Business Events Cairns & Great Barrier Reef along with micenet AUSTRALIA hosted nine buyers for a famil in TNQ. And what a trip.
BY JENNY GILL
Off the plane and we were ready to explore the region. First up was the Tanks Arts Centre situated in the Cairns Botanical Gardens precinct. This innovative and iconic, multi-arts facility, is creatively housed in three converted WWII naval oil storage tanks – opening up a multitude of ideas for the events market.
Onto the award-winning Cairns Convention Centre we enjoyed a scrumptious welcome lunch followed by a site inspection of the region’s largest event and conference space centre which this year has hosted the highest percentage of international conferences of all Australian convention centres.
Next we visited the newest attraction Cairns ZOOm and Wildlife Dome – an all-weather wildlife exhibit encased by a 20-metre high glass dome on the rooftop of the Pullman Reef Hotel Casino where we got up close and personal with the resident animals and had a sneak preview of Cairns’ newest adventure activity of zip lines and ropes course. This experience has the added thrill of travelling over an enclosure occupied by Goliath – a four-metre long, 700kg crocodile. This will definitely be popular with the groups market!
Just a short trip up the road we dropped into the beautiful tropical surrounds of Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort. This modern contemporary style property has five modern conference and event rooms on offer and can cater for events of up to 300 guests. After a site inspection we enjoyed tropical cocktails and snacked on a selection of delicious seafood under their poolside gazebo.
We then boarded the bus for a magnificent scenic drive marvelling at the glistening coastline and an amazing sunset on our way to Port Douglas.
Experiencing a range of accommodation in Port Douglas the group were divided with some staying at Peppers Beach Club Resort & Spa and the rest at the recently-rebranded and refurbished QT Resort.
We glammed up and enjoyed a glass of bubbly and canapés poolside at the Peppers Beach Club. The resort’s elegant open-air design is reminiscent of a Mediterranean villa, with meetings facilities suitable for a range of groups and activities. After checking out the resort’s beautifully appointed accommodation and luxury facilities, it was then onto the Sea Temple Resort & Spa Port Douglas. With beautifully detailed rooms and luxury apartments, the resort easily accommodates smaller meetings and conferences and is ideal for incentive tours.While a local singing duo entertained us, we dined in style on the most lusciously flavoured menu alongside the grand lagoon pool.
We started the day off with a tour of QT, a unique five-star property which includes 170 spacious guest rooms with garden or pool views, an all new bazaar marketplace, and a large pool with swim up bar. QT offers exciting opportunities for groups. It was then onto the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas resort for a sumptuous breakfast alongside one of its five sparkling blue lagoons. Later, we checked out its range of unique function venues and heard of the future plans to restore the Sheraton Mirage to its former glory.
After getting some sand between our toes on the adjacent Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas Incentives gave our group a few surprises, putting on a memorable morning activity starting with a ride on the wild side – a personalised trike ride to Flagstaff Hill which has the best views in Port.
We then rode down to Port Douglas’s waterfront where we were visited by some of the animals from Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas (part of the Capta group) – a small croc and a carpet snake, with those brave enough to hold the snake welcome to do so. Port Douglas Catering & Events were here as well, and had us eating out of a pot plant for morning tea.
More surprises followed and before we knew it we were up, up and away with Skysafari for a scenic helicopter flight. We got a bird’s eye view of the awesome coastline before landing in the field surrounding the eco-accredited Thala Beach Lodge. Located on a private headland overlooking the magnificent views of the coast we checked out Thala’s very unique deluxe timber stilted bungalows that are sensitively positioned, learnt of the beneficial properties of coconut oil from resident coconut plantation expert ‘Coconut Karl’ and enjoyed tropical cocktails and a lunch that blends the tang of the ocean with delicious tropical flavours– a hard place to leave.
Once refuelled we headed to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures where we mingled with an array of tropical critters and hopped on a boat down the river with an entertaining Steve Irwin wannabe called Duncan who provided some very informative commentary. Crocodiles were sighted almost immediately. Hartley’s can be used for incentives, and as an off-site venue for events.
Our next destination was the beautiful beachside village of Palm Cove – an intimate location where conference venues are within walking distance of restaurants and the beach. We headed to our accommodation at The Reef House Resort & Spa and Peppers Beach Club & Spa. First stop was The Reef House – an idyllic and indulgent boutique resort – where we enjoy cocktails and snacks in its signature restaurant which overlooks the white sandy beach opposite. Following a site inspection we moved onto the award-winning Peppers Beach Club & Spa where we enjoyed pre-dinner drinks and canapés and a site inspection followed by dinner in a secret rainforest location at the Novotel Resort Palm Cove. What a magical night it was!
A sensational breakfast at Salt House, a great off-site indoor outdoor venue situated at Marina Point on the waterfront in Cairns preceded another action-packed day of activities. We hit the reef with Sunlover Reef Cruises and were later treated to another chopper flight with GBR Helicopters for a bird’s eye view of this amazing natural wonder. Snorkelling, scuba diving and the Sea Walker were all enjoyed prior to lunch.
After a magical day on the reef – we even saw a whale – we did a site inspection of the centrally-located Pullman Reef Hotel Casino. As half of the group checked in here the other half headed across the road to the Pullman Cairns International (formally Sebel Cairns). There was only a short time to freshen up before pre-dinner drinks and canapés at the Pacific International Hotel. Following six months of refurbishment this hotel recently opened its doors to the new-look Pacific Conference & Events Centre. Featuring state-of-the-art audio-visual, flexible meeting space and a stunning new pool deck perfect for cocktail parties, this property, located in the heart of Cairns, provides great opportunities for groups up to 350 people.
We then wandered across the road for our farewell dinner which was an evening of fine food, wine and entertainment set in an exclusive spot on the Cairns Esplanade with Ochre Catering. Red glowing lanterns bobbing on string above a beautifully set table stretched along the boardwalk – a memorable night indeed.
We began the morning with a site inspection of the world-class five-star Pullman Cairns International – a picture of colonial charm and tropical elegance. Ideally located just a stones’ throw from all that Cairns has to offer, this beautiful heritage-style hotel is just a block from the Cairns Convention Centre, sitting directly opposite The Pullman Reef Casino, and two blocks from the Pier Marina.
Afterwards, we headed to the heritage-inspired Freshwater Station with Kuranda Scenic Railway for a fabulous breakfast overlooking the fields of sugar cane.
We later got high with Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, gliding just metres above the canopy for a bird’s eye view of Australia’s World Heritage-listed tropical rainforest, before hopping off at two mid-stations to explore and learn about this ancient environment. Onto Kuranda – the village in the rainforest – where there was some free time to take a stroll through Kuranda village and discover some of the local handmade artworks before we headed to the airport.