WTF Wednesday: The Price of Food on Hayman Island

Posted on
May 22, 2013

I know, I know. You guys were probably expecting the exciting conclusion of yesterday’s post, in which I tell you all about snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef, and also whether or not there were kittens. Unfortunately, I realized that all those photos are still on Rand’s laptop, and I’m currently overcome with a strong case of jet lag and laziness, so instead, I’m going to talk about how crazy expensive food on Hayman Island was.

You can have lunch, but you’re going to have to sell your plasma to afford it.

My family has instilled in me a great number of strange habits and beliefs; among them is the notion that food shouldn’t cost much money. As is their wont, my family has taken this belief to the extreme. Most flat-out refuse to ever go to restaurants (their logic: “You just pay more for stuff that you can get at home!”), and many of their groceries are purchased on clearance, from those weird discount bins at the end of aisles (you know – the ones filled with seasonal cake decorations and dented canned goods).

And then came along Rand, and turned that idea on its head (honestly, if you told me that his sole role in my life, besides all that making out and romance stuff, was to make me question EVERYTHING, I would totally believe you). He loves going out to eat; he adores expensive and boutique grocery stores, filled with local products and fancy cheeses. He’s consistently suspicious if something edible is on sale.

“I just don’t trust it,” he once said of some discount chicken I brought home from Albertson’s. I ate it alone.

Over the last decade, I’ve tried to strike a balance between these two forces in my life. I like buying things on sale, but I’ll willing to spend a little more for something local, or organic, or ethically-produced. I’m fine with eating out at cheap places, and I’m even okay with splurging on an expensive dinner every now and then, provided I think it’s worth it.

But despite all the leaps and bounds I’ve made, the prices of food on Hayman Island left me clutching my heart. The thing is, they had the same effect on Rand.

There were three things on Hayman Island that were free:

  • Water
  • Breakfast
  • Apples

Guess what we consumed a ton of?

That’s right! Water!

Pancakes! Uh, … I mean breakfast! (Which was mostly pancakes!)

Apples!

 

Seriously, I think we each ate something like 3 apples a day. Which is crazy, because we all know that I prefer my apples surrounded with pie crust, and baked.

But a gal can’t subsist on breakfast and a shit ton of apples alone. We had no choice but to eat at the resort restaurants. And they were expensive as hell.

There were three options for lunch – we could order a picnic lunch and take it out with us to one of the islands (prices started at a whopping $58 AUS, or about $63 U.S., PER PERSON), or we could eat at back at the resort, at either the pool cafe or the tiki bar lounge. Most days, we chose the latter.

The tiki bar offered some gorgeous salads, which were actually pretty reasonably priced.

This salad, with mint, watermelon, and feta, was $9 AUS, which seemed like a bargain at the time.

 –

We ate so many of these, and though they were delicious, I’m now actually kind of sickened by the thought of them.

And there were little sliders, which came with a small side of fries, for about $27 AUS, or close to $30 U.S.

Itsy bitsy burgers. Note the absence of lobster tails.

Were the burgers delicious? Yes. Absolutely. Do I think it is even remotely sane to pay $10 per mini burger? NO. NO, not unless each one comes with a free lobster tail or something (and despite my numerous pleas to our server, I can tell you: these did not).

With tax and tip, the meal above cost us about $75 U.S.

The good news is that we aren’t big drinkers. Because then things would have gotten really crazy:

For $22, you’d better bring me a bucket full of margarita, you hear me?

On any given night, three of the resort’s four restaurants were open, and room service was also available. Unfortunately, I don’t have too many photos of those meals, because we often skipped them and headed straight to bed. When we did manage to stay up and eat dinner, we found that the bill hovered around $150 AUS for two entrees and an appetizer (excluding drinks and dessert). Some restaurants were far pricier – the seafood buffet at AZURE was $100 AUS per person. Like lunch, these meals were all fantastic, but spending money on food is not something that I’m used to. Each time we got a bill, I found myself gasping for air.

I realize I must sound like a total ass complaining about the prices of things. After all, it was an amazing experience, and the food was excellent (and don’t forget: free apples). But since we were on an island, with literally no other options for food, we started to feel rather trapped by the whole situation. Rand and I both agreed that we’d much rather the hotel had been all-inclusive. We’d have paid more upfront, but we’d at least have known what we were getting into.

The one advantage of the costly meals was this: they made leaving Hayman Island slightly easier. There was no way we could stay there any longer, because we’d either go broke or starve.

En route to Sydney, we stopped briefly on Hamilton Island, and already we felt liberated. We no longer had to pay Hayman’s crazy prices. I spotted a vending machine and decided to buy myself a bottle of water. I felt giddy at the prospect. It would be affordable! And cold! And hydrating!

I was rummaging in my pocket for a few coins when I saw the prices.

I walked back to Rand empty-handed.

“I thought you wanted a drink,” he said.

“I decided I wasn’t thirsty,” I replied, and began searching my bag to see if we had any apples left.

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