When good friends from Adelaide suggested we all jet off to Port Douglas over Easter to catch up over some cocktails by the pool, we simply couldn’t refuse. Thankfully, Virgin Australia had return Business Class award seats to Cairns available and the Sheraton Grand Mirage Port Douglas also had rooms available for redemption.
Research & Booking
The Sheraton Grand Port Douglas is ranked #19 out of 42 hotels in Port Douglas on TripAdvisor, and is currently a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 hotel, I booked a base room for 35,000 points per night for three nights (the recently introduced off-peak rate of 30,000 or 40,000 during peak may also apply).
The day after booking online, I received an email with the subject ‘Points Booking Cancellation Policy’ which was tersely worded and warning me they’ll charge me $358 if I cancel this points booking within 5 days of arrival. There was no, “I can see you haven’t stayed with us before, we’re excited to welcome you”, “thank you for being a loyal member for so many years” or “here are some activities we can organise for your stay”, instead, a harsh email about cancellation penalties. Now, when I book a holiday, the last thing I’m thinking about is when I’m going to cancel it, especially when the timeframe was clearly shown on the website at the time of booking.
I replied straight back saying how inappropriately toned the email was for the very first point of contact from the hotel. The reservation supervisor, and then the reservation manager, were quick to phone to say they’ve taken the feedback on board, reviewed and had already amended their award redemption cancellation communication.
Two days before the stay I noticed on the Marriott app that our room had been upgraded to a Premium Lagoon Edge Guest Room w/ Pool Access. Checking online, the room was valued at $649 per night.
Lobby & Check-in
The Sheraton Grand Port Douglas is located approximately an hour from Cairns Airport. We had the hotel arrange a shuttle for us for $44 per person.
Originally developed by the notorious Christopher Skase, the Mirage originally opened in 1987.
We entered the property via a long driveway lined with palm trees and there is no denying you’re entering paradise in Far North Queensland.
Porters greeted us at the front door to take our bags whilst we checked in.
Stepping into reception, my eyes were immediately drawn upwards to the huge ceiling, and I started to get a feel of how they have blended the old with the new. There is no hiding the age of the property, but a $43 million major redevelopment that was completed in 2016 has helped modernise the property and eliminate some of the gaudy features that were initially installed by Skase and his developers in the eighties.
The gentleman at reception who welcomed us was very laid-back, with the interaction very casual. He didn’t acknowledge my Bonvoy status as is required, nor did he mention the welcome amenity I could choose from.
But then the very friendly Chrissy stepped out from the back office to apologise for the unwelcoming, welcome email and to explain they acted very quickly to improve the communication.
We were then escorted to our room.
A bottle of Champagne was waiting for our arrival which was a lovely gesture.
At 42sqm, our Premium Lagoon Edge room was similar in size as the standard guest room, but does have direct access to the freshwater lagoon straight off the small balcony.
The room styling was simple and uncluttered, and to be honest, we were only in the room to sleep.
Complimentary bottles of water are provided for Marriott Bonvoy members.
Sadly, the Premium Rooms must make do with instant coffee whereas the Studios have capsule machines.
With most hotels now leaving mini bars empty, it was refreshing to see that this hotel still stocks them.
The work desk went unused during our stay.
The only fault we had with our room was the air conditioning, which was too loud at the lowest fan speed. Plus, the sliding door to the balcony was jammed shut. A call to reception had a maintenance team member onsite within minutes whilst we headed out to the pool. On our return, both were fixed.
The bathroom features a shower over a corner bath and a single vanity.
It doesn’t have an external window, instead, the window faces into the room. The lounge chair is just on the other side of the window.
Le grand bain toiletries are supplied.
The Sheraton Grand Mirage is home to two restaurants, a cocktail bar, café and a pool-side lagoon bar.
Breakfast is held in the all-day dining Feast Restaurant. Free breakfast can be selected as a welcome amenity by Platinum or higher Bonvoy members, however, as this wasn’t covered at check-in, I had to go through the details every morning with the breakfast staff to have the charge waived.
Made-to-order eggs are also available.
Marriott Bonvoy members also earn up to 10 points for every US$1 spent at Feast Restaurant and save between 10-20% off depending on the members’ Elite tier status. Plus, kids of Marriott Bonvoy members will enjoy complimentary breakfast and ice-cream.
We also dined at Feast one evening for one of their special seafood buffets.
Light lunch bites and cocktails were available from the lagoon bar.
The dining highlight was at Harrisons by Spencer Patrick–the most nationally award restaurant in Port Douglas. The restaurant was surprisingly empty, yet the food was just divine!
The hotel grounds are stunning, with nine swimmable lagoon pools which wrap around the main hotel wings with a combination of both freshwater and saltwater pools. Chrissy and her team continued their amazing service recovery with a round of complimentary espresso martinis for us and our friends at one of the poolside cabanas that she had reserved for us.
The resort promotes they have a fitness centre, yet it’s actually located out the main driveway, across the multi-lane road, and in the Mirage Country Club, a partner property.
The distance will probably deter anyone with diminished holiday fitness willpower, but we made the effort to go every day to balance out the cocktails by the pool.
An 18-hole golf course is also onsite, Four Mile Beach close by and just a five-minute Uber/shuttle into town.
Fast and free Wi-Fi covers the entire property.
Around the hotel
The property is not in Port Douglas itself, with the town accessible with a few minutes drive or taxi, or a longer walk – either along the road or the beach.
Despite the rough start with the reservation email and check-in team member who didn’t follow the process, the service recovery by Chrissy and her team as well as the rest of our stay at the property couldn’t be faulted. Also, kudos to the hotel for being receptive to my feedback. We continued to run into Chrissy throughout our stay who continued to check with us to make sure everything was perfect.
For a relaxing break away, this property ticks all the boxes; luscious landscaping, lap or lagoon pools, great food and cocktails, and facilities available for whatever interests you.