What do Elton John, Leonardo DiCaprio and Taylor Swift all have in common? You guessed it… LOADS of money, which they just happen to like to splash on luxury stays in Queensland.
It’s not hard to see why the world’s rich and famous have been lured, though. Combining World Heritage-listed locations with premier accommodation, the sunshine state is a high roller’s playground made up of hidden pieces of paradise and exclusive-use only destinations.
While most of us mere mortals can only dream of securing even an overnighter at one of these first-class locales, if you’ve got the mula to match the price tag, we’ve got the holiday goods to deliver.
Make it rain secluded islands and private infinity pools with this list of Queensland’s best luxury hotels and resorts.
Sheraton Mirage Resort | Port Douglas
Two words: Leo DiCaprio.
Now ladies before packing your bags we should mention since bae’s last visit there’s been some serious sprucing to ‘Port’s’ iconic resort that’s even more impressive than its famous clientele.
Thanks to a whopping $43 million dollar refurbishment you’ll now find private pool cabanas, two hectares of revamped saltwater lagoons (accessed directly from your own balcony) and beautiful new interiors teeing off against the already stellar golf course and position right on Four Mile Beach… not too shabby, right?
And if you want to fill your days with more than just the swim-up pool bar menu, you’ve got the reef and rainforest on either side to play with. Try this 48-hour Port Douglas itinerary if you plan on squeezing in the lot during your weekend rendezvous.
Silky Oaks Lodge and Healing Waters Spa | Mossman
You can’t help but feel lustrous after a stay at Silky Oaks Lodge and Healing Waters Spa. From its restful location in the World Heritage-listed Daintree Rainforest to the ancient spa techniques used to nurture body and spirit, this is a place where time ticks to nature’s clock.
Slow down and rest easy in your rainforest treehouse, moving only to dine on seasonal local produce over the Mossman River or unwind with a signature spa ritual. When you want to up the tempo, complimentary activities like guided walks, river canoes and yoga give you the opportunity to connect with the lodge’s natural surroundings.
Lizard Island | near Cairns
Not even two cyclones can keep this bad boy down, and since re-opening in 2015 after a cool $45million refurb, Lizard Island has come back on the luxury radar tenfold with 40 dreamy suites nailing understated beach-chic with latte-coloured tones and casual elegance.
But it’s not just the decor that’s given it status as one of National Geographic‘s Unique Lodges of the World. As Australia’s northernmost island resort on the Great Barrier Reef – accessed exclusively by private charter from Cairns – you’ve got one of the seven natural wonders of the world right at your doorstep.
Take your pick from the island’s 24 powdery-white beaches, grab some snorkel gear, and presto – not only do you have yourselves a private picnic spot, but a secluded portal to clam gardens and coral reefs just a fin’s flip away (sans flocks of tourists vying for the same look).
Palazzo Versace | Gold Coast
Fashionistas, welcome to your Eden at the home of one of the most legendary brands known to (wo)man.
Stepping into the Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast is like entering another world; the Versace world, where everything oozes glamour and sophistication from the bespoke Italian furnishings adorning the suites (marble bathrooms and ceilings hand-detailed in gold, anyone?) to the famed Aurora Spa Retreat and country’s first Water Salon.
When you want to bring the Versace experience back to its roots, you need only pop down to the lobby level where the in-house boutique dlivers the latest ready-to-wear accessories and runway collections.
Spicers Peak Lodge | Brisbane’s Scenic Rim
To say Spicers Peak Lodge is at the height of luxury is not only figuratively accurate but literally as well, perched on a mountaintop in the Scenic Rim and claiming the title of Australia’s highest non-alpine lodge.
Although you’re only 90 minutes from Brisbane, you’ll feel delightedly isolated from the hustle of city life thanks to the 10,000 acres of wilderness surrounding you (we’re talking rugged mountain escarpments, untouched rainforest, and a World Heritage-listed national park on the fringes).
