Tuesday, January 24, 2012

MY SUMMER READING STOCKPILE




I'm about to devour these once I finally finish reading The Corrections. I let dozens of other books interrupt another epic journey with Jonathan Franzen (DID I MENTION YOU MUST READ HIS OTHER NOVEL, FREEDOM?), but I'm almost finished and looking forward to taking up residence once again on my supremely comfortable sofa until uni starts once again and the only texts that will be allowed in my vicinity will be "prescribed" and four to eight times the price of my beloved fiction books.

From Top - Bottom:

1. Look at Me - Jennifer Egan
2. The Invisible Circus - Jennifer Egan
3. The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes (Booker Prize winner 2011)
4. Super Sad True Love Story - Gary Shteyngart
5. Palladio - Jonathan Dee
6. Black Swan Green - David Mitchell

Monday, January 23, 2012

LAP OF LUXURY: HAMILTON ISLAND



That's the view just prior to landing at Hamilton Island where James and I would spend five days at the amazing, awe-inspiring, heavenly Qualia. I could not have imagined the luxurious experience that awaited me. We're talking the type of place where the toiletries (Aesop in this case) get you all sticky-fingered and motivated to make your bathroom just as glorious; the kind of place that doesn't need to charge you for the ultra-posh soft drinks, juices and bottled waters in the minibar; the kind of place where the beach towels are exclusively designed by Colette Dinnigan and stacked in perfect pyramids poolside until you take one; the kind of place where minutes later and without your noticing the perfect stack of beach towels you perverted is restored to its former triangular glory; the kind of place where the continental breakfast is actually a made to order, gastronomic fare - satiating enough on its own but puzzlingly (and I'm not complaining here) there's an almighty selection of pastries; gourmet cereals and fruits at one side of the dining room should you require further spoiling... I'm getting carried away here, so let's get back to the story:

Upon arrival at the airport, Qualia staff greeted us with cold towels and chilled bottled water - their own brand, naturally - before whisking us off to the resort in a brand-new, air-conditioned VW van. Hamilton Island's roads generally allow holidaymakers to travel via golf-buggies only, so you can imagine how treated we were. Not to mention not having to wait at the baggage carousel for our things - another Qualia staff member took care of all that while we made our way to the resort...


Behind Trojan gates, through a neat road surrounded by fragrant, native gardens is Qualia's magnificent 'Long Pavilion'. This is where the concierge, dining room, bar and study is located and commands the most breathtaking view I think I've ever seen. Upon arrival, we were greeted with chilled tea and Veuve Cliquot, invited to take a seat, take in the view and let the staff take care of our check-in. Never have I felt so little responsibility. No queues, no waiting around, absolutely no trouble at all. Every - and I mean every - moment from arrival to departure at this place is dedicated to you and making you feel utterly spoilt and relaxed. I can now understand why some getaways command the price tags they do and in this instance, it was absolutely worth it.


This is the life... Unfortunately for me, I had taken a diazepam tablet for my flight nerves so the Veuve was left almost untouched...



...Which wasn't really a bother at all considering the complimentary bottle presented to us in our villa!

...And use of a golf buggy for the duration of our stay.


I'd be here for days if I was to list all of Qualia's wonderful perks and features. Some of the highlights for me included: reading, sipping caprioskas and being generally serene at Qualia's pool and private beach; enjoying the world class onsite spa (the facilities were beyond luxurious and, coupled with the best massage EVER, took me to a whole new level of indulgence); parasailing above Hamilton and surrounding islands; and taking in the panoramic views and picture perfect fairways as James played at Hamilton Island Golf Course (it is actually based on neighbouring Dent Island - a whole island of fairways and a clubhouse... Brilliant). I'm going to attempt to make minimal commentary and allow the pictures to speak for themselves now:


Despite being shrouded in clouds for most of our stay, the weather was still blissful, the island picturesque...


Hamilton Island Golf Course clubhouse - I should have encouraged James to play a full 18 holes and stop here for lunch because the view was like nothing else. Believe me, these pictures don't do it justice!



The complimentary starter at breakfast: a breakfast tapas, if you will...


The view from our breakfast table.


That's a truffled omelette on the right. There is no better omelette in this world. FACT.


After a few days, the rat race now an inconceivable concept, our faces became softer, calmer. Our lungs and sinuses cleared too!


Exhibit B


The day I read most of A Visit from the Goon Squad - I can't tell you whether it was the location or the book but my life changed that day 




Get ready for the moment where, suitably less inhibited after two drinks, I let James (and myself) turn the camera on me, me me!!!














... I took this picture on my last day at Qualia, while my heart was breaking. This is the gym. I know I could have gotten so much exercise done with this view!


I hope you've enjoyed my pictures from Hamilton Island and I really do suggest one day splurging on yourself or yourself and a loved one and experiencing this beautiful region from as spectacular a place as Qualia. It's a treat you won't regret and an experience you won't forget!