Expectations can be both a blessing and a curse when travelling. They can either create a hopeful benchmark for an experience – and a reason for an internal happy dance when exceeded – or they can set an impossibly high bar that will simply never be reached.
Despite having seen and heard so much about Elements of Byron, the newest resort in our hometown, it was with a little apprehension that we approached our first visit. Would it be everything we hoped for, or simply a new case of style and ambition over substance?
We’re pleased to say Elements was all we wanted from a Byron resort and so much more.
We had a fair idea what to expect from the new resort, much of it from word of mouth and online research. Absolute beachfront access, cantilevered day beds above the lagoon-style pool, the cosy sunken fire pit for those chilly nights… all of these were much-hyped elements of the resort, but it was the things we didn’t expect that really made the stay worthwhile.
First of all, it was the location and impact Elements has had on the site that won us over.
The resort currently features 94 private villas dotted amidst a 22-hectare site just to the west of Byron town centre, with an upcoming relaunch set to add a further 99 villas.
As a school student, I used to visit Byron Beach Resort – the previous occupiers the site – on a semi-regular basis for sport. Back then we would kayak in the lake at the centre of the property, venturing along the creek that flowed into the nearby Belongil estuary. It was an older-style resort which sadly hadn’t seen the love or attention it deserved in some time, and as a result the grounds were slowly being taken over by environmental weeds.
Now, however, the resort is an impressive example of how the right environmental vision and investment (not to mention more than 65,000 additional plants) can help rejuvenate a long-neglected site and also have a positive impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
To get an idea of the effort required to bring the property back to life, we joined the free bush-tucker tour led by resort Landscape & Experiences Manager Alastair Oakman.
During the hour-long walk we touched on the eco-ethos of the resort, tasted some of the bush-tucker that grows on the site (including local varieties we had no idea could be eaten), and learned of the abundant bird and wildlife who call this unique part of the world home.
Open for just over 18 months now, landscaping has no doubt softened the appearance of the resort’s modern villas, and helped create distinctive zones throughout the site.
The next thing to exceed expectations was our room for the night – a Dunal Villa.
Located near the beach in an area planted with coastal banksia and pandanus, carefully positioned amongst existing paper bark trees, the villa achieved the rare goal of looking better in person than it does in professional photos.
The beachy colour palette and driftwood shelving unit were standouts for Simon. For me, it was all about that bathtub – it was almost big enough to do laps in. Paired with a bottle of wine, some nice cheddar, and a few fresh figs, I was in heaven.
Our Dunal Villa featured a small sitting area with fireplace and television at the front door, large bedroom with tie-dye effect leather bedhead, a large vanity area, free standing bathtub and separate shower, a well-stocked mini bar, and desk with Bose sound system.
That evening we opted for the six-course degustation dinner at Graze Restaurant, which represented excellent value for money, and spent a good hour indulging in a few Brookie’s G&Ts, a bit of star gazing, and enjoying the crisp winter’s night by the heat of the fire pit.
With all this said, one element didn’t quite live up to our expectations. Food and beverage service at times bordered on being just slightly too casual, though I realise it must be hard to find the right balance for a five-star property and the casual vibe Byron is known for.
Having followed Elements’ journey before and after opening, it was good to finally have an opportunity to experience it all in the flesh. Though it’s still early days for this new five-star property, it has all the elements (pun intended) to be the best accommodation in town. The impending relaunch with the 99 new villas is all the excuse we need for a repeat visit.
– We stayed as guests of Elements of Byron, and dined at our own expense.
Learn more about Elements at: elementsofbyron.com.au
When You Go
Dunal Villas start at $505 per night. Check live rates at Booking.com
In October 2017, Elements of Byron will relaunch with a dozen new and revamped leisure areas including a new 25-metre adult-only pool with swim-up bar, an Eco Education Centre, and a timber children’s playground. It will also open 99 brand new villas, including 68 two-bedroom villas. In what is believed to be a world first Elements will also launch a two-carriage, solar-powered commuter train service to and from Byron town.