Inside, this atmosphere is echoed by century-old Scottish bluestone, recycled wide timber floorboards and natural tones, complemented by open fireplaces and uninterrupted views over the range.
While it’s tempting to hole up in your suite or private lodge, emerging only to indulge in a massage at Spa Anise or dine at the two Chef Hats-awarded Peak restaurant, remember there’s a whole world out there to explore, so take advantage of the walking trails, mountain bike adventures, and discovery tours at your disposal.
Bedarra Island | near Mission Beach
If you haven’t already
heard read our praises of this tropical haven here, here, and here, then allow me to give you a quick re-cap.
Bedarra is an all-inclusive island resort off the coast of Mission Beach home to only nine luxury villas hiding amongst 45 hectares of rainforest.
Famed for its seclusion (with a maximum of 18 guests at any time), it’s a place where you’re more likely to run into a fish instead of another human being as you gallivant around the island in your dinghy/stand-up paddle board/sea kayak – all free to use at your whim and leisure.
Here, your luxury escape is what you make of it, whether that be private picnics on nearby deserted islands or scuba diving on the outer Great Barrier Reef. Heck, even if you stayed put in your villa the whole time the experience would be just as good (holla to private wet-edge pools).
Gilberton Outback Retreat | Einasleigh
It’s not often you would expect to find a five-star luxury hut in the middle of an 88,000-acre working cattle station, but that’s exactly what you’ll stumble upon at Gilberton Outback Retreat (around a 10-hour drive from Townsville or Cairns).
A tin shed on steroids, the exclusive abode is the epitome of rustic-luxe, handmade with local granite and sandstone, with mozzie nets draping a king four-poster bed and a freestanding semi-outdoor bathtub with panoramic views over the Gilbert River.
During the day, put your adventure boots on and explore granite cathedrals and natural springs, or go back in time to the gold rush days panning for nuggets. Before nightfall, get the bathtub prepped for the best sunset of your life, taking advantage of your never-ending supply of bubbles (of the champers kind).
Rambutan | Townsville
SURPRISE! Rambutan isn’t actually a luxury hotel (but we had you fooled, no?). Believe it or not, it’s a backpackers hostel and a freakin’ swanky one at that.
Setting a new benchmark as Australia’s first ‘glam-packers resort’, Rambutan in Townsville is the stuff of budget luxury dreams, with private villas, boutique hotel rooms and stylish dorms that won’t break the bank when travelling.
Throw in a rooftop pool, bar and restaurant dishing out authentic smoky flavours from the American South, and you’ve got a taste of the high life, my nomadic friends.
The Star (Formally Jupiters Hotel & Casino) | Gold Coast
Already a magnet for high-rollers on the Gold Coast, the luxe-vibes of The Star Gold Coast (formally Jupiters Hotel and Casino) is set to become even better thanks to a $345 million transformation currently underway, which will soon see a new six-star luxury hotel tower finished at the site.
In the meantime, you’ve got the recently refurbed deluxe executive rooms with views over the GC skyline to keep you cosy, along with new restaurants – Kiyomi’s taste of Tokyo, Cucina Vivo’s traditional Italian favourites and the rooftop vibes of Garden Kitchen & Bar among them – and VIP poolside bungalows with your own private spa and deck.
Nightfall camp | Lamington National Park
If you think camping and luxury don’t belong in the same boat, then boy, are you in for a treat.
Stone bathtubs, fully-catered organic cuisine, and private rainforest views are just some of the perks you’ll find at nightfall camp. Set in the ancient Gondwana Rainforests in the Gold Coast Hinterland, this intimate glamping experience has completely redefined the term luxury through their hand-built, architect-inspired safari tents.
Limited to only six travellers at any time guarantees intimacy and privacy, but keep in mind you will need to book well in advance to secure your spot.
Spicers Clovelly Estate | Montville
L’amour on your mind? Prepare to be swept away in the romanticism of a European escape at Spicers Clovelly Estate.
