TOO often a weekend away is never long enough. By the time you relax it's time to check-out and head home. Not at Byron Bay's newest resort.
The first view you get walking into Elements of Byron's impressive dune-shape reception is probably the best-looking infinity pool I've seen in a long time. It's cabana city. Private huts, daybeds and banana lounges surround the three-house-pad-sized pool, serviced by a barefoot bar. There's even an adjoining communal fire pit. Where are we again?
We order a cocktail and head for "adults only" sun pods overhanging the water - why not? I'm in my element.
The resort, which opened last month, is sprawled out across 20ha with almost two kilometres of beach frontage on Belongil Beach - it even employs a lifeguard for resort guests.
Dotted among rainforest and eucalypts are 94 eco-sensitive bungalow-style villas (a further 96 to be built by 2017). With a 10% building footprint, the private owners cite Mother Nature as the five-star resort's creative director. Each room's colour palette, design and furnishings echo the site's eucalypt, rainforest, wetland and dunal ecologies.
Ours' is wetland-themed and perched over an existing tea-tree-stained lagoon speckled with lily pads. It's understated luxury in appearance, yet probably as high-tech as accommodation comes. A swipe of the keycard from the waterfront terrace and the electronically locked sliding door lets you into the beautiful blonde timber and marble finished space, dappled with light. The bedhead is a work of art reflecting the wetland setting.
Small from the outset, space is deceiving when you're inside. There's a lounge, decent sized TV and mini bar, then up a couple of steps a plush king-sized bed with adjoining bathroom, with deep, free-standing stone bath complete with complimentary "bath caviar", and a rain shower. There's also a workspace with hi-speed wi-fi.
The room is controlled by a touch panel - you can request your room to be cleaned or select "do-not-disturb" at a touch of the screen. You can also control the air-conditioning, but with louvre windows on almost every wall, we prefer to listen to the sound of the ocean crashing nearby and wake to the warble of the kookaburras.
A tablet houses the resort compendium and library of movies and extras. You can even use it to request room service.
It's only a hop, skip and a jump from the room to the sea. Another private area of sun lounges provides a view of the beachfront and estuary, with Byron Bay lighthouse in the distance. Up some stairs to a grassy rise is where complimentary yoga is offered each morning from 6.30am in the "Heart of the Bay". Here you can watch the sunrise over the ocean. Or be the first in Australia to witness the sunrise from Cape Byron, the most eastern point of Australia, just a short drive down the road.
Soon there will be walking tracks through the rainforest for guests to explore too.
When the sun sets, the blue lit pool and warm glow of the sunken fire pit provides a picturesque backdrop for Graze restaurant. Executive chef Justin Dingle-Garciyya's seasonal menu is heavily focused on local seasonal produce and flavours. We share king mackerel steaks and 12-hour clay baked lamb - our favourite though was the playful crab stuffed doughnuts with red pepper, chipotle jam starter.
And if you've forgotten what day it is, the arty drink coasters at Drift Bar will remind you as they're changed each day. It's the small things.
A visit to Osprey Spa is a must. I'm asked to choose an affirmation card from a pile of cards before relaxing into a La Gaia Mother Earth facial. I close my eyes, and although it's only 10am my therapist's Amy's touch puts me almost to sleep within minutes - a sign of a good facial.
On completion, I'm given some homemade lemon sorbet with local finger lime pearls. I read the affirmation card: "Close your eyes. Breathe slowly and create an ideal image. Smell the surroundings, feel the ground, touch what you can see. Make it as sensory as can. This can be your happy place, you can visit anytime just by closing your eyes". I think I've found my happy place.
*The writer was a guest of Elements of Byron.
Elements of Byron
144 Bayshore Dr
Byron Bay NSW 2481
Rates from $380 p/n incl. farmers market continental breakfast, complimentary yoga class.
Phone: 02 6639 1500