After a rocky year, our family of four just needed a time to totally relax. It needed to be close to Sydney, warm and family friendly, with the option of plenty to do for everyone. This is exactly what Hamilton Island provided, especially at the Reef View. We booked a Reef Suite with 2 Queen beds which worked well for us. Upstairs is the bedroom and bathroom (open plan with door only to WC), while downstairs is living room, kitchenette (small fridge/coffee & tea - no toaster or microwave, but crockery if you want to bring back takeaway), and a second WC. Both have balconies with fantastic views....and cockatoos!
Given our trip was only for 4 nights/5 days (Jetstar have a 2.50pm flight back to Sydney), I am glad I decided to stay on the "resort" side, rather than over on the Marina side. I didn't read the fine print enough, and only knew that breakfast was going to be included and a transfer. I was contacted by Alicia from the Concierge before we left, asking could she help with any dinner/tour reservations (or anything really). What a fantastic service, and she was so friendly and helpful our whole time there. Upon arrival, we were met by another fantastic member of concierge (I am so sorry I forget your name), and taken directly to the hotel. They even collected our bags for us, which were delivered to our room - outstanding service once again. After a private check-in in the Reef Lounge we jumped into the lift and found the most amazing views from our suite on level 19 (don't worry if your room is not up that high, as the views from just about anywhere are amazing and you will not go home without having experienced them). The island is absolutely beautiful. The kids were in their swimmers and we were booking tours within an hour of arrival (you can book in advance via email, but they ask you for your credit card number - who emails those?). If you can get on the Turtle Experience, we found this extremely good (minimum 12 years). Book it straight away through the beach sports hut, as places are limited and timings depend on the tide. Given we had never been to HI before, we didn't realise that most water activities on Catseye are tide dependent. We booked a catamaran initially for one day, but when we realised how popular they were, we went back and booked a second hour for a different day. It is a little like disney in this respect - if you have limited time, you need to sort your tours/activities out and get them all booked at the start. We did this and did everything we wanted with plenty of time to relax in between. Took the Reef Ryder 2 in 1 (half day tour). Snorkelling at Chalkies beach was fun, but at this time of year it was a little cold due to wind chill. Recommend taking wetsuits with you (they are offered free with tour). Check the sizings before you leave, so you are not stuck with wrong equipment when you get there. Whitehaven is absolutely gorgeous, and as everyone says, is a "must do". I digress, this review should be about the hotel, but in a big way, the hotel and everything HI has to offer are one and the same, as it seems to be the heart of the island. At this time of year all the main pools were quite cold (we tried them all). The one at RV is heated and therefore very popular, especially with little ones. My personal favourite was Hibiscus - it is small and almost "hidden". If you want some quiet on Catseye (away from the paddle boarding/sailing hoards) then go out the hotel, turn right and go through the first beach access point you come across. This will take you past Hibiscus and out onto the beach where you will find available deck chairs. We ate at the hotel - breakfast was good, but got busy as the holidays went on. Eat early if you want to avoid the masses. Also tried Mariners and Cocachu which were both good. The bakery is great if you want to pick up something for lunch, but don't want "cooked" food. Kids were allowed in the Reef Bar, where they had live music. We went one evening as we were waiting for a table in the restaurant (didn't book:). It was great, had a drink and ordered the kids some bread to stave off the hunger - very relaxing once again. The only minus I could point out, is that the island is expensive (evening meals for 4 people were always around $250 - which included 2-4 alcoholic drinks - our kids don't eat off kids menu either). Lunch at beach club also a bit on expensive side (enough chips for 1 child = $8...). If you are prepared for this, then it won't be a problem. If you want to save, you can always go to the bakery and make your own sandwiches - the grocery store is well stocked. If you want to totally self cater - book one of the many apartments. Because we had such a short time, we found the RV was perfect for us and would love to go back!
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.