Chris Hemsworth. Matt Damon. Natalie Imbruglia. Pat Rafter.
The golden beaches, turquoise waters, and zen mentality are just some of the reasons celebrities from all around the world are drawn to the Australian town of Byron Bay.
Known as ‘Cavanbah’ among the local Arakwal People of the Bundjalung Nation, Byron Bay’s original title translates as the “meeting place”. Though little did the original landowners know how fitting this name would become, as surfers, backpackers, and tourists from all over the world descend upon the rather small town in northern New South Wales.
Byron Bay overflows with both energy and beauty, while at the same somehow offering a place where a chilled out vibe takes centre stage. Though there are two very distinct and opposite experiences here: one backpacker, one luxury.
After the latter?
Situated far away from the backpacker chaos, yet just a 10-minute drive from the colorful boutique shop windows and trendy cafes, Byron Bay’s award-winning beachfront resort Elements of Byron provides the type of experience that draws the world’s biggest celebrities.
Elements of Byron: How to Experience the Luxury of Byron Bay
The Resort Experience
Far removed from the backpacker “resorts” and youth hostels of touristy Byron, Elements of Byron offers peace and tranquility … the only noise you’ll hear at night is the sound of gently crashing waves!
The luxurious retreat seamlessly blends into the surrounding rainforest and culminates with a beach that stretches on as far as the eye can see. At first glance, the size of the resort may seem intimidating, but a handy map from reception details where all the highlights will be.
Offering up a range of private freestanding villas, accommodation options are suitable for a variety of budgets. The numerous private villas are all scattered throughout the lush grounds, offering a sense of seclusion despite the number of units.
Unlike traditional resorts, Elements of Byron presents itself like an affluent gated neighbourhood where you instantly feel upper-class. Walking the grounds, you get the sense that any moment you could bump into an incognito celebrity.
Even around the main lobby and giant central lagoon pool, you feel as though the resort is ultra-exclusive and seems void of crowds. This may be due to the fact there really is so much to do at the resort and this causes guests to spread out.
From sunrise to sunset, there seems to be a revolving array of activities, whether its tackling sunrise with some beachside yoga, enjoying an afternoon hike through the rainforest trails in search of wildlife, taking a sunset walk along the beach, or watching the fruit bats fill the skies as you snuggle up next to the fire pit at night.
The Pools (Plural)
With so much on offer at the resort, you may opt to avoid Byron’s main tourist trail altogether as we ended up doing. I wouldn’t blame you if you chose to skip Byron Bay itself just to lounge at one of the two incredible resort pools.
The main central lagoon pool is temperature controlled year-round and offers a range of lounging options. I made use of one of the hanging day beds to take advantage of the glorious autumn weather, but the private cabanas and the shade they offer would be ideal for warm summer days.
There’s plenty of room and seating to spread out and find your own little private oasis. You’ll also find a heated spa to sooth any aching muscles, and a communal fire pit area around the pool that comes alive as darkness falls.
We were lucky enough to have our villa located just steps from the exclusive adults only pool. Reserved for guests 18 years and older, we had the pool to ourselves on several occasions.
The stylish setting once again features private cabanas and plenty of sun loungers beneath the shade of umbrellas. The pool is further enhanced by what has to be the trendiest poolside bar I have experienced to date, but more on that under the below section for food.
And how can you beat a natural pool! The resort’s Beach Club offers sun loungers in the sand with direct private access to Belongil Beach where you can take a dip in the Pacific.
Photos of the Pools
Food and Drink
While each private villa is equipped with kitchenette facilities, there’s no need to cook your own food with so many great options throughout the resort, made to order for you.
The Azure Bar and Grill is open daily, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Start the day with a three egg omelette and bacon or watch your kid’s faces light up with buttermilk pancakes.
You’ll find delightful sushi rolls, seared scallops, and rock oysters for lunch, while dinner brings out an offering of pork and crab wontons, grilled local squid, wagyu tartare, and kingfish sashimi.
Swim or Swing at Summer Salt Bar
Being so close to our villa, we chose to eat at the Summer Salt Bar which is located within the exclusive adults only pool. Offering a range of fun and colourful Mexican finger food, we opted for the spicy grilled fish tacos served with avocado.
Taco in one hand and a Piñata Mojito made with Tarasco silver rum and cold pressed pineapple juice in the other, the adults only pool quickly became my version of heaven. The bar also serves up a range of refreshing margaritas including a frozen coconut flavour and a mezcal variety. Additional dishes include burritos, quesadillas, and frijoles.
What truly makes the Summer Salt Bar both unique and downright fun are the seating options. They’ve subbed out traditional bar stools for actual swings! If you don’t trust yourself sitting in a swing while being a bit tipsy, you also have the option of swimming up to the bar and sitting on a stool that rests below the surface of the water.
More Food Options
More dining and drinking options can be found at the lobby bar and fire pit area, both wonderful spots during the evening. Enjoy poolside food and drink service at the central lagoon pool, where you can order a range of smoothies and light snacks.
The seasonal Botanica Beach Club also serves light bites and drinks you can enjoy while watching the waves comes in.
Photos of the Food & Drink Experience
Elements of Byron offers plenty of activities suited for all ages. And all ages are welcome to kick start each morning with free sunrise yoga sessions overlooking the beach.
The location for the early yoga class is held in what is called the Heart of the Bay and it’s one of the first locations in Australia that see’s the sun rise, situated not too far from the mainland’s most easterly point. The session is complimentary and all yoga equipment is provided.
While yoga might provide you with enough fitness for one day, the resort would greatly appeal to fitness fanatics since it offers a 24-hour indoor gym and outdoor fitness circuit that runs along the edge of the rainforest.
