We booked a three-night package through a travel agent that included transfers to the island, a regular hotel room, a day-long "Beauty Spots" 4WD coach tour, and breakfast daily. Upon arrival at Hervey Bay airport we were met by a bus driver who took our bags and then called ahead to the ferry terminal to ask them to hold the boat for us, as the timing was a bit tight. Initial check-in at the ferry terminal was quick and easy and our bags were taken care of to be delivered to our room on the island.
When we arrived at the actual resort, we were greeted at reception by a friendly staff member who provided us with a schedule of events for our stay and information on where and when to meet for our pre-booked coach tour the next day. The room, located a short walk from the main building, was clean and comfortable with A/C (appreciated in the humid environment) and a private patio overlooking a small pond and natural area. Our bags were brought to the room a few minutes after we got in.
The resort was quite empty while we were there (reception told us they were running at only 20% capacity) so that was a pleasant surprise. The resort offers a variety of guided walks as well as presentations on native wildlife, most of which are free, and we took advantage of several of these. In fact, we liked the "Night Walk" (a ranger takes you around the resort in the dark to view wildlife active at nighttime) so much that we went on it again the next night, with a different guide, spotting different animals - we even helped catch some cane toads.
The day-long 4WD coach tour was packed full (seems like people come over from the mainland to take this tour as well as resort guests) but the coach was comfortable and the driver/guide was very friendly and kept up a humourous and informative commentary while on board. A morning tea with coffee and muffins was included, plus a cold buffet lunch at Eurong Resort halfway through the day. Because the tour tries to pack in as much as possible we did feel a bit rushed at a couple of places where we could easily have spent much more time, but that's the price of trying to see several sights on a big island. If you prefer to tour independently you can rent a 4WD vehicle from an office at the resort.
Each morning we ate at the Maheno's breakfast buffet. The food set out was the same each day, but there was enough of a variety of hot and cold items to keep us satisfied. Because the restaurant is quite open to the outside, birds would fly in and drink from juice or water glasses left on tables, so we learned to not leave our table unattended. This didn't bother us as it seemed part of the charm of an "eco resort", but some mind not find it so charming. The only options for dinner during our stay were the Sand Bar (casual - order at a counter, then pick up your food when ready) and the Seabelle (fancy). We opted to stick with the Sand Bar, which offered reasonably-priced pizzas, burgers, steak, sandwiches, fish & chips, etc. Service was friendly and the food was ready reasonably quickly even at a peak time.
Our only real complaints from our stay had to do with communication from the island. There were no instructions in the room on how to place outgoing calls or any details on charges for doing so. We had to call reception to find out how to make a call, then we used the phone a few times to call a local number in Hervey Bay. On checkout we discovered that the resort added a hefty per-minute charge. Fair enough if they had advised us of this in advance, but we were a bit miffed to only find out after the fact. Internet access was only available from two pay-as-you go terminals in the lobby. The cost was $12/hour, coins only, and the speed was slow, so you couldn't do much in your allotted time.
After reading some negative comments in other reviews regarding the attitude of staff we were a bit apprehensive, but our experience was uniformly pleasant. Every staff member we spoke to, from the front desk to ferry crew to housecleaning to the rangers, was friendly and helpful. The rangers in particular were very enthusiastic, and spending time with them learning about the flora and fauna of the island was a highlight of our stay here. After we had left the resort and arrived back home, a closer look at our bill showed that we had been charged in error for our airport transfers (this was supposed to have been included with our package). A quick call to the resort and the cheerful person on the other end of the phone acknowledged the error and credited the amount, no problem. All-in-all, we thought very highly of the resort staff.
We were very pleased with our stay at Kingfisher Bay and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in the bush overlooking the calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait, this award-winning ecotourism resort on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the perfect base to explore the world's largest sand island. The resort incorporates the 152-room Mercure Kingfisher Bay Hotel, self-contained two and three bedroom villas and houses, and a 174-bed Wilderness Lodge for groups. Resort Rangers also guide a variety of four-wheel-drive coach tours or personalised tours of the island. Access to Fraser Island is by ferry only. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Mercure Kingfisher Bay Resort Fraser Island
- Kingfisher Bay Hotel Fraser Island
- Kingfisher Bay Fraser Island