Review: Elements of Byron delivers a perfect mix of beach and bush
We check into Byron’s only beachfront resort: home to an adults-only retreat, solar train, day spa and more.
Elements of Byron
2-Bedroom Luxury Villa
- Well-equipped villa and modern fit-out
- Adults only pool with swim-up bar
- Study nook uncomfortable for extended time
- Dinner service slow due to limited staff
- A luxurious way to reconnect with nature
Byron Bay is a small town with a huge reputation. It’s a global mecca for young and old, famed equally for its beaches and lush hinterland as its acclaimed restaurants and full calendar of events appealing to almost every interest and taste.
Surprisingly, only one resort truly takes advantage of the town’s beachside location: Elements of Byron, which straddles the shore of Belongil just north of Byron’s compact centre.
Yet it’s not just beach access that helps this resort stand out from the pack.
Location & Impressions
Situated barely 10 minutes from town, Elements is a five-star resort boasting 193 freestanding villas, a central lagoon and adults-only pool, two bars, a restaurant and cafe – all nestled amid a scenic bushland setting.
Despite its scale, Elements of Byron feels quite low-key thanks to clever design. Gardens are well established, and every villa is positioned to fade into the landscape. This allows the site’s natural charms such as rainforest trees or the reed-lined lagoon to take centre stage.
Check-in takes place within the main building, crafted to resemble a sand dune from above and home to the primary restaurant and bar. A waterfall-edged pool and firepit (a great spot for evening drinks), day spa and gym all radiate from this space.
Interpretive signage along the winding road network and gravel paths highlights the plant species and wildlife inhabiting the resort. (The distinct ‘oo-wip’ call of whip birds and squawking of Black Cockatoos are frequent companions as you explore.)
Parking is conveniently provided for one car alongside each villa, with a two-bay EV charging station in the visitor car park.
Stepping into our Luxury Villa, the connection to the environment diminishes rather abruptly. The walls, kitchen cabinetry and island bench are crisp and white; timber accents, faux greenery and cream drapes and sheers softening the sharp lines.
While tastefully done, it would be nice to see a few local connections, considering Byron is brimming with photographic subjects, from the lighthouse atop Walgun-Cape Byron to the wreck peeking out of the water at Belongil.
Around a third of this two-bedroom villa encompasses the kitchen and open plan living area: the L-shaped lounge, a cocooning communal space facing a wall-mounted TV, leading through to a square deck enclosed by insect screens.
The kitchen is fitted with a stove, dishwasher and coffee machine, plus an assortment of teas. There’s also a minibar stocked with rum from Husk Distillers in Tweed and Brookie’s Gin.
A washer and dryer are also tucked inside a cupboard at the right of the kitchen.
At the end of a long hall, you’re presented with two options: turn left for the master bedroom, bathroom and open-air ‘bath house’, or right to access the second bedroom and ensuite.
In the master, a king-size bed takes pride of place against a subtle blue and white feature wall; lamps and striplighting imbue the space with a warm, inviting atmosphere.
Speaking of inviting, the bath house – a semi-outdoor room with louvres on one side and a deep, soaking tub – calls out to be visited at least once. Having a glass of bubbles in hand is a good idea too.
While it’s safe to assume no one can see into the room, one of the resort’s walking trails begins next to the villa and leads through the bush behind, so it doesn’t hurt to keep the window shutters angled for privacy.
Those travelling with another couple or children will appreciate the option of a second bedroom, which can be customised to include a king size or twin beds. An ensuite ensures there are no long waits for the bathroom.
Smart televisions are provided in the lounge and both bedrooms, each one featuring streaming functionality which, let’s be honest, is practically mandatory these days.
Elements is all about relaxation. But, if you do need to do a little work, there are two stools at the island bench, plus a small office nook alongside the kitchen.
The nook isn’t the most comfortable space for an extended period though – a solid timber swivel stool is the only seating option, making it better suited as a spot to scribble down notes on the provided pencil and pad, or browse the iPad compendium.
The enclosed deck, on the other hand, does make a good space to spread out and tap away. The dining table is wide, seats nicely cushioned, and an overhead fan provides good circulation (essential in this sub-tropical climate).
Complimentary WiFi is included, although at 10Mbps down and 8Mbps up it’s adequate without being blazingly fast
Azure Bar & Grill opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with two separate spaces to choose from: an al fresco terrace and bar, and a formal dining area inside.
It’s a bright, colourful venue with a chilled lounge soundtrack and ambience befitting its poolside setting. The views of the sub-tropical gardens and pool area add to its relaxed feel.
Those after more casual fare will find a poolside cafe on the far side of the lagoon pool, while grown-ups after a bit of RnR can head to the adults-only Summer Salt Bar and pool for drinks and light bites.
Dinner at Azure is a relaxed, Italian-infused affair. Service during our mid-week visit is unhurried yet knowledgeable, with the host more than happy to pair wines to suit our choices.
The evening kicks off with a couple of cocktails: Rhubarb & Friends, made with gin mixed with rhubarb, citrus and fennel-infused vermouth, and a non-alcoholic Amalfi Spritz.
We opt to share all of our dishes: Peruvian ceviche, stuffed zucchini flowers and scallops, followed by a lamb ragu pappardelle, plus pork belly with an apple croquette and witlof salad and greens.
Each dish is perfectly presented and seasoned, with matched wines a stellar accompaniment.
For breakfast, Azure offers a selection of classics and local favourites, such as eggs your way to buttermilk pancakes, an acai bowl with fresh fruit and muesli, and an Elements Nourish Bowl of kale, black quinoa, avocado, and pickled shiitake mushrooms.
Day one, I choose the acai bowl (when in Byron…).
Day two, I can’t resist a good old eggs benedict with Bangalow ham. Neither dish disappoints.
Relaxation is assured almost the moment you set foot inside Elements – and its location is a key reason for that. Amid the bush, it feels far removed from the hurried pace of life.
Of course, multiple pools, direct beach access, and sunrise yoga sessions help too, as does the onsite Osprey Day Spa, which is open exclusively to guests only.
Osprey offers an array of tailored experiences from massage to exfoliation and facials, as well as signature spa rituals that can be enjoyed solo or as a couple in double treatment suites.
Belongil Beach is on the resort’s doorstep. The Beach Lounge – a crescent-shaped corner of sand fringed by deck chairs and home to a caravan coffee shop – is positioned at the gated beach entrance, and enjoys a fine view to the lighthouse atop the cape.
When you want to explore, town is a short drive or a relaxed walk along the beach away.
For something different, catch the Byron Bay solar train – the first of its kind in the world. North Byron Station is just an easy stroll from the lobby, with the scheduled 10-minute train ride into town departing daily between 10am and 5:30pm.
Feeling a little more adventurous? You can also saddle up for a Zephyr horse ride, from early morning treks along the shoreline to exploring the resort’s extensive trail network.
Elements is a resort with considerable appeal for most travellers, be it young or older couples after an escape, families looking to spend their days alternating between the beach and lagoon pool, or those wanting to reconnect with nature.
While a few references to its location in the rooms or a few locally-named cocktails wouldn’t hurt, the resort stands on its own without relying solely on the Byron brand. And that’s a real strength – Elements would be exceptional no matter where it was located.
The writer stayed as a guest of Elements of Byron.
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