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Thala Beach Nature Reserve
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Reviewed March 27, 2014

Stayed here in the middle of a month long tour of Australia and it was a nice change from the big hotel chains.
Great welcome and excellent service throughout our stay. The chalet style rooms are well appointed and quite large. Breakfast is a feast and the views from the dining room are to die for.
One evening we opted to have a picnic basket dinner in our room which was delivered right on time it was relaxing and a bit different if a bit pricey.
If hill climbing is a problem book a room not to far from the main building as it can be quite a walk up hill otherwise. The hotel does provide a golf buggy style pick up if required
Guided walks in the grounds on different topics are free of charge to guests. We did the coconut walk with Carl it was great, imformative and fun.
Remember to take insect repellent !

Room Tip: Ask for a room with a view of the beach. Most rooms are surrounded by vegitation with no view.
  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled with friends
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Thank 907Chris43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 26, 2014

Having reviewed several other hotels on Tripadvisor, I have to say that this is one of the most difficult to assess.
I think its fair to say that Thala IS different from any other resort, and you have to bear this in mind. We were fully aware when we booked. The first, and possibly most important factor, to bear in mind is its location. It is very remote. a car is an absolute essential - forget about shuttle services, buses etc. There are no real facilities like restaurants, nearby, or even within a 15 minute drive. The seclusion of Thala can never be under estimated.

We had a hire car, so travelled out to Port Douglas itself, or Palm Cove to eat, so I can't comment of the standard or cost of eating at Thala's restaurant.
Now - the resort itself. Firstly- its quite large, and the accommodations - in reality, all identical lodges spread throughout the resort, can be quite a distance from the main lodge/ reception area. We had one the furthest, which meant a good 10 minute walk thru the wooded area. We are reasonably fit and able, but even so, this was a challenge sometimes - particularly going FROM the room - it seemed all uphill!
Despite the fact that our "lodge" was almost at the beach area, we could not actually see the beach, or indeed the sea, from the balcony, due to the vegetation. A difficult issue to redress tho, I'm sure, but perhaps just a little pruning back? It was also disappointing to note that previous guests had thrown/dropped empty beer bottles from the balcony, and they remained there for the duration of our stay. Not the fault of the staff of course, but something they need to be conscious of.

Many other reviewers have commented on the rooms being serviced every other day. Thala states that this is to ensure that the guests get maximum privacy? Whilst it didn't make any real significant impact on our stay, possibly Thala should re think this policy, as it is an expectation these days that rooms are serviced daily, irrespective of cost and staffing implications.
The room itself was spacious, and comfortable. If I have to be picky - perhaps the shower could be updated - it is a small spray head, set quite low into the wall of the shower unit, meaning that you have to 'stoop' to shower. Functional, but could be improved upon. Likewise the TV, it is quite small in reality. Slightly bigger/ better TVs please!
The rooms just need a little attention to update, but are otherwise more than acceptable. You have to bear in mind that this is not a modern 5 star corporate resort, after all.

There are a couple of small rock pools within the complex. Whilst indeed they are lovely to look at, they are not at all practical as leisure 'pools'.


On the subject of staff, I have say that everyone we spoke to was friendly, helpful, and courteous. Nothing was too much trouble it seemed.
The main reception area of the lodge has a very useful small area, which has plenty of brochures and flyers, for ideas and suggestions to do in in the Port Douglas area.

Wi-Fi is only available in the main lodge, not in the rooms, which is something I would suggest they look at. Whether we like it or not- the internet is no longer a luxury these days, and is almost a given expectation when travelling. There should be the facility to extend the coverage to all accommodation units, as its not really practical to walk back to the main lodge. Just a personal opinion.
Also -as a suggestion- perhaps they could provide some coffee and small refreshments at the main lodge for the benefit of guests. As this would clearly only be used by the guests of the resort, and not the 'general public/ passers by'- I think this would be a nice gesture, and be very welcome. I'm sure the cost would not be too prohibitive for the resort to absorb.

Overall - we enjoyed the stay at Thala very much. It is certainly very different, if only for its seclusion. A few issues here and there, if addressed, would turn it from being very good, to excellent.

Room Tip: Be aware of the distance you may have to walk, on some locations!
  • Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank mel.w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 23, 2014 via mobile

We arrived at Thala beach lodge for a week stay at the end of our 5 week holiday down in Australia/New Zealand.

