IHG do not have the calibre of properties that rivals like Marriott and Hilton boast off in Australia. They have a bunch of InterContinental’s in major cities plus a solitary Kimpton in Sydney. While I haven’t yet stayed at InterContinental Sorrento, its namesake at Hayman Island is possibly the pick of the property in IHG’s Australian portfolio.
Whitsundays is somewhere I had wanted to visit for a long time, and so, when IHG ran a flash sale last year offering redemption discounts of up to 70%, I pulled the trigger and booked a short 3-night getaway.
InterContinental Hayman Island is part of IHG Hotels and Resorts, a British multinational company headquartered in England. For years, the group had operated a rather lacklustre loyalty program called IHG Rewards Club which offered no worthwhile benefits. Then early in 2022 they revamped the program, adding several valuable benefits in the process and rechristened it IHG One Rewards.
Cash rates at InterContinental Hayman Island start at AUD 750 per night for an entry level room in low season and go up to AUD 1,200 during busy periods such as Winter School Holidays and the year-end festive season. If you want to redeem points, reward nights are generally priced between 90,000 – 100,000 IHG One Rewards points per night. But since IHG One Rewards operate dynamic award pricing, redemption costs can be lower or higher.
I booked my 3-night stay for just 35,000 IHG One Rewards points per night (total 105,000 points) last year when IHG offered a no-notice award sale. While such deep discounts are rare, IHG One Rewards Diamond and Platinum members are periodically offered discounted redemptions as part of their elite benefits. These however only offer 15-25% savings over standard redemption rates which isn’t as good a deal, but better than paying full price.
Earning IHG One Rewards Points
The simplest way to earn IHG One Rewards Points is by staying at IHG properties. Members earn 10 points per USD 1 on stays including on incidentals such as dining, spa etc. Then there’s ongoing promotions which can help you earn additional points. Even so, unless you are a road warrior this isn’t the most efficient way to build up your points inventory.
The best way to do that is through buying points when they are on sale. IHG frequently sell points for USD 0.005 (half US cent) per point, if you could scoop-up points at that price and then redeem them during one of the 35K sale which generally comes around at least once a year, that’s like paying USD 175 (AUD 262.50) per night instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars that some of IHG high-end properties go for.
Getting to InterContinental Hayman Island
Most people coming to InterContinental Hayman Island fly into Hamilton Island Airport which is the closest airport to the resort. There are flights into Hamilton Island from most major cities on the East coast. From here, you can either jump on the 1-hour Hayman Island Luxury Vessel or hop-aboard a chopper that will deposit you at the resort in about 10 minutes.
The prices are :
- Cruise Ride : $210 per adult and $110 per child (Age 5 to 16 years) one-way
- Helicopter Ride : $970 per aircraft each way, capable of accommodating 2 adults and 1 child. A 3rd seat surcharge of $245 is applicable.
See this link for more details on pricing and transfer options.
Either way, you are required to check-in at the InterContinental Hayman Island transfer desk in the arrivals area of Hamilton Island airport. You can leave your luggage with the staff who will deliver it straight to your room. If your boat or helicopter transfer is not ready – which often happens as they wait for passengers arriving on other flights, there is a small lounge where hotel guests can relax and enjoy refreshments.
After checking-in my bags with the staff, I waited for about 10 minutes in the lounge. Soon enough the staff advised the boat was ready and passengers made their way out of the airport and on to the vessel. I boarded the vessel and entered the lower deck which was huge and very well appointed in plush leather seating and large glass windows to maximise the surrounding views.
I was enthusiastically welcomed onboard and offered a refreshing drink. One of the staff then proceeded to complete the check-in process so that upon disembarking I could be taken straight to my room. Once we were on our way, a Welcome platter of cheese, crackers and various cold-cuts was presented. Multiple top-ups were offered along the way. Sweet.
There is a small toilet on the lower deck, plus more seating on the top deck. I went to have a quick look and noticed a few more people upstairs.
It was way too hot to sit outside so I spent the rest of the journey indoors in the comfort of aircon. We docked at the hotel marina in about 60 minutes from where guests were collected on golf-style buggies and driven to the property.
