*As seen in The Logbook
When a business has its roots in passion and teamwork, innovation and growth come naturally while challenges are embraced as opportunities to improve and develop. Embodying this philosophy, Kristie Kaighin founded Whitsunday Holidays in 2003 after falling in love with Hamilton Island in Australia.
“My husband Leigh and I went on holiday to Hamilton Island the year before in 2002,” she explains, “Really in an effort to escape the Melbourne winter. After we fell in love with the climate, life style and the natural beauty of the region we made the decision to relocate and the holiday operating business was set up soon after.”
And now, not only are they one of the most prominent holiday operators on Whitsunday and Hamilton Island, but they are also one of the most experienced. Operating with a reservation team which has grown with their portfolio and a team of staff members as passionate about the area as the founder.
“We have all lived on Hamilton Island at some point,” Kristie says, “So our team has uniquely intimate knowledge of everything there is to do, and all The Whitsundays have to offer.”
The Whitsundays comprise of over 74 tropical, sun-drenched islands ideally located off the east coast of Queensland. There are so many holiday options and so much to do in the Whitsundays that it can be difficult to know where to start when planning your holiday. This is where Whitsunday Holidays can help by offering clients first-hand local knowledge and unbiased advice. Providing a holiday experience completely suited to their goals.
A PASSION BUSINESS
Working with an extensive and growing number of regular clients, Whitsunday Holidays is a rare example of real organic growth in the hospitality industry. Going from strength to strength thanks to repeat guests and strong word of mouth referrals, Kristie has seen it grow from concept and birth.
“In my previous life,” she remarks, “I worked in the Melbourne corporate world in project management. While it definitely gave me useful skills and experience in how to manage a business, I couldn’t imagine going back to it.”
Of course, running any business comes with its challenges. Today the hospitality and travel market is a highly saturated one and competition amongst destinations and operators is as fierce as ever. This being said, Kristie’s approach is to combine the best locations that offer the most luxurious comforts with the best customer services and real “insider” information.
Working with four reservations consultants, some of which have lived on Hamilton Island for several years and know the area inside and out, Kirstie believes firmly in a first-hand service. This allows them to provide excellent local knowledge when helping their guests choose the best option for their stay.
Their team at Whitsunday Holidays is always developing their knowledge for the area, especially Hamilton island. Having all lived and worked in the stunning Whitsundays they have viewed every single Hamilton Island property on the website. And, on many of them they’ve spent a bit of extra time sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine and taken in the stunning Whitsunday water views… all for the purposes of research of course!
“We inspect all of our properties every two to three months,” Kristie says, “This ensures that our team are knowledgeable and can provide first-hand experience to our guests.”
They have 60 privately owned properties ranging from 1 bedroom through to 5-bedroom luxury homes. The 2-bedroom options are very popular as they cater for the average family of 2 adults and 2 children. The most popular properties are the beach front apartments, Hibiscus, Lagoon and Frangipani as well as the Shorelines stays.
Every Whitsunday Holidays property has been exclusively selected by Kristie and guests can choose from one or two bedroom self-contained apartments, resort style homes, or luxury properties with opulent features and fittings. Whether guests are craving an intimate romantic getaway or a fun family gathering there is an option to suit.
CHANGING TRENDS AND INNOVATION
Hamilton Island is an all year-round holiday destination and its popularity has been consistent over the sixteen years that Kristie has run her business. The island is the perfect choice for families, couples and groups wanting an island getaway. There is so much to do and see, although choosing to do nothing but lazing by the pool is also completely allowed.
For those wanting to see the surrounding islands, Kristie is very happy to oblige. Whitsunday Holidays also offer Whitsunday Sailing Charters and Whitsunday Bareboat Charters which enables guests the freedom to explore the region by boat.
“Irrespective of a guest’s ability or budget we can arrange something that fits,” she says, “Including self-skippered charters, fully crewed sailing yachts or luxury motor yacht charters to add that little bit of indulgent adventure for the perfect holiday experience.”
According to her, Whitsunday Holidays have reinvented the holiday booking process with their unique, personalised reservations, experienced team and unparalleled knowledge of the area. This has earned them the reputation for being the best at what they do. Kristie explains that this is almost entirely down to their care and commitment not only to the family business but the families that are staying in their properties.
“I’m very proud of our first-class customer service,” Kristie says, “Our team are available seven days a week to offer their first-hand experience and local knowledge and it’s this depth of knowledge that has allowed us to dig in and really personalise our service.”
When potential guests make an enquiry, the team pays careful attention to their requirements and will make recommendations based on group size, budget, timeframe and expectations.
“We’re not a call centre,” Kristie points out, “We genuinely care about our guests, and know they expect quality. This is why the personal experience our staff have with the properties counts for so much. It helps them to recommend based on first-hand accounts.”
Furthermore, as the number one choice for Hamilton Island accommodation, the premium service that they offer begins right at the start of a holiday. Upon arrival at the airport a valet service meets the guest and chauffeurs them to the accommodation. Many other linked services are offered at the properties to make things even more convenient, such as pre-ordering groceries, access to local knowledge and advice, and tour recommendations based on individual tastes.
“Last year was a very busy one for us,” Kristie reveals, “Many of our luxurious homes completed their rebuilds after Cyclone Debbie in the early part of 2019 and one in particular that was released back into holiday letting late last year was Villa Illalangi.”
The newest product is the new ‘Hidden Cove’ development on Hamilton Island where they have a luxury two-bedroom option available in the development that will offer new and current clients an even better selection of places to stay.
Further plans for this year include a new guest focussed e-newsletters and social media development. Kristie reveals they are currently offering 10% off and the 6th night free for Feb and March across their range of luxury properties. And that, as they are available seven days a week for their on island guests as well as potential new guests, they are always on hand to make sure that everything is accounted for.
“This is part of our belief in customer focus and I believe this makes us stand out from other agents,” she says, “The guest experience is everything. It’s time to make those special memories.”
PRICE: From $330 to $6000 per night. Depending on the accommodation.
Within Australia: 1300 653 997
International: +61 434 004 029