We had a busy holiday so booked this as our bit of luxury and relaxation at the end of the stay. Thala is that somewhere a bit different, you won't stay in many places like this and for the main part it feels very special as well, with just a few areas of improvement needed.

We stayed in a Eucalypt bungalow which was very comfortable with gorgeous views. The room had good air con which is a must in the steamy Queensland heat. Some of the shutter window nets are a bit worn, so we didn't feel safe opening them for the mosquitoes - this can hopefully be tightened up (room 55). The only other slight down with the room was the balcony. It was idyllic to look at, but we never felt like sitting out in it, as it was generally covered with webs, or crawling with green ants. This is an inevitable issue in the forest, but a shame.

There is a complimentary buggy ride around the resort whenever you need it which is brilliant because it is a big resort and you often don't feel like the long walks.

The lodge itself is a big spacious wooden construction over two floors. There's lots of places to have a relaxing seat without it becoming busy or congested. There are a couple of big webs with golden orb spiders up, this isn't just a Eco lodge kind to nature feature, it's a point of interest, there are signs up with info about the spiders there ( these ones being harmless ).

The restaurant has a beautiful setting overlooking the bay towards Port Douglas. There are no windows, just wide open views, as the climate doesn't need windows. The restaurant serves nice food, but it is a little pricey, so it is wise to mix with some of the local Port Doglas restaurants. We had a great Thai meal in town on our second last night for about half the cost of Thala.

The biggest shame at Thala is the pool. They've created such a nice natural looking pool which is so refreshing, but like most hotels it's still kept very cold, so getting in is horrific and there's a spa feature at one part but only in the same temperature water which despite he warm air is just plain cold after a while. Finally and importantly, there is so much vegetation round the pool that it's impossible to sit in the sun for more than 10-15 mins without the sun moving behind a tree. We found ourselves moving a few times and still not getting it right.

Overall experience here is very positive. It definitely makes you feel like you've been in tropical Queensland unlike some of the more generic hotels, it's just after a few finishing touches which would create a more perfect experience.

Stayed: March 2014, traveled as a couple
1  Thank Craigsoota
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 19, 2014

We stayed here for a few days on our Honeymoon trip to Australia and both loved it.

Ours was one of the Jungle Walk Bungalows and was peaceful (except for the random loud Cicada outbursts which scared the bejaysus out of us the first time) with sound only from wildlife, the trees and crashing waves on the beach which was much needed due to the disaster that was the previous hotel.

From the moment we arrived we were met with lovely, helpful and pleasent staff who never (to our faces at least ha ha) grumbled when we chatted to them or gave out (again not to our faces) when I called them time and time again for the cart to bring us up to the main area.
The cart was a god send as I have severe back and knee problems from sports injuries and so found walking to the main area to be quite a challenge. I'd advise anyone with mobility issues to notify the resort in advance and try to get a room closer to the main area.

We dined in the resort twice and can't fault the food, the prices are reasonable enough when compared to what we'd pay here in Ireland.

We were advised upon check in that as the lodge is very eco aware they will only service the room every second day unless specifically asked to do otherwise. We put DND on our door and when we didn't, the room was serviced and was done great. Cups were cleaned, tea and milk were restocked and it was fresh milk too :) I have to say that Jenny was so lovely to me, lending me some insect replant as I was being abused to a massive level by the mozzies.

We found the bed to be very comfortable, lovely big size and over all we were really happy at the lodge.

Thank you to everyone we met there for making it such a lovely experience for us and thank you for the sparkling wine in the room.

  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank DublinRobbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2014

We were so looking forward to spending part of our honeymoon at Thala. The reviews looked good and the pictures were amazing. Unfortunately we were quite disappointed. The Mrs. and I are accustomed to staying at five star resorts. This did not come close. The most accurate review was the one that said something along the lines of Thala is like glorified camping.

The drive up to the main house is certainly pretty enough and we were pleased with the warm greeting and cold welcome drink we received. But all pleasantries stopped there. After eating an overpriced, mediocre, lunch, we were pointed down a trail in the direction of our room. A 5 star resort would have had someone walk us there and present the room and all it's amenities to us.

We opened our room with an old key attached to a large cumbersome keychain. 5 star hotels have magnetic key cards. The second key we received was an old skeleton key for the safe. Yes, a skeleton key. The safe was located in the back of the closet on the floor. So to open it we had to get down on our knees and practically crawl. A 5 star hotel has a digital keypad safe located at eye level. We were also supplied an adapter to charge our phones and cameras. We were charged a $20 deposit for the adapter. Not 5 star standards.

