Make a splash
Full of flavour: Tropical fruit at Rusty’s Market restaurants abound, their tables exposed to the balmy tropical breezes. Salsa Bar and Grill, looking over Port Douglas Park to the sea, offers a varied Australian contemporary menu and proves an inspired choice; presidents and prime ministers have dined here. Between mouthfuls we praise the butter fish on potato and ginger mash, and express amazement at the lightness of the gnocchi. Washed down with a bottle of Australian sauvignon blanc, this meal and this town complete a day in which the pleasures of being tourists in our own country have been discovered afresh.
Our last day in Cairns allows time to fully explore the Sebel. There is an inviting pool deck surround by palms but our room is sustaining enough, with its generous refurbished bathroom, sofa, cable television channels and views. Collapsing here, book in hand, with room service a mere phone call away, has no end of appeal.
But high tea in the lobby is a must. To host this ritual
Age of elegance: The newly renovated light-filled lobby at the Sebel Cairns with appropriate style requires dramatic architecture, and the Sebel’s massive columns echo famous Asian tropical hotels. A timber-railed mezzanine floor accentuates the spaciousness, while floor-to-ceiling arched windows fill the soaring interior with light.
We note the continuing presence of sunshine as we munch on delicate sandwiches, biscuits and luscious little cakes, all made on the premises. Three huge carriage lamps, cleaned and painted during the Sebel’s recent multimillion-dollar renovation, hang above traditional armchairs newly upholstered in lively stripes and hot pink. Tea in hand, juggling jam and cream-laden scones, we are merely priming ourselves for the hotel spa.
Mii Spa is part of a prestige group that offers a long menu of treatments using Swiss products and a natural Australian range. Lemon myrtle, mint, davidson plum and tea-tree provide the background aromas. In a sunny room designed for couples we unromantically decline the chance to share a deep granite tub for two because this weekend we have spent enough wet time together. Deciding to go straight for a rejuvenating facial and firm massage we emerge triumphantly an hour later. Walking on air, we hit the town for a final look around.
Cairns Hire Boats provides us with a humble vessel consisting of a canopy and a flat deck mounted on a couple of pontoons. We spend several hours motoring around the mangrove-edged inlets off Cairns, where shabby tubs and glossy, boastful yachts have have dropped anchor. A flying fish graciously leads the way, flashing in the bright sunlight. Leonie Coombes was a guest of the Sebel Cairns. www.sebelcairns.com www.cairns.com.au www.daintree-rec.com.au www.queenslandholidays.com.au