Travelling is something I haven't done as much of in my life as I would have liked. I'm sure many of you feel the same.
I have a long list of countries I want to visit (France being number one in my list), but I want to see more of Australia too. So when I was offered the opportunity to visit the Whitsundays and write about my experience, especially from a foodies and vegetarians perspective I literally jumped at the chance.
Paradise Bay Resort was the last stop of a very busy 3 day tour of the Whitsundays, and is located at a hidden cove of Long Island, one of the 74 islands within the Whitsundays group of islands.
The only way to get to Paradise Bay is by helicopter. And being afraid of heights, and seeing the very small helicopter we were to fly in I nervously I stepped inside. In no time we were in the air, and faced with such beautiful views I quickly forgot my nerves and out came my camera. And what views they were, as we flew over Dent Island on our way to Long Island, the home of Paradise Bay Resort.
With a flying time of only 7 minutes all too soon we found ourselves coming landing at Paradise Bay, where we were greeted by our hosts, Sophie and Todd. Handed glasses of champagne on arrival, and presented with a beautiful plate of tropical fruits, we sat down in the main resort building and got to know Sophie and Todd, and learn a little more about Paradise Bay Resort.
Sophie and Todd have been hosting guests at Paradise Bay for 3 and a half years, and are clearly passionate about their job, and Paradise Bay. So much so, that when the resort went into receivership at the start of 2012 they self funded the resort to ensure guests with bookings at the resort could still enjoy their holiday. I found this amazingly admirable, and it only endeared me to them and Paradise Bay all the more.
Purchased by new owners earlier this year, the resort underwent an update, with the addition of a pool area and new gardens, and re-opened for business on June 1, making us one of the first guests since the re-opening.
Travelling as a vegetarian can be difficult at times, however chef Todd was excited to prepare vegetarian dishes, and let me tell you, they were far from the bland and boring usual vegetarian offerings found at most resorts. In fact, I have to say the food prepared by chef Todd was some of the best food I've eaten in years.
Sitting down to lunch, at a table facing the beach, we are soon presented with our first course of sweet corn fritters. The fritters were deliciously crispy on the outside, light and perfectly cooked in the middle, and were accompanied by a salad of micro herbs, mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce.
Next came soft pillows of ricotta gnocchi accompanied by roasted butternut pumpkin, macadamias, curd cheese and herbs. Finally, came a dessert of passionfruit semifreddo, which was silkily smooth and perfectly contrasted with crunchy pieces of meringue.
Our stomachs now full, and feeling very content, it was time to explore the beautiful resort.
Paradise Bay resort is a child free resort, making it perfect for romantic escapes or honeymoons. The resort consists of 10 bungalows, with the main resort building housing a bar, dining room, Chef Todd's kitchen and comfortable couches to sink into as you read a book or chat to new friends.
There's no television, no internet and little to no mobile reception, allowing guests to truly escape from the hustle and bustle of the world, even if only for the duration of their stay.
The resort is also an eco resort, that utilises solar power, recycles its own waste for use on the gardens, and believes in sustainability. As a result, vegetable and herb gardens have recently been added, which chef Todd excitedly discusses, and is clearly looking forward to his first harvest.
Next to the main resort building is the pool, which overlooks the beach. It's the perfect place to relax and laze in the sun, or chill out while sipping on your favourite cocktail.
The pool deck also hosts morning yoga classes run by Cheryl, the onsite beauty therapist, and at night it acts as a beautiful outdoor dining room for dinner under the stars, which we experienced later that evening.
A short walk from the main resort building, passed the local kangaroos, keenly inspecting the latest visitors to their island, are the bungalows. Each bungalow has different decor, based on a theme, and is spotlessly clean. I don't know about you, but cleanliness of rooms is a big deal for me when I am travelling. I'm one of those people that just can't relax unless everything is clean, but there wasn't a single speck of dust in sight, nor even a single cobweb in the exposed beam ceiling.
While the bungalows are small, consisting only of a bedroom and bathroom, with a deck outside, complete with hammock for lazing in the sun, Paradise Bay isn't the type of place that you would want to visit and spend your time inside. Especially when you have a beautiful beach on one side and a national park on the other.
Each bungalow is fitted with only screens, in lieu of windows, so the sound of the waves slowly lapping at the beach can lull you to sleep at night, which is exactly what happened to me later that night, after a busy day and lots of good food and wine.
