With win­ter chills fi­nally de­scend­ing in the south­east, the balmy days of the state’s far north beckon

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - ESCAPE - SUE McVAY

Port Dou­glas is hot – fig­u­ra­tively and lit­er­ally. With peak tourism sea­son about to kick off, the small coastal town about an hour’s drive north of Cairns is set to ex­plode as visi­tors de­scend on this ex­traor­di­nary trop­i­cal par­adise.

Tourism is the main in­dus­try in town and af­ter a few lean years, 2016 is tipped to be a cracker – with good rea­son. This place is heav­enly. It’s where two World Her­itage jew­els join – where the rain­for­est meets the reef. It’s so beau­ti­ful; you can’t help but stop and just breathe.

There are plenty of places to stay but for a hip and trendy trop­i­cal re­sort, make QT Port Dou­glas a first on your list.

For­mally a Ry­dges ho­tel, the 170-room funky QT re­opened in June 2012 af­ter a $6.5 mil­lion re­vamp that trans­formed it into a retro-glam­our Palm Springs-style re­sort with some se­ri­ous rattan ca­banas around the palm-fringed pool.

It’s part of the grow­ing QT chain that fea­tures uber-trendy ho­tels in Syd­ney, Surfers Par­adise on the Gold Coast, Can­berra, Falls Creek and Bondi. The funky QT Port Dou­glas of­fers an eclec­tic mix of typ­i­cal ho­tel fea­tures – pool, pool bar, sun lounges and ten­nis courts – mixed with a quirky blend of retro art, con­tem­po­rary de­sign, a su­per cool cus­tom-made stone bar and unique restau­rant/food mar­ket.

Once you’ve re­laxed with a treat­ment at the spa (highly rec­om­mended), you can spend a day loung­ing by the pool or stroll across the road to Four-Mile Beach.

Day trips to the in­ner or outer reef are a must with Quick­sil­ver Cruises, or a sun­set sail on Aquarius will work up an ap­petite for the feast await­ing you at QT’s Bazaar restau­rant/food mar­ket.

Bazaar is an­other quirky twist, this time on the tra­di­tional buf­fet. It’s food art meets food stall, glut­tony meets Pete Evans. Break­fast is a feast of all the usual morn­ing fare with a spe­cial men­tion for the omelettes made of the fresh­est in­gre­di­ents you can hand-pick from the mar­ket stall.

Din­ner is a mul­ti­coloured mo­saic of seafood – prawns, oys­ters, crabs, food-fired pizza, sal­ads in every taste com­bi­na­tion and don’t start on the desserts or you will never stop.

Af­ter din­ner you can drop over to the Es­tilo bar for a cock­tail or night­cap be­fore wad­dling back to your room and a food-in­duced coma in bliss­ful air-conditioning.

Sue McVay was a guest of QT Port Dou­glas.

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