My poor long-suffering Bloke has a seriously stressful job. He works in a profession which is extremely exacting and demanding. I can’t begin to count the times he’s risen at four in the morning worrying about some aspect of his work and spent the next few hours hunched in the cold glow of his computer screen juggling details to a point of precision that the rest of us could never dream of. Of course, he has one of those hugely driven A-type personalities and relaxation is not one of the things he does well but Paradise Bay Resort, my last point of call during my recent time in the Whitsundays, is a spot that specialises in just that. This is a little corner of the world where there is no option but to go with the flow and I can’t wait to get him up there.
I’d become increasingly curious about Paradise Bay Resort whilst I was swanning around the Whitsundays, not least because no-one seemed to know much about it and, unlike my other destinations, my itinerary was tantalisingly short on detail about how I would get there and what I would find. My first surprise came when I discovered that the trip there involved a helicopter – not a mode of transport I’d ever experienced. My initial anxiety very quickly gave way to an almost infantile excitement that I think I successfully contained under a veneer of cool sophistication for the duration of my very short flight. It also helped that I managed not to squeal with delight at all.
The helicopter flight is necessary as there is no land or sea access for guests to this luxury eco-resort nestled in a little cove on Long Island in the Whitsundays. My first view of Paradise Bay Resort was breathtaking as the helicopter wheeled around the island, coming in to settle on the grass and my first impression was of the warmth and friendliness of the staff as they welcomed me with big smiles, refreshing towels and seemingly bottomless glasses of French champagne. Honestly, nothing says “special” quite like French champagne.
Paradise Bay Resort has been in existence for quite some years, but recently changed hands and was closed for an extensive refurbishment – in fact I was one of the first guests to experience their re-opening. Now that I’ve been to the region, I can tell you that the Whitsundays has an abundance of blissfully beautiful accommodation, all enjoying superb beaches, crystal-lucid water and wonderful service, but Paradise Bay just takes all of that and lifts it to the next level.
The resort is exclusive, in fact it can hold a maximum of only 18 guests at any one time, all of whom are housed in individual and luxuriously appointed eco-lodges. There are no telephones, virtually no mobile phone reception and no computers – therefore forcing cold-turkey communications withdrawal for your “indispensable” A-type professional (and social media-addicted food bloggers). What they offer in place of this is a level of service and relaxation I’ve never experienced before.
The management team of the delightful Sophie and Todd have been at the resort for nearly four years now and were both clearly born to work in hospitality. Their commitment to the comfort and ease of their guests is simply outstanding – and nowhere more clearly indicated than by the fact that, when the previous owners went into financial difficulties, they bankrolled the resort themselves until things became more financially stable.
Sophie generally presides over front-of-house matters, effortlessly and charmingly engaging the guests in friendly chat, but just as artfully knowing when that is not necessary or desired, while Todd works some very serious magic in the kitchen. Todd’s food is utterly exquisite and reflects his years of tuition under both French and Italian chefs while serving his apprenticeship in the Hunter Valley and the experience he later went on to gain running restaurants there himself.
The meals that come out of Todd’s kitchen use fresh produce sourced as locally as possible in all cases, with much of the fresh vegetables and herbs coming from their own garden and the fresh fish is bought from a local fisherman on Hamilton Island. Sophie’s skills are not limited to her charm and, although not formally a sommelier, she shows enormous talent in selecting just the precisely right wines to go with each meal.
The resort itself is surrounded by pristine wilderness on one side and the sparkling beach and ocean on the other – and the goal is to keep things just as unspoiled as they are. Paradise Bay is built on strong environmentally sensitive principles, with a keen eye to keeping it’s impact low and it’s existence as sustainable as possible. Before the resort’s construction, all introduced plants on the land were removed and replaced with regional native vegetation. The recycling of all materials is strictly adhered to, over 80% of the required power is generated by a large solar field, they catch their own water and both grey and black water waste are dealt with efficiently by an environmentally friendly BioCycle system.
All of this means that you can sit back and relax with a relatively clear conscience. As far as activity goes – well, it’s all up to you. You can enjoy a massage and spa treatment with the resident therapist, Cheryl who also conducts pre-breakfast yoga classes on the pool deck next to the infinity pool, or indulge in a cocktail or two whipped up by Sophie. If you are feeling particularly energetic you can choose to swim, snorkel, kayak, paddleboard, enjoy a cruise and a picnic around some secret Whitsunday locations with the island’s skipper or, alternatively, just lie around and read a book.
There’s nothing to worry about here in Paradise Bay, nothing you have to do and nowhere you have to be. My taste of this corner of the world was only for 24 hours, but I left feeling incredibly revived and rejuvenated – I can only imagine how great my worry-worn, tense and over-worked Bloke would feel after two or three days of this spoiling.