AFTER WINNING RESORT AND OVERALL HOTEL OF THE YEAR AT THE 2009 HM AWARDS, IT’S NO WONDER QUALIA REMAINS IN HIGH DEMAND.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON
Despite the global economic downturn, uber-luxurious Hamilton Island resort qualia remains in high demand from both the leisure and group travel segments.
“qualia is performing very well, considering the current climate,” qualia General Manager Jason Friedman told HM. “qualia has had a mixture of both Australian and international guests that have all enjoyed the ‘qualia effect’.
During a site tour in late July, Friedman said the luxury market was holding up well, noting that six VIP aircraft had visited Hamilton Island during the week prior, with all guests staying at the exclusive property.
On the MICE segment, the news is also good, with Friedman reporting strong return business – particularly from the United States.
“Since opening in October 2007, we have welcomed both non-sole use and sole use groups from various industries including finance, pharmaceutical and auto,” he said.
“We have had three groups form the USA and three return groups already within the two years that the resort has been opened.
“A lot of these high end incentives are very well travelled and we have received great feedback from PCOs and their clients,” he said.
Friedman said while there was an economic downturn at present, with companies tightening travel budgets, smaller incentive-based bookings were still in high demand.
“Obviously some corporates are pulling back, but they still need to incentivise and motivate staff so it may mean lower key options – yet still with ‘wow’ factor – closer to home, which makes our location ideal,” he said.
Friedman said new direct Virgin Blue flights from Sydney, complete with premium economy, would help drive this sector, while there was also “endless potential” for luxury incentive trips from the United States, thanks to the one-stop Los Angeles-Brisbane-Hamilton Island flights on Virgin Blue and V Australia, which launched in April.
Away from performance, at the 2009 HM Awards qualia was named Resort of the Year and Overall Hotel of the Year – two awards Friedman said were extremely well received by staff.
“The HM awards are very important to us because it validates all of the hard work, passion and dedication that all of the qualia staff have put into the product over this past year,” he said.
“It was very important to the whole team that we won this year and everyone committed themselves 100% to achieving this goal.
“I was in the USA at a luxury travel conference when I found out the news and the congratulations from my peers in the business was overwhelming… it was not just the Australians that were congratulatory but, a large contingent of the international delegates were also aware of the award,” he said.
Hamilton Island, QLD, Australia
Owner: The Oatley Family
Operator: The Oatley Family
General Manager: Jason Friedman
Opened: Stage 1, October 2007; Stage 2, August 2008
Rooms & suites: 33 Windward Pavilions; 27 Leeward Pavilions; 1 Beach House
F&B outlets: The Long Pavilion and Pebble Beach
Conferencing: Executive Board Meetings and small incentive groups
Recreation facilities: Two full length infinity pools, Spa qualia, watersports, heli flights to the Reef and Whitehaven Beach, 18 hole Hamilton Island Golf Club.