Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort and Spa
It's uncanny, but almost every time I drive out of Cairns Airport, Gang Gajang's This is Australia comes on the radio. It's happened so often now, I turn up the volume in anticipation. I've not yet had the chance to "watch the lightning crack over cane fields", but as I breathe in the humidity, I know for sure I've arrived in far north Queensland. The Pullman, an hour's drive north of Cairns, is a sprawling five-star resort where two world heritage sites collide – the rainforest and the reef. While the resort sits at the sleepier southern end of Port Douglas' Four Mile Beach, the main township is an easy drive away.
Guests arrive into a vast, airy foyer with soaring ceilings opening out to a seemingly endless lagoon pool, fringed by palm trees and clusters of low-rise accommodation blocks. Just off reception is the newly relaunched Aluco Restaurant and Bar, designed by architects TomMarkHenry, offering contemporary dining either in airconditioned comfort, or poolside on a large terrace. There's also a Vie Spa, swim-up pool bar, lush gardens and friendly staff who go the extra mile.
Accommodation at the 194-room resort ranges from studio spa rooms, villas with private terrace and plunge pool, swim-out apartments and penthouses with rooftop spa and barbecue sun decks. All offer views of either the pool or the adjacent championship golf course. We stay in a spacious, ground floor two-bedroom apartment with king-size beds, kitchen, laundry, huge TV and floor-to-ceiling sliding doors leading out to a terrace. A child-proof gate leads out to the 3000-square-metre pool. The ground floor rooms are a good option if you're travelling with kids.
I'm here to try Accor's relaunched My Resorts membership offerings including MyGlass, MyKids and MyWellness, so we're regulars at the Aluco Restaurant & Bar during our three-night stay. Breakfast is a fairly standard affair, with a reasonable buffet (plus smoothie if you're on the MyWellness package). Things step up a notch for lunch and dinner. Come dusk, order a mojito (or several if you're on the MyGlass package which at $48 per person, per day includes two hours of unlimited beverages plus something from the tapas menu) when the pool is romantically lit by lanterns. Afterwards take a seat poolside and tuck into executive chef Chad Woodford's modern Australian menu with its focus on locally sourced seafood. Expect dishes such as seared yellowfin tuna, with truffled soy gel, pickles and citrus mayonnaise, or master stock braised pork belly. Desserts such as pineapple carpaccio with coconut ice cream let you know you're in the tropics.
Try yoga on Four Mile Beach (included in Accor's new MyWellness program), have brunch at Betty's Bohemian Café, and be sure and have a mooch around either the Saturday Mossman Markets (lots of fresh produce) or the Port Douglas Sunday Markets. The Junction Café at Mossman, about 10 minutes' drive north of the resort, is my go-to café when I'm up this way, with its urban grunge meets the tropics feel.
This is the ideal resort for a drop-and-flop stay. It offers an amazing pool, tropical cocktails, fabulous food, friendly staff and a terrific location. Warm, balmy weather is practically guaranteed.
From $299 per night. Accor's My Resorts starts from $35 per person, per day with a raft of inclusions ranging from late checkout, kid's menus and pool toys to complimentary in-house movies, wellness packs and more. See pullmanportdouglas.com.au; accorhotels.com
Lolling about in the vast lagoon pool, and cocktails at dusk.
The unpleasant waft of fertiliser on the gardens surrounding our room.
Sheriden Rhodes was a guest of Accor Hotels.