to the beach but it was a wash out.
Our 4 days at the Reef View was amazing and the poor weather on the last day did not do anything to dampen the experience. The staff were friendly and always helpful along with the service.
There are minor niggles about the experience such as:
– Room is showing signs of age.
– Extra costs like food and excursions can be high but there are ways to work around it.
– Walking into town at night can be cumbersome due to poor street lighting.
– Communicating with the excurions desk ahead of our stay was dreadfully slow to the point where they could not book me on my requested timeslot. This was coupled with the fact that they charged me for someone else’s excursion and it was by pure luck that I checked my credit card balance online. They did acknowledge the error though, refunded me the amount plus the foreign exchange fees.
Again, these hiccups did not dampen our mood while staying on the resort. A week after we left, Cyclone Debbie the Queensland and this included the Whitsunday Islands. I checked the Hamilton Island website and there was a message on their main page indicating that they were welcoming guests back as of April 8th. So judging by that message, it does look like they were hit but not as extensive as other areas. My thoughts go out to the families living in the area and hope they get back on their feet soon.
Next up – Sydney