Sitting by the beach with a gin and tonic in hand is the best start to any seaside getaway. Add a retro-styled beach bar and a child trying to crash tackle a wallaby and you know you’re someplace special. Welcome to Byron Bay, and the beach-chic Elements of Byron resort. I’m pleased to report the kid wasn’t fast enough to catch the nimble wallaby who made a hasty exit to the adjacent bushland. Excitement over, we settled back into our beach chairs at the Botanica Bar surrounded by the fresh sea breeze and equally cool tunes from a retro-styled ‘caravan bar’.
As we soaked up the style and charm of Elements of Byron it was easy to see why this place has won so many awards. The Elements of Byron resort is a modern eco beach-chic village located in a natural beach bushland setting adjoining a pristine stretch of sand. It is also conveniently situated on Belongil Beach in Byron Bay and comes with an equally stylish set of dining choices, swimming pools and the Osprey Spa which needs to be booked way in advance. The beach near the resort is beautiful but unfortunately not patrolled so we stuck with the pools.
Accommodation at Elements consists of 94 eco-friendly studios and villas that blend through the 50-acre bushland resort and come with a range of aspects from native bushland, sand dunes or wetland views. Each villa is situated to have privacy but as with most resorts, some are better than others. It is worth doing some research and requesting one of the more private locations when you book. Rooms can’t be guaranteed but it’s still worth making the request.
When arriving at the resort you’re met with a large modern open air reception area that is designed to mimic the rolling sand dunes of the bay. This is the heart of the resort and houses Azure Bar and Grill Restaurant and the Lobby Bar and Fire Pit which is perfect for a cocktail on a chilly evening. Perhaps the thing I noticed most was the large number of staff located throughout the area who provided a warm welcome and ensured guests who were waiting in the lobby were being looked after. The friendly, proactive staff members were a major highlight of our stay at this resort.
At check-in we received the keys to a Superior 2 Bedroom Villa and a map of the resort and briefing on the restaurants, bars, facilities, and opening times. With map in hand (we needed it, the resort is huge) we made our way to our villa located on the western edge of the resort and parked outside. Our accommodation was only a minute away from reception by car or buggy or a lazy five minute stroll. We were impressed with the villa’s spacious, modern design and the bush aspect of the room, and enjoyed the large screened off sunroom with a fan and heater.
Other areas in the villa included two king bed bedrooms with large bathrooms which were very roomy and had air conditioning and also beautiful bush views. The living and kitchen areas were spacious but lacking in a few critical areas where form had won out over function. The kitchen was large but skipped a proper fridge in favour of two bar fridges (one of which served as a mini bar). Neither fridge had a ‘proper’ freezer with a door. Even for a short two night stay, we had trouble storing our food. There was no oven for making pizzas or similar heat-and-eat dishes.
Fortunately the lack of kitchen amenities was made up for by the many dining venues available at the resort with some exceptional choices on offer. Azure Bar and Grill serves Mod-Oz cuisine with local flavours and Summer Salt Bar dishes up excellent Cal-Mex dishes in casual surrounds. If in-villa dining is your thing, the extensive in-room dining menu has got you covered with everything from eye fillet steak to burgers and wood-fired pizzas. You can enjoy them in the sunroom while listening to the kookaburras and other birds. Poolside and beach dining is also available.
Our favourite venues at the resort were the beachside Botanica Bar with its retro-styled caravan and the adults-only pool where we discovered Summer Salt. The adults-only pool is chilled out in the morning, then the vibe heats up in the late afternoon when the ‘beautiful people’ arrive. The Summer Salt bar has a swim up pool bar and swings instead of seats on the ‘dry’ side of the bar and you can have drinks and Cal-Mex dishes delivered to your pool bure. The Botanica Bar is equally cool and perfect for an early wine, beer or a G&T accompanied by the sound of the waves.
If you have breakfast included in your room rate, you can choose from an extensive continental buffet and order hot dishes from an a la carte menu. One point to note is during peak times the a la carte option is replaced with a hot and cold buffet and not available. There is an outdoor chess set which comes with kookaburras who laugh when you make a dumb move, and bush lined walking trails winding through the resort. One more quirky attraction adjacent to the resort is the retro-themed Byron Bay Solar Train which has antique motor train cars.
The solar-powered train travels from Byron Bay to North Beach (where Elements of Byron is located) on an hourly timetable. This not-for-profit service offers a unique travel experience and a terrific way to get to and from the Byron Bay township and back with a relaxing 15-minute ride. Elements of Byron is an exceptional accommodation option located in one of Australia’s most iconic beachside towns. Judging by the number of well-travelled local and international guests at the resort, word has spread when it comes to this first class resort.
Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of Elements of Byron. He was too slow to take a photo of the rapidly disappearing wallaby and settled for another G&T instead.
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