Hidden in the rolling hills of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, the blend of old world charm and French influence sets a vibe that’s more Provencal countryside than ‘half an hour from the beach’.
Driving through the entrance, you’ll pass 22 acres of grounds filled with grand figs, shaded jacarandas and groves of magnolias and gardenias, before arriving at the main house.
From here, you’ll be whisked away to one of 10 exclusive suites, each designed with luxury and comfort in mind from the hand-selected coffee table books to the heated Carrara marble bathrooms.
Daintree EcoLodge and Spa | Daintree Rainforest
When real life has you itching to run away into the rainforest, point your GPS towards Daintree EcoLodge and Spa.
Tucked within the oldest living rainforest in the world, the lodge combines nature and culture in the most blissful of settings, with 15 luxurious bayans (aka private tree houses) and a wellness spa integrating the wisdom of ancient Aboriginal medicine and healing in their treatments.
Our recommendation? Opt for a freshly renovated Rainforest Banyan designed with minimalist luxury in mind (because what better way is there to reconnect with nature than from the comfort of your deep black bathtub with uninterrupted forest views?).
Qualia | Hamilton Island
Ahh, qualia… the word itself has become synonymous with Australian luxury, bagging more awards than you can count on both hands and toes (most recently the title of Best Luxury Hotel and Resort in Australian Traveller’s 2016 People’s Choice Awards).
So why is it that holiday-goers the world over can’t get enough of it? Well, there’s the jaw-dropping Whitsundays location on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef, private pavilions with some serious bathtub game, and signature experiences like hot stone massages using 300-million-year-old stones. Add a golf club on its own freaking island, and you’ve got a sure-fire recipe for luxe #holidaygoals.
One&Only Hayman Island
Royalty among the luxury travel circuit, the One&Only resort brand has a worldwide rep for some of the most exclusive accommodation in the most exotic places.
Naturally, their Hayman Island location lives up to the name, nestled at the northernmost point of the Whitsundays archipelago in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.
Accommodation-wise, it’s like dying and going to hotel heaven, with beach villas perched on the edge of the Coral Sea, 24-hour penthouse butler service, and private swimming pools.
And let’s not forget one of the resort’s signature experiences: full-body massages, on a floating table, in the middle of the ocean. #micdrop
*One&Only Hayman Island is closed until June 2018.
The Feathered Nest | Mackay
There’s no need to rough it if you want to immerse yourself in nature during your Queensland vacay.
At The Feathered Nest near Mackay, the five-star rating goes beyond the attention to detail in their thoughtfully-designed retreats to their passion for environmental and wildlife conservation.
Sustainable practices are at the core of everything done here, and guests are invited not only to lap up their luxury bush-country digs in style, but to learn first-hand of their efforts to help conserve the endangered black cockatoo.
How? Why, from the comfort of your own room of course, where you’ll find a black-cockatoo aviary and pond wedged between your bathroom and private deck with heated infinity-edge pool.
Orpheus Island | near Townsville
According to Greek mythology, the name ‘Orpheus’ derives from the ancient musician and poet renowned for his ability to charm all living things from stones to Hades himself. Needless to say, its island namesake bears the same enchanting effect.
Upon heli arrival to Orpheus Island from Townsville or Cairns, you’ll be met with 11km of turquoise coastline dotted with 14 luxury rooms fringed by lush national park on one side and coral reefs on the other.
Given the location and Great Barrier Reef playground before you, it makes sense that passengers are restricted to just one duffel bag per person because all you’re going to need is your best beachwear (everything else from snorkel gear to organic LI’TYA bath amenities is taken care of).
If this travel restriction has you slightly on edge, the feeling is guaranteed to pass once you realise you’ve got unlimited use of water toys and a day spa worthy of literal salivation.
Still not convinced? Here are another 7 reasons why you need to holiday on Orpheus Island.
Some of the businesses listed above have been impacted by recent weather events in Queensland. Please make contact with the operator or visit their website for information regarding bookings and travel plans.