I spent the next few minutes surveying the lobby, it was beautiful with lots of seating but with check-in already completed onboard, there is no need for guests to stop here. As a result, there were only a handful of people around.
I was then handed over to one of the waiting staff who spent the next 10 minutes giving a brief tour of various resort facilities before taking me to my room.
InterContinental Hayman Island 1 bedroom Suite Pool View
My original booking was for the entry level room which at InterContinental Hayman Island is the 38 square metre Classic King Room. A couple of days before I was due to arrive I noticed on the IHG app that the booking had been upgraded to 1 Bedroom Suite Pool View which constituted a 1 category upgrade.
At 75 square metres, Room 344 offers separate living/dining area, a spacious bedroom and bathroom. Both living room and bedroom have their own balcony with gorgeous pool and ocean views.
Stepping inside, you have the living room first up. It is a good size with a sitting area at the front and a 4-seater dining/working table closer to the entrance.
There is a fixed counter on the wall closer to the dining table, it contained a coffee machine, provisions for making tea and coffee, reusable water bottles and few decorative art pieces. Underneath, there was a well-stocked bar-fridge with soft drinks, beer and wine.
The bedroom was to the right, with the 4-poster bed forming the centre piece.
There were bedside tables on either end. Lights, fans, aircon and curtains were controlled via buttons on electronic pads fitted on the walls right around the living room and bedroom.
The bathroom was to the left of the bed with a half glass-wall separating it from the bedroom. Across the wall, you had a gleaming, deep-soaking tub.
There’s hardly any privacy for the user as you can tell from these pictures, I would like to see the hotel put-in some retractable blinds which may alleviate some of the concern. There were side-by-side vanities with a small sink on either end of this area.
The nearby wooden box contained a bottle of mouth-wash as well as several items of personal & dental hygiene. Towels of all sizes were in the shelves underneath. Toiletries were offered in large pump bottles and were of good quality.
A few steps down, a pair of bathrobes hung proudly on the wall. Next to it, you had the wardrobe as well as space to store your luggage.
Beyond this, there were separate shower and toilet. While the shower was roomy and had the same high quality BAL D’AFRIQUE bath products, the weak water pressure was disappointing as it took forever to get the soap off.
In the overall scheme of things though, I was very pleased with the quality of accommodation.
InterContinental Hayman Island Dining
Dining can sometimes be a concern when you are on a remote island where everything has to be transported from mainland. I am pleased to say that that is not an issue at this property. The resort is home to 4 different restaurants. While not every restaurant is open every day, you will have at least 2 to choose from for every meal. Reservations are necessary for dinner but not for lunch.
First up there is Amici, a restaurant specialising in Mediterranean/Italian cuisine.
I dined here on two occasions. I had the prawn pizza on one night and the chef special spinach and ricotta calzone on the second night. In terms of taste I quite enjoyed the calzone, the pizza not so much.
Next is Bam Bam, located beside the resorts infinity pool it serves Pan-Asian food inspired from across the continent.
I had lunch here one afternoon and ordered the humble pad-thai which was lip-smacking good.
I have had hundreds of pad-thai over the years including several in Thailand. I have no hesitation in saying this was one of the very best and comfortably my favourite meal at the property.
Next comes Aqua, centrally located by the resorts main pool The Hayman Pool, it serves seasonal seafoods, fresh salads, zesty ice pops and all kinds of cocktail.
Aqua is only open for lunch between 11 am – 4:30 pm, there’s no dinner service. I dropped-in for lunch once and ordered the fish tacos. They were delicious.
Lastly there is Pacific, the resorts signature restaurant and bar. This is also where guests eat breakfast each morning. Although they are open for lunch and dinner on some days I didn’t get a chance to sample the menu.
Breakfast is buffet-style and it is the stock-standard fare that is served at hotels each morning right around the world. There was hot food, pastries, cereal, fresh fruits, cold cuts, hot and cold drinks.
I had the full English breakfast on 2 morning (sans the baked beans). Hot and Cold beverages can be ordered with any number of wandering staff and they are delivered right to your table which is nice.
