Reef retreat

The Reef House Palm Cove is a one-of-a-kind, adults-only retreat that offers pure tranquillity.

24 August 2022


It’s not often you get something complimentary, especially at a divine five-star resort. Yet at the Reef House Palm Cove there’s a huge array of gratis activities on offer that will tempt you away from the beach or out of bed early at this adults-only retreat.

Take the cocktail classes for example. Who doesn’t want to learn how to make a Margarita with a dash of chilli on the side and drink it afterwards?  Not many turn down this offering, which is why it’s important to book for the mixology as well as for the wine and digestive tastings.

There’s also complimentary punch and canapes in the Brigadiers Lounge hosted by the GM, and an honesty bar – obviously this one isn’t complimentary!

Not all activities involve alcohol. My favourite ones held by the wonderful Reef House are the beachfront yoga and stretch and breathe classes.

Another very special experience the hotel provides is the staff, especially the wonderful Cedric. Cedric makes the hotel an all-round incredible stay.


It’s not just his French accent that endears him to you or his smile that conveys that he really is happy to see you, it’s the fact that he just happens to be in the right place at the right time, all the time.

Times like when you would like another cocktail but the sun is in the exact right position beaming down on you while you stretch out on your lounge by the pool, or when you’re about to book a spa treatment but you can’t decide which one and you need advice, or when you’re running late and you need a car pronto, and there he is already having considered your need and opening the door of a Mercedes for you.

Activities. Tick. Staff. Tick. But what about the actual hotel? It too is something to boast about.

It was one of the first hotels to open on the sandy crescent that is Palm Cove, twenty-five minutes north of Cairns. Embracing the palm-fringed Coral Sea, it’s the ideal hotel for honeymoons and couples.

The hotel features an adults’ only tranquillity pool and a heated mineral pool. There’s also the Reef House Restaurant, the day spa which is the best of the spas in the region, the Brigadiers Honesty Bar where you can help yourself to a cocktail, a library with board games and fishing rods and vintage cruisers for you to use.

Check in at this colonial beach house vibe of a hotel begins with a cocktail and a cold towel before a private tour of the hotel. Built in 1958 as the private home of a bookmaker, it was later developed by Brigadier David Thompson who was an MP and a soldier.

Today, the house is British colonial style meets the Mediterranean with bougainvillaea, plantation-style shutters and white walls.

The hotel consists of 67 rooms and suites giving guests a private sanctuary in which to retreat. There is indoor outdoor design incorporating swing seating, garden patios and private balcony spa baths.

The Reef House is spectacularly different from so many resorts because it offers tranquillity. This is the tranquillity you find when there are no children around.

One of the Reef House’s huge points of difference is that they are an adults-only retreat, which means no-one under the age of 16 passes through its doors.

Peace is a huge plus, especially when you either have no children, left the children with the family at home, or you’re an empty nester – this, above, all sold me.

In terms of location, The Reef House offers up proximity to the main strip of Palm Cove with its boutique shopping, restaurants and cafes. It’s also set between the Great Barrier Reef and the wet tropics, which means snorkelling one day and rainforest touring the next.

Snorkelling or diving the world’s largest reef system showcases countless species of tropical fish, corals, dolphins, jellyfish and even whales. Rainforest touring in the wet tropics is about open fields, green flora and waterfalls and of course, the amazing Daintree.

The convivial atmosphere comes to the fore during the nightly rum punch at the Brigadiers which happens at sunset. It is a truly pleasant way to begin an evening followed by dinner on a covered wooden deck at the beachfront restaurant.

I can’t wait to return to the Reef House. It offers everything you could possibly want for a divine, hassle-free tropical holiday in Far North Queensland.



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