Elysian Luxury Eco Island Retreat, Lux Nomade reviews the beautifully remote eco-luxe hotel in The Whitsundays
I’m sitting on a low, handmade wicker sofa – barefoot, with a light jumper thrown on over my swimsuit that’s still slightly damp from a late morning swim. A table has been set for me in the window, but the host who’s been plying me with coffee and coconut water all morning asks if I’d rather eat on the sofa, and I tell her that’s an excellent idea. It’s my second lunch at Elysian (the first was a colourful, wakame-crowned donburi bowl that another guest accurately described as “too beautiful to eat”), and yet again it’s exactly what I feel like, leading me to a suspicion about the chef’s unadvertised clairvoyant abilities. I choose the most buttery corner of (handmade, perfectly light) roti and dip it in the creamy trevlala curry. It’s so intensely flavoursome that I can’t help but wonder if it’s been laced with MSG, but decide it’s unlikely. If there was a resort in the Whitsundays that could create such otherworldly flavours from an organic array of ingredients, it would be Elysian: the entirely solar-powered, barefoot luxury eco-retreat whose ethos is one of masterfully executed simplicity. One of Elysian’s guiding principles, as outlined in their Four-way Action Plan for Change detailed in their compendium, is that “quality of life is not measured in monetary value and objects, but rather in the richness of interaction with the natural environment”.
It’s this principle that undergirds every element of the Elysian experience: though luxury standards are upheld throughout, a seamless and sublime connection to nature is the hotel’s calling card.
Located on a secluded bay on Long Island, the uniquely remote private resort is accessible only by boat or helicopter. Aside from when guests are arriving by either of those means, you’re unlikely to see evidence of another soul. The world could end, and at Elysian, days would carry on in their peaceful, sun-soaked rhythm.
I’m full, but at Elysian, it’s customary to eat sorbet after lunch, so I take mine – handmade on-site from locally grown dragon fruit – onto the woven wooden hammock that hangs between palm trees on the west side of the restaurant. The beach falls out below me in a cascade of pebbles and broken coral, and across the channel, neighbouring islands push out of the ocean like tree-studded emeralds into a sapphire-toned sky. There’s an imposing, watchful majesty in their presence, and though Elysian is the only human-made form in sight, the islands provide a comforting sense of company.
Comprising just ten private beachside villas, Elysian can host a maximum of twenty guests, so getting to know your neighbours is an inevitable perk. The intimate, friendly dynamic of the hotel is a happy byproduct of the hosting team’s remarkably informal (but still impeccably executed) approach. Here, hospitality doesn’t feel like a job, but more of a joy.
“We love it here, so we want the people who visit to love it too,” explains Lilly. I’d shared the boat over to the island with Lilly and her partner the day before, a journey that set the tone for what my stay at Elysian was about to look like: unpretentious perfection.
As the first 100% solar-powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef, Elysian walks the talk as a leading eco resort, guided by the principles of no harm, quality over quantity, living luxury and leaving nothing behind.
I spend my days between the hammock and the magnesium-enriched infinity pool, taking breaks occasionally to paddle across the bay or hike along the bush path through the thick canopy of Hoop Pines. In the mornings, we practise yoga in front of the ocean, and one afternoon the teacher offers me a private class on the deck in front of my villa. When the sun begins to drop behind the mountains, we eat canapes by the open fire before moving inside for dinner (always a three-course affair, and always exceptional). Elysian is an all-inclusive resort that has redefined the term: with attention to detail paid to every abundant element.
And, astonishingly, the level of care that’s shown to Elysian’s guests is extended to the environment. As the first 100% solar-powered resort on the Great Barrier Reef, Elysian walks the talk as a leading eco resort, guided by the principles of no harm, quality over quantity, living luxury and leaving nothing behind.
Even for hotel enthusiasts such as myself, it’s rare for a luxury resort to leave you with an emotional connection. These are places designed for mass appeal – curated with a broad swathe of guests in mind in order to cater to every possible whim. Except, that is, on the rare case that a resort is Elysian. This is an art piece of a hotel: the luxury elements are here, but so too is a sense of soul. An authentically generous attitude that’s free from insincere excess, and yet as completely, indulgently, soul-enrichingly luxurious as a hotel stay could possibly hope to be. The emotional response hits me when I leave – wading out to the tiny boat that carries me back to the mainland, and back to reality.
For more information and bookings Elysian Luxury Eco Island Retreat https://www.elysianretreat.com.au/