As well as the standard stuff, there were a couple of specials such as Curry of the Day and Roast of the Day each morning. I sampled the Butter Chicken & Rice once which was quite average.
To sum-up, there is enough variety of food and drinks on the property and repetition wouldn’t be an issue unless you were staying here for an extended period of time.
InterContinental Hayman Island Guest Amenities
As you would expect at a property of this standard, there are multiple salt water pools for guests to enjoy. First up, you have the pool located near the lagoon wing on the eastern side of the resort. This pool is quite shallow, ideal for small children and beginner swimmers.
Then you have the resorts premier pool, the Hayman Pool. Counted amongst the largest swimming pools in the Southern hemisphere, it is located in the Pool Wing and covers the length of seven Olympic-size pools with a bar in the centre.
It gets blistering hot during the day, so if you wanted to get out of the water to reapply the sunblock, there are 3 pool-side cabanas to take shelter. Do note that these are very popular and almost always get booked out, so plan a day or two ahead if you want to reserve them.
If you wanted to ditch the pool and hit the beach, there is a long stretch of stand at the front of the property. Not sure it was the heat or something else, I never really noticed too many people frequenting the beach during my stay.
The property has an enormous gym with tonnes of cardio machines and weight equipment’s. Although I didn’t personally make use of it, I had to walk past the gym to get around the resort and never saw a soul using it.
If you were after some board games, wanted to socialise or just chill out, head to the Adventure Lounge located next to the lobby. Here you will find a pool table, a scrabble board and loads of quiet seating spaces.
The resort offers water sports, diving, and all kinds of on and off-island activities. There’s jet-ski and speed boat rides, snorkelling, fishing tours, scuba-diving adventures as well as helicopter or seaplane rides if you wanted to get a birds eye view of the surrounding islands of the Whitsundays.
For something a little different, guests can walk one of the many trails that the island offers. Be warned though, the longest of the hikes can take up to two hours to complete so you really need to start early to avoid walking in the hot sun.
I went for a 3km hike on my last morning at the island and loved it. You definitely need to be moderately fit as the trail is uneven and quite steep in places, but the views from the top is well worth the effort.
Lastly you have the Hayman Spa, resorts signature spa and ultimate relaxation venue. Besides the usual treatments, the spa also offers meditation and energy healing practices. I am not really a spa person, but here is the full menu if you wish to explore it.
InterContinental Hayman Island Service
Service, poorly trained staff and the general upkeep of the property were the sore points of my stay. There were quite a few instances where I felt let-down by the staff.
For example, I asked the House Keeping to service the room twice on my first full day at the property. On both occasions I was assured it will be done but nothing happened. It took a stern phone call to the duty manager before someone was sent out to refresh the room at 8 pm, hardly ideal. To the managers credit, he was deeply apologetic and offered a $300 resort credit to make-up for the service deficiency.
In another instance I inquired the front-desk staff about the elite benefits available to IHG Diamond Ambassador members as nothing was explained to me during check-in. To say that he was clueless wouldn’t be an exaggeration in the least.
Lastly, I found ant-infestation to be a huge issue in my room. Upon notifying the staff, they sprayed some disinfectant which did not make any difference whatsoever. The ants were back in full force within hours. I realise that the location of the property means that pest control is challenging, even so, I thought the property ought to do a better job in managing these issues.
I had a good time at InterContinental Hayman Island. Located on a remote island, a stay here even when redeeming points is far from cheap. The transfer cost itself will be well over a thousand dollars for a family of four.
Surprisingly, food and drinks at the resort are extremely reasonably priced, or perhaps I got that feeling simply because I had paid through my noses during my stay at St. Regis Maldives last year, a similar remote island property 😉
Whitsundays is a beautiful region of Australia and a stay at InterContinental Hayman Island, as nice as it is, can be elevated further by addressing some of the things pointed out in this post. Given a chance I would love to return, even if my experience was a bit up and down.
Everybody deserves a second chance.
Have you stayed at InterContinental Hayman Island? Leave a comment below.