Kids can stay active on the parkour-style playground which will help increase their strength, agility, and balance. It’s a bit Ninja Warrior mixed with just plain fun that will most likely even have you joining your kids to test your abilities.
You’ll also find a tennis court, giant chess set, and bocce courts to keep you amused, as well as a library in the lobby where you can grab a book for those rainy days.
As if the resort wasn’t relaxing enough, it also offers a world-class spa that provides almost any worthwhile treatment you could ask for.
Named for the striking eagle-like bird that sometimes visits the local shores, the Osprey Spa offers a range of massages including an aromatherapy relaxation massage, hot stone massage, and their signature full body massage that is sure to reinvigorate every part of your body from your head to your toes.
Elements of Byron offer 8 luxury freestanding villa options, all of which feature award-winning contemporary design. We found ourselves in a Botanica Villa, which was tucked in the private back corner of the resort near a beautiful giant fig tree.
Inside each Botanica Villa is a generous king size bed, and in the modern bathroom, a free-standing bath that managed to accommodate both me, my husband, and a whole lot of suds.
We took advantage of their unlimited free in-house movies, which we enjoyed while decked out in our comfy bathrobes and slippers. The villa also features a small kitchenette, living area, and convenient bar for dining. With 50 square metres to work with, we had plenty of space.
If you’re catching up on work, there’s a great study desk fitted with an ipad that features all the information on the resort and the many activities on offer. And I always find joy in a TV that greets you by name!
Should you not feel like leaving your comfortable villa, you have the option of ordering takeaway meals delivered to your door from the Azure Bar and Grill.
A Look Inside the Villa
Direct access to Belongil Beach has to be one of the main highlights of the resort. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards on weekends and school holidays, but is otherwise sparsely populated. You can enjoy a long sunrise or sunset walk and only pass a handful of other souls.
Lounge on beach chairs at the Beach Club or head out on a long walk along the shoreline. If you’re truly ambitious, you could technically walk all the way to Brunswick Heads some 10 kilometres to the north, since the beach is uninterrupted the entire way.
Should you work up a sweat along the way, you can easily take a refreshing dip in the ocean or possibly even strip off all your clothes in the designated “clothing optional” stretch of beach near the Tyagarah Nature Preserve and Beach access point.
Heads up: The clothing optional stretch of beach runs for approximately 400 metres south of the Tyagarah Beach parking lot and is well signposted.
Walking south along the beach from the resort, you need only cross the shallow inlet of Belongil Creek to head towards Cape Byron, passing Fisherman’s Lookout and the famous surfing spot known as The Pass.
Zephyr Horses offer personalized horse tours that lead directly from the resort down to the water’s edge. Saddle up on a Clydesdale or thoroughbred and take to the forested trails and beach sands. You’ll find a wide range of different rides available via this coastal ranch.
Wildlife enthusiasts will quickly fall in love with the resort’s 20 acres of native rainforest, wetlands, and sand dunes. Around 2 km of trails are provided, and the nearby Tyagarah Nature Preserve offers even more trails to seek out local wildlife.
Anyone with a keen eye will manage to come back with numerous photos of exotic birds. Vibrantly coloured rainbow bee-eaters, spangled drongos with their bright red eyes, rare beach-stone curlews, and striking brahminy kites all commonly spend time hunting along the shoreline.
Even walking around the resort, we saw plenty of rainbow lorikeets, comical brush turkeys, and several different honeyeaters. As darkness fell, the fruit bats would fly overhead each night and the local possums would rustle around in the trees as we walked back to our villa after dinner.
You can either explore the rainforest trails by yourself, or take advantage of one of the resort’s guided nature tours to get a more thorough understanding of the area’s diverse flora and fauna. Day trips can also be taken to check out nearby Minyon Falls, Killen Falls, and Marom Falls, all of which are less than a hour’s drive away.
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Access to Byron Bay Centre
You may find it difficult to want to leave the comfort of the resort, but should you wish to check out the centre of Byron, you can reach all the restaurants, cafes, and shops in less than ten minutes.
Byron Bay’s main centre is a fun place to check out, even though we much preferred to set ourselves up outside all the action and not leave Elements of Byron. We only decided to venture into the heart of the town after we had checked out of the resort.
Even celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and his wife Elsa Pataky knew it was wise to set themselves a fair distance from the heart of Byron, choosing to build their $20 million Byron Bay mansion in Broken Head overlooking Seven Mile Beach.
Byron Bay is a very artsy and intriguing place to walk around. We attempted to check out Cape Byron Lighthouse and the Most Easterly Point of the Australian Mainland, but the traffic proved to be a bit much. Not wanting to join the crowds walking up the steep hill from the lower car parks, we decided to check out the much quieter Arakwal National Park and Tallow Beach just to the south of town.
For those wanting a taste of touristy Byron, you can easily drive into town, or take advantage of the world’s first solar powered train. Catch the train at North Beach, just a short walk from the resort, and enjoy a ten minute journey into Byron Town Centre.
The journey by train costs less than $10 return and runs once an hour between 10 and 5. The resort also offers electric bikes for hire.
How to Book
Whether you choose to explore Byron Bay on two wheels, horse hooves, or train tracks, be sure to put this eastern Australian paradise on your bucket list.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or fun-filled family getaway, Elements of Byron delivers on so many levels. It offers the tranquillity of what Byron Bay once offered before it became known to the outside world, and provides everything you need for the ultimate beachside getaway.
Visit elementsofbyron.com.au for more information, or to make a booking.
And keep an eye out for Chris Hemsworth!
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