Home At The Cove Alamanda Palm Cove, Australia

Published 02 March 2017   

A celestial stretch of beach snakes its way through the Queensland holiday enclave of Palm Cove and continues lazily to both the north and south.

Written by: Emma Westwood

Noshing at Nu Nu. Award-winning dining on-site at Alamanda.

A smattering of people lie on the sand, and even less stroll by. The tide laps delicately at the shoreline, with the Great Barrier Reef providing a natural buffer from the surf. The air is tinged with tropical warmth. Late August in Australia is also late winter so even Far North Queensland (FNQ) feels a touch cooler than the usual. Come Christmas/New Year and the humidity soars to high heaven so, despite the tranquillity of August, this is still deemed high season. Given tourists here are more grey nomadic or young families with pregnant women, this might account for the general sense of ‘chill out’ rather than ‘party on’.

In 1918, a gentleman named Albert Veivers purchased a 200-acre plot of land in the Cove for the bargain price of 200 pounds from the rector of St Johns Church of England in Cairns. The only way to access it was by horse or foot but, still, Veivers’ wife, Elizabeth Matthison – a sharp business mind in her own right – felt certain property prices would rise once a road was constructed. She was correct but poor Elizabeth wouldn’t see it happen because she died tragically in a house fire.

Known by the Veivers as ‘Double Island’ or ‘Palm Beach’, Palm Cove was appointed its modern name in the mid-1950s. The Veiver family built the first structure in the area from bush timber and bark on what is now the site of the Grand Mercure Rockford Apartments – the corner of Veivers Road and Williams Esplanade. They would, appropriately, use it as their holiday residence and set the tone for Palm Cove’s primary commercial interest to this day, apart from the Cove’s momentary use for air force and army active training during the 20th century World Wars.

Resort life. Retreat within the Alamanda grounds.

Catch a flight to Cairns, take a 25-minute drive up the well-manicured Captain Cook Highway, follow the turn-off signs, and the old Veiver family site (aka. Grand Mercure) sits right at the heart of Palm Cove. Across the road on absolute beachfront – although carefully protected from the crocodiles that would liberally feast on the livestock of the early farmers – is the breezy Alamanda Palm Cove, rebranded from Angsana (Banyan Tree Group) in March 2014.

The ‘heart’ of Palm Cove may be well populated these days but it is also small, and the Alamanda’s prime position a few metres closer to the ocean tips it over from excellent holiday accommodation to ideal. Consider it the difference between motorised vehicles waking you in the morning to being tenderly coaxed from the arms of sleep by the rhythmic lapping of waves. Don’t be surprised to welcome the dawn from your balcony and find a yoga class saluting the sun just below you.

Somewhat of a sprawling property, Alamanda is amply appointed with more than one swimming pool (including an ‘adults only’ beachside one and another invitingly heated for the winter months), an in-house spa complex with bookable pavilions and the very Australian attraction of on-site BBQs readily available for your own alfresco dining if eating at the local restaurants puts the pinch on your wallet.

Being such an elite and remote enclave means things come at a price at Palm Cove. But Alamanda provides the answer to imminent bankruptcy by fitting out your suite with as many extras as possible, including an ample supply of coffee pods for a constant java hit. Featuring décor that is conservatively elegant rather than remarkable, the suites are also spectacularly large in size (the smallest at 85 square metres) with balconies, fully equipped kitchens and separate laundry facilities, completing the ‘home away from home’ tag. One-bedroom suites even feature two bathrooms – one of which has a spa bath – meaning many city dwellers are likely to find their Alamanda digs more spacious than their usual residence.

The diners come out to play. Dusk on Williams Esplanade.

General Manager of Alamanda Palm Cove, Ty Goulter, felt quite comfortable moving to the Queensland tropics in 2014 having worked in warmer climes for much of his career, mostly Fiji. Ask him about the appeal of Palm Cove and he doesn’t hesitate naming its “laid-back hidden getaway” quality. “There’s no hustle and bustle but it’s close enough to the hustle and bustle if you need it”, he says, although Cairns feels quite laid-back itself compared to the persistent chaos of South East Asian cities.

For Goulter, service is the notable quality that makes Alamanda stand out from other resorts of its type: “Without a doubt, our model is market-leading. We keep everything relaxed and friendly. Like everyone, we make mistakes but we more than make up for them.”

“We provide extensive family services – not only cots and highchairs like most other resorts but going the next step with prams, baby baths, potties, playmats, fishing kits, kites, etc,” continues Goulter. “We even have a door-to-door service where a driver picks you up from your house (in capital cities) and loads your bags and so on, and the same on this end, so you don’t have to lift a thing from home to here and back. Basically, we do our upmost to personalise every stay.”

Alamanda’s spacious apartments. The ultimate Queenslander.

The focus on service appears to be working, with Alamanda Palm Cove leaping from number 12 position of 13 hotels in Palm Cove on Trip Adviser to a number five position of, not just hotels in the area, but all hotels in Australia, in just two years.

Fervent foodies with their eyes trained on MasterChef Australia and Australian restaurant awards will be thrilled to note the inclusion of Nu Nu on the Alamanda premises. Named by Brisbane Times Good Food Guide as ‘Regional Restaurant of the Year 2016’ and placed number 45 in the Gourmet Traveller ‘Top 100 Restaurants in Australia for 2016’, Nu Nu is a culinary destination point in itself.

While Nu Nu is under separate ownership, those with an Alamanda breakfast package get to dine every morning on the Nu Nu menu, including the likes of Cider Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar and Passionfruit Curd. In the evening, the seven-course tasting menu with matching wines is an absolute must, kicked off at cocktail hour with a Bush Lemon Margarita or the cheekily named Chicky Chicky Chow Chow.

A vista made for two. Alamanda’s absolute beachfront.

A wander down the Palm Cove esplanade – which is pretty much the main drag and the sole focus of this enclave – and other restaurants beckon, from the coastal relaxed Rising Sun to the more low-key homemade Indian of Anita’s Spice. A week’s stay will see you thoroughly familiar with Palm Cove’s offering, although it is highly recommended to rent a car and travel out to nearby attractions such as Cairns, Atherton Tablelands and the Daintree Rainforest, or take a boat to the reef.

The Veiver family was definitely onto something when they claimed this special FNQ nook known as ‘Palm Cove’ as their own almost 100 years ago. They may not have necessarily envisaged 21st century tourism but, in looking forward, they’d be pleased to know their beloved stretch of beach shows little of the spoils of mass population and, sometimes, it feels just as untouched as the early 1900s. Meander, meditate and muse to your heart’s content – Palm Cove is for living in the moment.

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