RESORT REVIEW: Elements of Byron – Byron Bay, Australia

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Elements of Byron – Beach Lounge in the early morning sun. All photography by Lara Antonelli-Leorke.

From the lush and magical hinterland to the stunning and magnetic sea, Byron Bay is a uniquely captivating place that is impossible to resist. Whether you’re seeking to indulge in holistic habits, discover adventure among the wildlife or enjoy the fine dining Byron boasts, the vibe is the same from Belongil to Tallow – this is the place to come to chill out and slow down.

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For years now, Byron has been a most sought after holiday destination, and is notorious for getting rather packed in the main part of town. It comes with much relief that a brand new luxury beachfront resort has opened its gates, in the form of Elements of Byron. This one hundred million dollar, 50 acre resort opened in February of this year and is only 3km from the centre of town, boasting 94 stand-alone villas amidst a natural landscape of littoral rainforest, ponds and lakes. As its name suggests, Elements has taken inspiration from its surroundings and endeavoured to fit into its scenery, incorporating soft lines, natural colours and single level constructions to its architecture. The layout weaves and flows, with sections of the resort cleverly rolling into one another with fluidity so that there is much to discover and plenty of space to roam, giving you a true sense of freedom and adventure. The sprawling facade of the Elements entrance welcomes you with a calm and sophisticated air, as the spacious lobby area adjoins the Drift Bar and Graze Restaurant, with a view of the dramatic fire pit and infinity pool beyond. This main pavilion building has high ceilings and glass doors, with no walls to divide spaces, making it feel open and in harmony with the external environment.

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With a nod to the bohemian artisan history of Byron, along with its unique flora and fauna, the reception exhibits colourful glass blown works by local artist Noel Hart, which depict five Australian Black Cockatoo species (including the locally endangered coastal red-tailed Black Cockatoo).

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Water babies rejoice as the turquoise lagoon pool at Elements is a truly spectacular one. Cleverly designed to allow interaction and seclusion, its curved shape is flanked by the Graze Restaurant, Drift Bar, Barefoot Kiosk and Osprey Spa, making it an easily accessible focal point. It boasts pillowed daybeds with adjustable screens to protect from wind and sunshine, comfy crescent shaped settees, super cool over-water hanging lounges, and wooden sunlounges immersed in water to promote bare feet and happy souls. Complete with heated spa, gradual incline (perfect for paddling babies and lazing adults alike) and serviced by attentive staff, you’ll find it hard to move from your chosen daybed in the sun, propped up on pillows whilst sipping an ice cold Sauvignon and munching on a sizeable club sandwich… or floating in the pool whilst you gaze at the large expanse of blue sky above you. And due to the pool not being heated, you may find that you’re the only brave soul that takes the plunge, yet you will be rewarded with a refreshing dip and the lagoon all to yourself.

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Beyond the luxury of the resort pool is a ramble of grass and gum trees from which curved cane chairs hang romantically, where you can sit and swing whilst enjoying a cocktail or reading a book. Along the path you will pass the Botanica Villas and Beachside Villas, until you reach the breathtaking Beach Lounge area, which really is the key selling point of Elements. From here you can easily access the spectacular Belongil Beach that stretches out towards Cape Byron lighthouse and Julian Rocks in the distance. From the comfort of an extravagantly large daybeds with accompanying umbrellas, you can view the tidal estuary that carves its way through the soft, squeaky sand, carrying with it water that has been stained with the brilliant hues of crimson and cobalt from the nearby Tea Tree forest.

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Sunrises and sunsets here are what dreams are made of. From the gold laced amber warmth of the sunrise, to the soft pastel pinks and baby blues of the sunset, the view over Belongil Beach from Elements is phenomenal. Up on the hill next to the lounges is an elevated grassy area used for weddings, special events and morning yoga (although disappointingly it was deemed “too cold” during our stay for any yoga to happen in that beautiful spot, so we went there ourselves and did some sunrise stretching), and is a perfect vantage point to search for the tell-tale tale splash or spray plume of whales and dolphins enjoying the paradise that is Byron.