The floor of the room, we must say, is finished very nicely. Just beware of the hairclip sticking up and embedded in the floor of Room 31.
The sheets and blankets are old and tired. The 4 pillows were lumpy, hard as bricks and mismatched. We asked for more (there were no extras in the closet as is typical in a 5 star), and were brought 2 more mismatched, uncomfortable pillows.
The bed was not a King as advertised, but rather two twins tucked together. There was a ridge right down the middle. Again, not 5 star standards.

Two drinking glasses had lipstick stains on them. The "clean" glasses were smudged and cloudy.
The bathroom fixtures are cheap, gaudy, and old. The shower head in particular was among the worst I've ever used.
The television is tiny with terrible sound. It's set to monotone as opposed to stereo, so it sounds like someone is talking thru a tin can.
There is no WiFi available in the rooms.
The cheap alarm clock went off mysteriously in the middle of night 3. I can only think housekeeping did something to set it off (certainly unintentional as it may be).
Housekeeping only comes every other day. They offer every day if requested. In a 5 star resort one should not have to request housekeeping everyday. Not only is a room made every day, but in a 5 star resort a turndown service is also part of protocol.
We had a dead bug on the dresser for the entire time we were there. Housekeeping must have never noticed it.
The air conditioning is good. But the battery on the remote unit died on our last day.

The biggest spiders I've ever seen in my life were located in the open windows of the lobby area. I understand Thala is eco-friendly. A 5 star resort does not put spiders before guests.

The pool is a nice, interesting design. And the water is generally clean. But the area around the pool is dark, dank, and dirty. The natural growth and forestation runs right up to the edge of the pool, so even on a sunny day, there's no sunshine at all. To get from one area of the pool to another you have to trek around thru muddy areas. The gate was covered with little spiders and some kind of green ant.
The towels are located a walk away, up in the bar area. I think this was because the pool area is too dirty for towels. The first day there were no towels at all.
Every 5 star resort I've ever been to has some kind of poolside drink service. Thala has none.

The beach is a long walk away. It's very pretty, but that's it. You can't swim because of the stingers. But I saw plenty of other beaches that had stinger nets set up. Any 5 star resort would set up a stinger net.

Transportation is an overpriced $32 round trip into Port Douglas. And grossly unreliable.
The morning we were scheduled for Breakfast with the Birds at the habitat center, our shuttle was 45 minutes late.
The last night we were at Thala we had reservations in town for dinner. The shuttle was a no show. We sat in the lobby for over an hour without one staff member saying a word to us. We expressed our disappointment to guest services and returned to our room. Without dinner. Guest services offered to make a reservation at the Thala restaurant. A reservation? That's the best they could do? These are not problems or solutions that one encounters at a 5 star resort.
The night before we wanted to have dinner at Thala. We showed up at the restaurant at 6:50pm. There were 3 tables occupied. The hostess informed us they would not have another seating until 7:30. What the heck is that? A 40 minute wait for an empty restaurant. Not 5 star. And dinner was very expensive for average food.
The wait staff is underdressed and uninformed.

On a positive note, Diana, from the Sales department was a pleasure to deal with. She was accommodating as she booked 2 excursions for us. And we did receive a bottle of champagne in our room on arrival. A very nice touch.

Thala is an ok place to get away for a night, especially for those that don't get away often. But if you are looking for a true 5 star resort, find somewhere else..

Room Tip: The Eucalypt room means "no view".
  • Stayed: February 2014, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank kmcg21
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Thala_management, Manager at Thala Beach Nature Reserve, responded to this reviewResponded March 23, 2014

We are so disappointed these clients did not enjoy their stay with us however Thala Beach Lodge can not be compared with a 5 star inner city, corporate hotel, complete with magnetic key card and digital safes.

Thala is a deluxe nature retreat, where a passionate team creates amazing guest experiences in one of the most beautiful regions in the world.

However these clients have raised a number of valid issues that do not at all reflect the guest experience we endeavour to deliver. We can assure readers that every item of concern has been passed onto the relevant department heads and service providers for immediate rectification.

We thank these guests for the positive feedback with regards to Diana in our Adventure Desk and hope that one day they might return to experience the Thala we pride ourselves on.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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