Sea Temple Palm Cove is the premiere luxury resort at Palm Cove, five minutes north of Cairns.
Sea Temple is removed from the main town. It lies some hundreds of metres to the south. There’s a pleasant, well-cleared path and wooden bridge down to the beach. The resort’s stretch of beach is a narrow strip of sand with deck chairs for those who want to enjoy the tropical sun. Like so many tropical beaches, there is nothing very special about the warm, rather murky waters which, protected from the force of the Pacific Ocean by the reef, quietly lap against the shore. It is not possible to swim in the summer months because of the likelihood of deadly jellyfish and Sweetwater Creek has to be a very tempting accommodation option for the local crocs.
There are strict planning laws in this part of North Queensland and consequently Sea Temple is located amidst a particularly beautiful stand of mature melaleucas. At certain vantage points – from the balconies of the bures for example – you’ll feel as though you’re deep in a melaleuca forest.
Thematically, Sea Temple is a hotel obsessed with water. The tinkling sound of running water greets the visitor at every turn. There are water feature walls, small pools of running water which edge the bures, and the centre of the hotel features three swimming pools – a wading pool is available for children and non-swimmers; eight apartments have their own plunge pools; there is a large pool for general swimming and for people wanting to do laps; and there is the lagoon which lies between the bar and hotel’s north wing.
The complex, which is laid out with the rooms, bures and apartments on four sides and the swimming pools and bar area in the centre, comprises 126 apartments. They range from one to four bedroom apartments, some which boast features such as a penthouse spa, swimout and barbecue facilities, to studios of a more conventional hotel design. The room rates range from $460 per night for the studios through $580 for the one-bedroom apartments, $780 per night for the two-bedroom apartments, $1200 for the three-bedroom apartments and $1600 for the two four-bedroom apartments and the four bures.
There is an aesthetic coherence to the rooms, which again feature contemporary Asian style reinterpreted to the tropical environment. Thus the apartments and bures all have a wonderfully clean, light feeling which is enriched by the use of light and water, the two dominant themes in the hotel.
Each apartment features ceramic vases from Vietnam, woven sisal floor rugs and bed cushions in hand-woven cotton and raw silks from India and bedside tables and wall consoles from Malaysia. The outdoor daybed and coffee table are from government-controlled plantations in Myanmar and most of the other furniture – the timber dining table, leather weave chairs, living room sofa, coco twig trays, almond laminated trays – are from the Philippines.
The penthouses seem to be designed primarily for entertaining. The roof, accessed by a spiral staircase, includes a spa bath, views across to the ocean and a large barbecue. You can either order high quality meats and other foodstuffs from the kitchen or, if you really want a special night, you can hire the Head Chef, who’ll come and cook your barbecue for you.
All of the rooms are fitted out with full-sized fridges and state-of-the-art grillers and ovens, except the studios, which are five-star hotel rooms.
The hotel restaurant offers a Mod Oz style of cuisine and boasts an extensive Australian wine list. The only overseas wines available are sauvignon blancs from New Zealand and French champagnes.
Like Silky Oaks, Sea Temple is serviced by all the main mainland tour providers. Sea Temple does not deny entry to children, but for them it’s not an ideal accommodation option. It has no children’s menu, no kids’ club and no specific facilities for children.