Sure, Cairns has plenty to offer sun-seeking travellers, but just 30 minutes north is a laid-back location where the beaches, atmosphere and food rival that of its busier neighbour
If anybody needs me, I’ll be by the pool. On second thought, I’ll be at the beach… or relaxing in the spa pavilion. Actually, maybe check for me at Nu Nu, too, because it’s been four hours since I had the best breakfast of my life there and I’m already romanticising my next meal.
To be clear – this wasn’t just a particularly good Sunday morning fry-up. It wasn’t even a Neil Perry-worthy egg scramble, a melt-in-the-mouth crispy potato rosti or a Millennial-friendly smashed avocado. It was a North Queensland mud crab omelette with greens and a ginger, caramel and white pepper broth. Now this is a breakfast of champions, I thought, as I slurped and munched my way around the plate at Alamanda Palm Cove’s hatted restaurant. This is my first time to Tropical North Queensland, and I must say, ‘Alamanda, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.’
Alamanda Palm Cove has plenty to boast about, not least of all its much-lauded restaurant. It is also the only beachfront property in the area. Nothing lies between the hotel and the white sand on this corner of the Cove, meaning guests can get from their room to the beach in about 90 seconds at, which gives you an idea of how I spend my time here. But it only takes me about 30 minutes in the tropical destination to grasp why so many east coasters have made this their go-to beach holiday destination.
Maybe there’s something in the water, because although I’m travelling solo on this trip I never feel alone or bored, and my disposition seems to mirror the sunny, golden weather each day of my three-night sojourn.
Ambling along the footpath that winds along the beachfront boulevard is as peaceful an experience as any cushion-seated meditation I’ve ever done, and I have a real pep in my step with every boho boutique I wander into on the promenade. I’ve timed my first trip to the region with one of the hottest spells on record and, as luck would have it, an unfortunate – but typical – panic-pack has left me with three pairs of jeans but no shorts to manage the steamy 36-degree days.
No matter. It’s nearly time for my massage and I can cool off in the pool in the spa pavilion, which I’m told is a relatively new addition to the resort. Admittedly I don’t know what a ‘spa pavilion’ actually is – even less so after a bliss-inducing 60-minute massage – and I’m not sure what to expect when my therapist leads me up a set of stairs to the spa’s rooftop, where I find three unassuming white marquees.
Even if I had expectations, they would have been far exceeded by what faces me inside now. A seemingly never-ending panorama of blue takes up most of my vision as a cloudless sky bleeds into a brilliant azure ocean, before fading into the turquoise of my private infinity pool. This real-life watercolour painting stops me in my tracks, and I turn to my therapist, wide-eyed. “I have two questions,” I say. “Where am I again, and when can I come back?”
The next hour is passed in a dream state as I roll from the comfy lounge into the pool and back again, before the time comes to float back out into the ‘real world’, by which I mean the resort and my oversized, two-storey accommodation.
The self-contained apartment-style rooms – although incredibly generous in size and comfortable – are rather dated, as is the overall resort design, which hails from the 1980s, but I hear the hotel is undergoing a renovation over the next few years, and this is a minor speed bump in what is otherwise a very impressive hotel experience.
Besides, there is a far bigger problem than the rooms at Alamanda Palm Cove. A stay there makes going back to everyday life particularly painful. It might be time for another trip to Nu Nu.