WOW! It's a wonderful world Posted 9 August 2014 Pool. Resort. Sun. It’s my happy place. A trifecta of goodness rolled into hours of luxury spent mostly horizontal. It goes without saying that qualia delivers. Yet its new Weekends of Wonderment series is worth getting up for. Lucky enough to experience the inaugural meet-the-maker, artisanal-themed weekend first hand, I was greeted with a glass of champagne and keys to an island buggy. With the intimate group of guests staggered for arrival, a couple of hours were spent making tough decisions; what temperature should we make the private plunge pool? Which of the 120 complimentary films should we watch? Should I have an indoor or an outdoor shower? We decide on taking a leisurely drive to Hamilton Island’s Front Street, but growling stomachs lead us back to qualia’s Jurassic Park gates and down to Pebble Beach. Mouthwatering lobster, prawns, oysters and crabs are washed down with a generous glass of champagne that starts to flow like water. It’s an intimate and relaxing opportunity to meet fellow guests who, like me, are lovers of all things luxury. Post-lunch, it’s a quick drink of sunshine before a little laid-back workshop with Elise Balzac, whose Australian-made candle brand is coveted by the world’s coolest international boutiques such as Bergdorf’s, 10 Corso Como in Milan, and Colette in Paris. Raised in France where she went on to work at Hermes, and later as a luxury fashion buyer in Australia, the super stylish candle Queen has us stirring, sniffing and pouring scented soy wax into glass jars and bottles. We toast our success with drinks on the helipad at sunset. With views out to Great Barrier Reef islands, qualia’s exclusive, open-air Long Pavilion is our breathtaking venue for dinner. I am mesmerised by the infinite, calm waters and inky sky. That is until dinner arrives and my eyes move to my plate, transfixed at the work of art before me. Created by qualia’s Executive Chef Alastair Waddell, it’s an inventive and fresh tasting menu that, like all the other artisans I meet on this weekend, is locally made with the utmost care. Butternut pumpkin is paired with sweet corn ‘ice cream,’ while malted oats, toasted hay and bee pollen gently transitions our palates from main course to dessert. The next morning it’s yoga in the open-air pavilion at Spa qualia, followed by tropical fruits and coffee delivered to my pavilion before a hands-on crabbing experience. Decked out in my boating best, the resort’s trusty skipper sails us out to meet expert crabber and marine biologist, Matt Vickers where I catch my very first sustainable mud crab. After a luxury island picnic it’s back to qualia for a very special experience with the talented Saskia Havekes, the owner of Australia’s best and most beautiful florists, Grandiflora. Strewn with flowers, tables are piled high with palm fronds, banksias and orchids that Havekes has lovingly transported all the way from Melbourne. Enthralled, there’s a collective silence as Havekes takes us along her journey – from 3am flower markets to her new fragrance, and skill in being able to decipher any flower blindfolded based on scent alone. It’s a passion of vocation that I see glinting in the eyes of all the small-scale creatives I am lucky to meet this weekend. At the mercy of this master (our humble tutor neglects to tell us about working with Chanel, Hermès, and Louis Vuitton), we have a go with our own secateurs, learning how to ‘flower arrange’ like a pro. The result? Well, they say it’s about the journey… We cap off the weekend with dinner prepared by the award-winning Mark Best whose Sydney-based restaurant, Marque, has been featured in Restaurant Magazine’s ‘Worlds best 50 Restaurants.’ Dinner is so fresh it’s as if the bounty was caught only just before sitting down. That’s because it was. Mud crab and Macadamia is first up, paired with a Semillon from the Hunter Valley. Best personally details our menu before each serving but where the wine goes the conversation flows and by midnight the only thing left to do is ‘cheers!’ To a creative and wonderful weekend.