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Meandering back along the path, past the tennis courts and nestled amongst lantern bearing eucalyptus and banksia trees are the Lagoon Edge Villas. Overlooking the natural lake, these villas feature easy access ramp entrances with outdoor settings on balconies overlooking the water. The interior is light and modern with honey floorboards throughout, an open-plan design kitchenette and sitting area separated by steps up to the bedroom, open wardrobe and central bathroom with sliding doors. The bathroom comprised of stand-alone bathtub, walk in shower with waterfall shower-head, separate toilet and Appelles Apothecary amenities.

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Sunsets from the balcony of the Lagoon Edge Villa were gorgeous, as frogs and ducks sang from the water and the lanterns in the trees glowed. The balcony was a prefect spot to enjoy a drink or dinner from the Graze Restaurant’s room service menu, which differs substantially to the sit down restaurant menu. Our experience when dining at Graze of an evening was exceptional, even if a little chaotic as it would appear many guests opt to enjoy their meal in the restaurant. The food at Elements is good, even if on the pricey side. There are not many options for food that are within 20 minute’s walk of the resort, so you’ll no doubt have tried every dish on the lunch menu if you’re staying several days, however they are generous serves and always fresh and tasty. Breakfast at the resort was always a pleasure, as you could sit in the alfresco area overlooking the pool with exceptionally friendly staff and a buffet of yummy pastries, fresh fruit, cereals and the usual suspects. Breakfast off the menu looked sensational (although we were quite content with the buffet) and coffees supplied by local Marvell St Coffee were amazing.

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Elements of Byron is the perfect balance of laid-back luxury amidst natural Australian surrounds – it doesn’t try too hard to be anything other than what it truly is – a well-equipped resort that seeks to promote the beauty of the area it lives in.

As a brand new resort, Elements is popular with families and couples alike, so here are some points for the resort and future guests to consider when staying:

The villas are perfect for couples, but due to being split-level, they obviously aren’t designed to be ‘child friendly’. A way to combat this would be for the resort to offer guests with young children a safety gate across the steps separating the lounge and bedroom areas, for ease of use and peace of mind. If you have a pram then stay in the villas that offer ramps, as they are a dream to get in and out of. If you are staying for more than a couple of nights with a little one, then opt for the two bedroom villa – you will be thankful for some extra space and another room to put your little one to sleep in. It’s also an extra area for them to play.

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Be aware that there is no ‘kids pool’. The pool is glorious of course and has a clever paddling area design, however most of the older kids opted for the spa (as the pool was either too cold or too deep for them), so couples will have to be prepared to share the spa with other kids (and their sandy feet). There is an ‘adults only’ section, where the hanging lounges are situated (much to the dismay of most of the kids) but it will be interesting to see whether this area – which is not separated by gates, only stairs leading down – will stay a kid free zone for long.

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Elements looks to blossom into a very luxurious family friendly resort, that still allows for the privacy, seclusion and serenity that couples crave. Given its size and the fact that it is building a further 96 villas in its second stage, there is potential for further evolving of ‘kid friendly’ activities and ‘adult only’ zones.

And speaking of activities, by far our favourite organised through the resort was the phenomenal beach and forest horse riding via Zephyr Horses, whose ranch is only a few hundred metres from the resort. You can see the gorgeous horses of Zephyr roaming the lush green paddocks flanking the left side of the resort, and when you go riding with Kate and the girls you’ll find that embracing Byron Bay by horseback is the way to go!

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Elements of Byron is a truly remarkable place and is off to a tremendous start. We are excited for it to become the place of dreams for couples and families alike, who will get to enjoy the beauty of the environment around them, whilst soaking in the luxurious atmosphere of the resort, wanting to return again and again.

We are already dreaming of our return.

If you would like to find out more about Elements of Byron, or to book, head to: http://www.elementsofbyron.com.au/en/

Stay tuned for Pen To Paper’s Destination : Byron Bay article, with more highly recommended activities and restaurants, coming soon!

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