Lest you think that cat pictures dominate the internet, this week the Queensland, Australia Instagram account is being managed by a dog. Jester is a six-month old Weimaraner from Hamilton island (close to the Great Barrier Reef), and he is kicking off a new campaign to show Queensland from a local’s perspective. Jester will be snapping photos until September 15, but you can also follow him @jestergull after his week is up. Each week the photo stream will be managed by a local in a different region, look out for photographer Nathan White on the Capricorn coast, and Moreton Island park ranger Keiran Lusk in the coming weeks.
Follow Jester and other Queenslanders on Instagram @Queensland.
This isn’t Queensland’s first creative way of reaching potential visitors — they held the famous Best Job in the World contest in 2009, now spun off into multiple jobs around Australia.
When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision that ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a few days back it was met with jubilation across the country. The ruling is seen as a dramatic advancement of gay rights while also providing for the equal treatment of same-sex marriages moving forward. The 5-4 decision has such far-reaching consequences in fact that even our friends Down Under have joined the celebration. The qualia Resort on Australia’s Hamilton Island have announced a couple’s retreat package that is open to any couple regardless of genders.
Australia’s qualia, which was voted the Best Resort in the World by “Conde Nast Traveler” readers in November of 2012, features 60 spectacular one-bedroom pavilions and a single luxurious beach house. The resort is located at the north-end of Hamilton Island, which is itself part of the spectacular Whitsunday Islands. Surrounded on all sides by the Great Barrier Reef, soft white sand beaches and some of the clearest ocean waters you could ever hope to see, it is an idyllic escape into paradise.The Couple’s Retreat package starts at $3000 per person and includes accommodations for seven nights in a private pavilion, daily breakfasts and full use of non-motorized water sports such as catamarans, sailboats, snorkeling gear and so on. The romantic escape will also include a sunset cruise through the tranquil waters off the coast of Hamilton Island, a poolside dinner at the Pebble Beach restaurant, chauffeured car service around the island and beach drop-offs on other nearby islands, amongst numerous other amenities. Couples can even choose to upgrade to other pavilions that include their own private plunge pools.
I haven’t been to qualia but I have visited the Whitsunday Islands in the past. It is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience and I can only imagine how romantic of an escape it would be for any couple. The beaches and ocean are simply breathtaking and it is the perfect place for a relaxed escape from the world.
The trip, which can be given as a gift on February 14 but enjoyed year-round, features an array of services, divine cuisine and incredible experiences from private planes and personalized gourmet meals for a special package offer of $100,000.
The resort, qualia (pronounced kwah-lee-ah), features 60, one-bedroom pavilions and a beach house with views of the surrounding Coral Sea and Queensland’s famed Whitsunday Islands.
But just what do you get for $100k? Here you go:
Private round-trip jet from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Hamilton Island.
Seven-night stay at qualia’s Beach House including a la carte breakfast daily and dinner in either qualia’s Long Pavilion or Pebble Beach restaurants.
Private dinner prepared personally by qualia’s Executive Chef, Alastair Waddell.
Dinner one evening in Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s fine-dining Bommie restaurant.
Private helicopter and gourmet lunch on Whitehaven Beach.
Luxury Reef Comber Tour including seaplane flight to Hardy Lagoon, glass bottom boat and snorkeling experience.
8-holes of golf at the Hamilton Island Golf Club with return helicopter transfers from qualia to Dent Island, including three-course Clubhouse lunch with wine.
Private luxury yacht charter for a day.
Spa qualia couples treatment.
Prestige bottle of Robert Oatley Vineyards Finisterre wine with a personalized label signed by Robert Oatley (owner of Hamilton Island).
Shipment of Robert Oatley wine to any address in the US for six months after visit (six cases).
Private beach drop off with gourmet picnic lunch.
Atomic sunset cruise with canapés and champagne.
The Beach House boasts a main bedroom and ensuite entertaining area with large flat-screen TV with surround sound, 10-person dining area, private full-sized swimming pool and separate guesthouse.
For the first time ever, readers of “Conde Nast Traveler” magazine have named an Australian resort the best in the world. The 2012 edition of the magazine’s popular reader’s choice travel awards selected qualia for this distinct honor, handing out a perfect score of 100 for only the fourth time in the 25-year history of the competition.
This year’s reader’s choice awards saw more than 46,400 respondents who shared their thoughts on their favorite hotels, cities and islands from around the globe. Each of the candidates are rated on a scale from one to five in a variety of categories, with their final scores representing an average of the Excellent and Very Good ratings that they received. In the case of qualia that tabulated up to a perfect score.
Located on the privately owned Hamilton Island, qualia is surrounded by one of the most beautiful settings in the entire world – the Great Barrier Reef. The luxury hotel features 60 private pavilions with spacious accommodations, sundecks and private infinity edge pools that overlook the ocean. Two bars and restaurants, a private dining hall, a world-class spa, fitness center and library round out the a amenities that will keep guests cloaked in comfort for the entire length of their stay.
Hamilton Island is located in the Whitsunday Islands, quite possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. For those who can’t get enough time on the beach or water, it is simply paradise. If you’re adventurous enough to enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving, the Great Barrier Reef is amazing as well. I spent hours just floating along watching colorful and exotic fish by the hundreds. As someone who tends to usually favor mountains over beaches, this was still one of my favorite destinations ever.
The Hamilton Island & Sydney package includes everything you’ll need to enjoy an Australian vacation. The itinerary features round-trip flights on Virgin Australia from Los Angeles, ground transportation to and from the airport and five nights stay in both Sydney and on Hamilton Island itself. It also includes snorkeling excursions on the Great Barrier Reef; a visit to the world famous Whitehaven Beach; access to windsurfing, catamarans and paddle skis; and much more. The package is priced at $3646, which represents a 38% savings, and must be taken between April 1st and September 15th of this year.
Having visited the GBR myself a few years back I can attest to how beautiful a destination it truly is. The Whitsunday Islands, of which Hamilton Island is a part, is amongst the most stunning places I’ve ever been and I completely understand why it was named as the top “dream destination” on the LivingSocial survey. Other places that earned a place on that list include the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Grand Canyon in Arizona and the Great Wall of China. No word yet if any of those places are offering discounts on travel as well.