After an afternoon exploring the resort, and taking photos, I was then invited to the day spa by Cheryl, to enjoy an organic green tea salt therapy. The spa uses Sodashi products, and a green tea, eucalyptus and Himalayan salt scrub was applied to my skin to exfoliate and relax the muscles, which was just what I needed after 3 days of running around.
After a shower to remove the salt, this was followed by a massage with a beautifully scented moisturiser that was so relaxing I struggled not to fall asleep. Let's just say this is my excuse for forgetting to take photos of the treatment room. Yes, lets go with that.
After my spa session, and a quick change, we sat down to enjoy pre-dinner cocktails of Amaretto Sours in the main resort building, along canapés of tomato and basil crostini. Tomato and basil is such a simple combination of flavours, but always a favourite with me.
Our cocktails finished, we were then escorted to our beautiful table under the stars. The table had been covered with a white table cloth and decorated with candles and local flowers. And to ensure we weren't in the least bit cold Sophie provided us with blankets, which were tucked around us as we sat in our chairs, and a gas heater sat nearby to provide extra warmth, on what we were to later learn was the coldest night on the island in years. However we didn't feel the cold until later as delicious food, and one too many glasses of wine kept us warm and content.
Sophie quickly returned with the wine for our first course as Todd arrived with beautiful wooden boards topped with black figs, parmesan creme, parmesan wafers, warm honey, vino cotto and baby herbs. The figs were so plump and amazingly juicy. In fact, they were the best figs I've ever had. I reminded myself I had to find out where Todd sourced his produce and I later discovered what Todd is not able to source locally is from Growers Own.
Next came truffled asparagus with a porcini mushroom creme, a poached free range egg, shaved pecorino and a garnet amaranth. The egg was perfectly poached, the yolk oozing onto the plate as I cut it open, and the asparagus tender but still toothsome.
We were then presented with palate cleansing sorbets of pomegranate and lime granitas in the most gorgeous little glass bowls. It made the perfect between course refresher, and had us eagerly, if not greedily, anticipating our next dish.
Up next was an amazing vanilla and fromage risotto with baby basil and vintage balsamic and olive oil. I would never have thought to add vanilla bean to a cheese risotto, but, let me tell you, it was so amazingly good that in no time I'd cleaned my plate.
Roasted baby beetroot with black olive paint, hickory smoked pomme puree, potato chips, saffron eschallots, and dukkah was our next dish. I'm not normally a fan of anything smoked, but the hickory smoked puree had just enough smokiness without being overpowering, whilst adding a new dimension to the potato. And the roasted baby beets were deliciously sweet and earthy, just the way they should be.
Finally came dessert - a Belgium chocolate torte with cinnamon and ricotta beignets, buttermilk parfait and Persian fairy floss. The torte was delicious, however a little too sweet for me, as I tend to prefer my chocolate more on the bitter side, but the buttermilk parfait was divinely creamy and the beignets were soft and absolutely addictive.
Content, and very full, we made our way back to our bungalows to find a nightcap awaiting us, along with some fresh fruit. It's little touches like this that make you feel like a truly special guest.
After a restful nights sleep, listening to the waves crash onto the sand, the day started with a relaxing yoga class on the pool desk with Cheryl, which thankfully worked up an appetite as chef Todd had prepared a delicious buffet style breakfast that included yoghurt, fresh fruits, poached eggs, cheeses, freshly baked muffins, bread, croissants and fruit juices. It was a befitting farewell feast.
After breakfast it was sadly time to pack and prepare for the journey home, and say goodbye to Sophie, Todd, Cheryl and Scott, and head back to reality.
Paradise Bay Resort is a truly special resort, and I'd recommend it for those special times in your life - whether that be a small wedding (which they have hosted previously), honeymoon or babymoon. Or even a second honeymoon - which is what I have in mind for our next visit!
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WIN 2 nights at Paradise Bay
Want a chance to win a trip to paradise? Head to the Paradise Bay Resort Facebook page for your chance to win 2 nights accommodation, helicopter transfers, all meals and activities. The competition closes July 31st 2013.
Paradise Bay Resort
South Long Island
Delicious Everyday was a guest of Paradise Bay Resort and travelled to the Whitsundays with thanks to Whitsundays Tourism.