It’s the hippie beach-town-turned-holiday-playground for the hipster set and A-listers alike – to the point some locals now refer to it as ‘Far North Bondi’ – so it stands to reason Byron Bay is evolving in its hotel offerings too.
While Raes at Wategos has long been the go-to for the cool, cashed-up boutique crowd and the Byron at Byron offered a premium, rainforest-ensconced experience, the most recent major addition to the town’s hospitality buffet has raised the bar above and beyond.
Elements of Byron is a resort as sprawling and expansive as it is exclusive. It ticks all the standard boxes you’d expect of a five-star resort: beautiful room design, luxurious spa, spacious main pool, manicured gardens, sensational breakfast buffet, decadently large in-room baths, chauffeured buggies and a well-stocked cocktail bar connecting the main pool to the art-peppered foyer.
The new adult-only pool is beyond and there’s no shortage of famous names and faces who’ve checked in since its opening in 2016. (Amongst its most recent A-list guests, Pink and her family during her 2018 tour.)
That said, what makes this 120-million-dollar resort special – and indeed, what it’s quickly clocking up both an international reputation and industry awards for – are all the bits you can’t see. Founding its design and operations around a philosophy of sustainability, nature and ecology, there’s plenty about this place that will appeal to the growing throng of fashion-focused travellers who care about the planet and disconnecting from the urban rush, but don’t want to sacrifice luxury.
It also helps that all that minimalist, nature-inspired architecture and interior design serves as a dream backdrop for committed social media fans – because, let’s be real, if you don’t ‘gram it, were you ever really there? Here are 5 things eco-savvy travellers will love about Elements of Byron Bay.
- IT’S CLOSE TO BYRON, BUT NOT TOO CLOSE.
There are so many fantastic things to love about the shops, cafes and businesses around Byron’s CBD – including Spell and the Gypsy’s stunning global flagship store, which is a mecca for lovers of bohemian fashion – but the flip side (thousands of tourists, many drunk, noisy bars, limited car parking, heavy traffic) hardly makes for a relaxing vacay. Elements’ location on the outskirts of town, extending across 50 acres of luscious rainforest and interconnected tea tree lakes alongside Byron’s iconic Belongil Beach, means you’re just a short drive from the action, but far away enough you can completely escape if and when you choose. When the mood takes you to trip into town, just jump about the world’s first solar-powered train, which hubs at a station right outside Elements’ front gate and has won sustainability awards in its own right, too.
- YOU CAN GET BACK TO NATURE WHILE YOU WORK OUT.
How does a guided horse ride through the local rainforest sound? Perhaps a guided ocean kayak through an area regularly frequented by whales, dolphins and giant sea turtles? Or starting the day with sunrise yoga by the beach, a daily fixture at Elements for all guest that’s one of its most popular. What about a free-diving lesson or scuba session arranged through a nearby dive shop? (GRAZIA did the second, and yes, I did see several beautiful turtles and sharks up close, albeit tiny ones.) If lying on a sunbed around the adults-only pool all day isn’t your thing, there are countless ways to reconnect with nature to suit any adrenaline level.
- EACH SMART VILLA HAS AN ECO-CONSCIENCE OF ITS OWN.
There’s no such thing as mere rooms here. Rather, guests stay in their own self-contained, rainforest-surrounded cabin on stilts, complete with mini (or in some cases maxi) kitchen area and separate lounge room. All of the structures contain elements (no pun intended) of sustainability and environmental consideration via their architecture and interior design. Each ‘smart villas’ is constructed to minimise energy and water consumption (so you needn’t feel guilty filling that enormous white free-standing bath), and passive solar and a water sensitive urban design contribute to increasing energy efficiency. Each villa also houses an Energy Management System to monitor individual energy use, just part of the reason the resort was recognised by the Australian Institute of Architects with its Sustainability Award 2017. The feature timber decks, inbuilt fireplaces and luxurious veranda bathhouses are as pleasing on the eye as they are the environment. (Yes, the latter is every bit as delicious an experience as it sounds.)
- YOU’RE IN FOR A TRULY LOCAL NATURE IMMERSION.
Bryon Bay’s famed for its bohemian culture, but it’s also a shire whose inhabitants are famously forward-thinking when it comes to being eco-conscious and ‘going green’. This might be a $120m property, but it still composts and recycles organic food. Its gardens include only local fauna and are home to 19 rare and endangered species. In late 2018, an Eco Education centre featuring market gardens will open adjacent to the property to help educate and inspire guests on sustainable living and food practices. “Nature has always been a starting and primary point for our inspiration and design. Developments to the property during its lifetime will maintain that philosophy and ethos,” says Jeremy Holmes, Development Director of Elements of Byron.
- THE SPA IS A HAVEN FOR HEALTH-CONSCIOUS ECO-TRIPPERS TOO.
The most recent addition to this two-year-old property is its wellness sanctuary, called Osprey Spa, which offers all of the pamperings you’d expect of a five-star facility. While the treatment rooms are lovely, each with a private outdoor courtyard garden and stone bathtub, it’s the shared recovery zone that will steal any Scandi-design-obsessed heart. Blonde-hued driftwood crafted together into custom-made communal relaxation beds. “The palette is bleached and sun-kissed – overlaid with a soft pinky sunset haze,” says Interior Designer Rowena Cornwell. Little wonder it’s become a go-to for Byron locals and even travelers not staying at the resort. Fun fact: the giant pots dotted around the spa are from the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales movie set.
Elements of Byron villas start at $650 AUD per night and include complimentary Wi-Fi, unlimited in-house movies and daily sunrise yoga.
GRAZIA stayed as a guest of Elements of Byron.