My husband and I spent 3 nights at the Escarpment Retreat after Easter as we needed a chance to relax and rest. The property is near the main road, but as it's well away from the busy areas on the mountain there isn't a lot of traffic or noise. It has security gates to ensure safety at night (you get a beeper to open/close the gate with your room key). The gardens are lovely and well maintained, creating a tranquil feel to the place. Carolynn was courteous and efficient in checking us in and giving us information on things to do on the mountain. The property isn't suitable for disabled visitors or those with mobility issues as you have to negotiate a steep path and steps to get to the rooms.
There are 3 duplex villas, a separate building with reception/dining room/sunroom and another separate building containing the cinema and spa. Despite booking well in advance and staying for a relatively long time we were given what I would consider the worst located room (unit 2). Our bathroom faced the walkway leading to units 3 & 4 so we had to keep the plantation shutters shut all the time for privacy. The only way to open and close them was to clamber into the deep spa bath to reach them, so it was easier to just leave them shut all the time - this made the room very dark and meant you didn't have a nice view from the spa like the other units would have enjoyed. The french doors opened from the lounge onto the small balcony but this faced directly across to the doors and balcony of unit 3 so there was no privacy there either.
The view over the escarpment from the back of the property is lovely (pity the villas aren't built there to enjoy the view) but the swing seat and furniture is old and worn. There is another little pergola with table and chairs beside the creek near the waterfall - nice location, but needs to maintained and furniture upgraded. Best place to sit and relax is on the balcony beside the sunroom with a book and a cup of tea listening to the waterfall while the sun warms your back. The website suggests there are nice walks on the property - that's really an exaggeration. The walk to the escarpment view at the back of the property is just walking down a gravel driveway past the manager's house. The very small rainforest area at the front of the property is picturesque, cool and quiet, but only about a 2 minute walking distance.
The interior of the villa is well laid out with quality furniture and fittings (though our lounge was quite lumpy). The king size 4 poster bed was gorgeous and very comfortable. There is a TV and DVD player (you can borrow DVD's from their library at reception, but choice is limited, so take your own) but if you'd prefer music you can connect your ipod or iphone to a fitting on the bedside clock. The kitchenette has enough to give you home comforts such without the drudge of having to cook while on holidays. There was only 1 well used chux wipe under the sink which we only used to wipe down the filthy table on the balcony - wouldn't use it to wash dishes.
We used the fire on one of the nights as it was quite cold but found it didn't warm the room at all so we had to revert to using the airconditioner.
The bathroom was spacious and clean with separate shower and spa bath. Despite promoting itself as eco-friendly the towel were changed every day even though we hung them up. Maybe they could consider giving people the option to keep their towels if hung up or have them changed by leaving them on the floor as happens in many other eco-friendly hotels these days. Replacing half used containers of body wash and soap each day is another unnecessary waste. Consider wall mounted shower gel/shampoo dispensers in the shower - cost effective and eco-friendly.
I wasn't overly impressed with the cleaning of the room. Don't think the floor was cleaned daily. By day 3 our floor seemed very dirty. The outdoor furniture was dirty and there were cobwebs around the doors and eaves (pay attention to detail). The worst was the day that the cleaner left the bag out of our bathroom bin (containing feminine hygiene items) on the kitchen bench.
We thought we were staying at Fawlty Towers when we went down for breakfast on the first morning. The woman serving was quite flustered and we had to wait ages for her to take our order. There was no coffee or tea bags left so she eventually brought a coffee bag as she didn't have time to redo the coffee percolator. Then we realized there were no cups anyway so had t wait for her to come back to get them for us. There was fresh fruit and yoghurt available on the side which was quite nice. Cereal selection was dismal - Coco Pops, Cornflakes or Muesli. There was a toaster and jams, but no bread to toast. Three types of juice, but they were the cheap sugary watered down supermarket variety. The cooked breakfasts however were excellent. During our stay we tried the scrambled eggs, poached eggs and full cooked breakfast and couldn't fault them. The hash browns turned out to be potato gems though. Service on the other 2 mornings was great, so think there is 1 staff member who couldn't cope with having a full house (as that's a maximum of 12 guests it's a bit concerning).
We used the cinema on our first night there. Bubbles and chocolates were left there for us to having while watching our DVD on the big screen. The seats are getting a bit old and tired and the footrest kept going down when my husband put his legs on it.
We had the 2 course meal from Sundowners delivered to our room on the 2nd night. The prawn linguine was quite tasty, though way too much pasta. The cheesecake and pavlova were very average. I'd recommend eating out. Highly recommend Masala Shanti, the indian restaurant near Gallery Walk. We ate there on our last night and found it exceptional. We ate at St Bernards next door on our first night. The food there was average, but the views and atmosphere were fantastic - go there for a drink and view over the escarpment late in the day, but don't bother with dinner. The coffee plantation has the best coffee I've had anywhere for a long time - no bitter after taste.
I had a one hour massage on our last afternoon there, hoping to end the trip in a relaxing way. I have never had such a painful massage before. My forearm was still sore and bruised a week later. It was most certainly not relaxing and caused pain rather than relieving it.
One activity that isn't publicized on the mountain that we really enjoyed was barefoot bowls. You can bowl any day (free on Sundays, $8 each on other days) for as long as you want and the drinks are cheap as chips.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay at Escarpment Resort but there are details they need to work on to make it truly top class. I've certainly stayed in less expensive properties that were better quality and better value, though not on Tamborine Mountain I admit.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Escarpment Retreat and Day Spa is an international award-winning mountain rainforest sanctuary perched on top of Mt Tamborine. Set on four acres of botanical gardens and lush rainforest, complete with flowing stream, small waterfall and cliff views at the rear of the property through the surrounding valleys as far as the Gold Coast and beyond. Featuring romantic chalet style villas in a garden setting with a Balinese flavour, plus the "Edge House" family accommodation, an award-winning Day Spa, private Gold Class Cinema and a spectacular tree house common room in the rainforest. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Escarpment Hotel Gold Coast