I'm actually amazed at how moany some of these reviews are - it's funny, I was almost hesitant to book at first because of noise complaints, but I am so glad I ignored them because my partner and I have just returned from the most tranquil and relaxing holiday of our lives!
We stayed in a second floor Superior Spa Suite at The Reef Retreat for my 30th birthday and we cannot fault a single thing between us. Ok, maybe the bugs, of which there are a few around, but what do you expect from the Tropics?! The apartments themselves don't attract bugs (and are air-conditioned so you can shut yourself in) but you tend to get a few at night around the outdoor areas, so bring some Aeroguard! Pest spray is provided and it's probably wise not to leave food lying around for long periods of time and take the bins out regularly - just common sense really.
The room itself was tastefully furnished, spotlessly clean on arrival and thoughtfully stocked (milk in the fridge for tea and coffee was a good call). The outdoor kitchen is a really nice concept - loved cooking out 'in the wild' and it gave us more space in the room to chill without food smells infesting the bedroom. Breakfast overlooking the beautiful rainforest pool surrounded by trees was a treat in itself. Oh and bring little bottles of oil, salt, pepper, balsamic and the like so all you need to do is buy fresh produce from Coles (the veg store by the entrance is really affordable). We took the bus there for just short of $5 each, but I'm under the impression that some people order online in the area - worth looking into. There are affordably priced drinks available for purchase on reception (including wine) and you can hire a car if you really need one. We didn't as transfers are available to and from the airport and for the trips.
The spa bath had a huge window over it which I loved to open all the way for a real sense of outdoor bathing - only a bath person would really understand this joy! I was also pleased to discover a candle in a beautiful glass on the dining table - Clive happily provided me with matches so I could take advantage of this ambiance. Let's just say I did some serious spa-style bathing!
The best thing about the place - the peaceful and visually stunning setting. The Reef Retreat is sympathetically built into the natural environment so you get a real sense of tranquility. The lights around the pool are a lovely touch too and you can swim in the gently heated pool or use the communal spa until 11pm without getting a chill. Could have stared up at those trees forever.
Want to experience some of the action? Clive is very knowledgeable about the local area and gives unbiased advice as to the trips most suited to you. We did the Great Barrier Reef and full day rafting on the Tully river. Both incredible fun! On a calm day, it's also well worth hiring a sea kayak from Shannon (by the pier) to explore the nearby Double Island - worth it just for the mangroves and stingrays. We found everyone out here to be professional, honest and friendly and loved that it was full of couples and older folk. None of the hooligans!
Great value, lots of character and of a really great standard. I'm already planning my return, so thanks Clive and Mary (and Ruby) - hope to see you again!
P.S. Don't pack pool towels. These are included and we wasted luggage space on them! May also be worth bringing a little bottle of hand laundry wash for your swimwear.