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Holidays with Kids checks in to... Alamanda Palm Cove
Palm Cove, Queensland
The small seaside town of Palm Cove is somewhere between Cairns and Port Douglas and it’s unlike either of these busy tourist hubs. Alamanda Palm Cove is its only absolute waterfront resort, a luxurious yet family-friendly resort.
Traveller: Deborah Dickson-Smith
Room Type: Alamanda Suite
Date: March 2019
Best for: Families with school-age kids
A home away from home, only better, with spacious family suites, a lagoon pool and white sandy beach just moments away.
Being in Queensland’s tropical far north, it is raining when we arrive and our first impression (through driving rain) is the lush green garden that encloses the hotel. Inside, the warm greeting we receive at reception (and complimentary champagne) more than makes up for the damp arrival.
Rooms vary in size, with one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, and the largest, the four-bedroom Alamanda Suite. They are all very spacious, self-catering, with large living areas and balconies overlooking either the beach or pool.
Our four-bedroom Alamanda Suite is enormous. A large living and dining area (with a sofa large enough to seat about 20 people) is flanked on two sides by balconies overlooking the swimming pools (there are two) and beach beyond. Behind, there’s a fully equipped kitchenette and laundry with washing machine and dryer.
The master bedroom is on the same level as the living area, and stairs lead to three more rooms and a second bathroom.
Dining in and out
Palm Cove has a great selection of restaurants, everything from fish and chips to Italian, Japanese, Thai and Indian to fine dining establishments such as Vivo. One of the finest is Alamanda’s own: Nu Nu. Most restaurants are family friendly, and Nu Nu is especially so, opening up onto a lawn for bored kids to run around on while grown-ups savour the gourmet delights on offer.
Breakfast at Nu Nu comprises an entrée of fresh tropical fruit, a small compote of Bircher muesli and juice, followed by an à la carte selection of mains: everything from eggs Benedict to cider donuts with cinnamon sugar and passionfruit curd.
Dinner at Nu Nu is out of this world, and the menu selection one of the most original I’ve ever seen for an ‘Australian contemporary’-style restaurant. Having difficulty choosing, we opt for the four-course Tasting Menu with matched wines. It starts with lemon bread and cassava crisps. The lemon bread is extraordinary: a large round hollow puff of flat bread, glazed with lemon juice and olive oil.
It’s followed by house-cured barramundi in a hazelnut and blood orange salad, and melaleuca-smoked reef fish with papaya relish served on a betel leaf. The second and third courses offer barbecued tiger prawns glazed in rainforest honey and turmeric curry of pork belly with ginger caramel. Dessert is a medley of honeycomb, yoghurt marshmallow and lemon semolina cake with milk jam ice-cream.
A kids’ menu is available and usually delivered with something to colour in and crayons, or if you’d rather dine in your apartment, the hotel will organise a grocery delivery to your room. Simply order what you want at Coles online and the hotel will do the rest.
Especially for kids
The resort has two pools – one adults-only and the other lagoon pool perfect for kids – and of course, there is the adjacent patrolled beach. Ask at reception for beach toys, fishing kits and kites to take to the beach, and walk a few hundred metres to hire stand-up paddleboards and kayaks. Halfway along the beach is an adventure playground and a little further, a long jetty perfect for casting a fishing line.
High chairs, cots, strollers, baby baths, play mats, baby bouncers and babysitters are available on request.
For those inevitable rainy days, ask at reception for a selection of DVDs and board games. There is also a games room equipped with PlayStation 4, movie room, table tennis, pool tables and air hockey.
The resort also runs free yoga and Pilates classes several times a week, which kids are welcome to join.
Exploring further afield
Palm Cove is roughly halfway between Cairns and Port Douglas and it goes without saying that the region has plenty on offer for kids. A few highlights include:
A day trip to the Frankland Islands. Departing from Mulgrave River just south of Cairns, at 30 minutes this is the shortest trip out to the Great Barrier Reef and the island is less crowded than others with only one company licensed to operate tours here. An onboard marine biologist can take the kids on a guided snorkel, littlies can enjoy a semi-submersible tour and big kids can try scuba diving.
Tjapukai Indigenous cultural experiences provide an entertaining and educational experience for kids that includes lessons in boomerang and spear throwing, weaving, boomerang painting and jewellery making, as well as a guided bush foods trail.
Discover the rainforest. The spectacular Barron Falls can be seen from The Edge Lookout, a glass-bottom platform at Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. Visitors also can learn more about the world’s oldest tropical rainforest at Skyrail’s new Rainforest Discovery Zone and through its interpretive app.
Dreamtime snorkelling. Join Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sea rangers on a day tour with Reef Magic Cruises to two spectacular outer Great Barrier Reef sites. Dreamtime Dive & Snorkel is a unique educational Great Barrier Reef experience incorporating the world’s oldest living culture.
Take a trip to the Reef with a Master Reef Guide. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GRMPA) recently launched the Master Reef Guides program, an intensive training and certification process. The role of these elite Reef ambassadors is to give visitors a truly immersive experience, even getting them involved in citizen science. You’ll find a Master Reef Guide on board a number of the vessels departing Cairns and Port Douglas each day, including Passions of Paradise, Reef Magic, Sailaway and Sunlover.
Spend an evening at Reef Teach in Cairns before venturing out to the reef. Reef Teach is an entertaining evening aimed at equipping you and your kids with the knowledge to really appreciate your time on the reef. The energetic and passionate owner, Gareth Phillips (a Master Reef Guide), takes you through the basics of how coral reefs are formed, their inhabitants, the threats to the reef and what you can do to help. His passion is contagious, so be warned: the kids are likely to leave the presentation as newly minted Reef Warriors.
Just for you
Alamanda Spa is a peaceful little beachfront oasis, where you can escape from the kids for a short while and indulge in treatment or two. The spa uses organic Eminence products that smell divine. I indulged in a relaxing massage, choosing first from a selection of scented massage oils. After an hour of bliss, I am led to one of the spa’s private rooftop plunge pools for a bit more relaxation, served herbal tea and left to my own devices.
Where to find it
The writer stayed as a guest of Alamanda Palm Cove. To find out more or book your next family holiday, visit their website here.