A PICTURE-perfect postcard image is the hallmark of Palm Cove in far north Queensland: white sands beckon, palm trees sway in the tropical breeze and where the rainforest meets the sea.
This is where the daily tedium ends and the exceptional begins.
Just 25 minutes north of Cairns International Airport, the surprisingly cosmopolitan village in Palm Cove is ideally located for exploring the magical attractions of tropical north Queensland.
You can certainly unwind on the palm-fringed white sandy beach and contemplate the gentle waves of the Coral Sea, be adventurous and go for white-water rafting, take a 4WD safari or tone down the pace with golf.
Set sail for the colourful coral gardens of the Great Barrier Reef, take a journey through the ancient rainforests of the Daintree and Cape Tribulation or head for the hills and the unassuming wonders of the Atherton Tableland.
Experience the inviting character exuded by the quaint village - where no building is higher than the coconut palms - and you'll find restaurants, old-world retail outlets, bars and cafes.
In the midst of this is the tranquil sanctuary of the Reef House Boutique Resort and Spa that enjoys idyllic, beach frontage in Williams Esp overlooking the Coral Sea.
The plantation design of this 69-room waterfront property exudes a dazzling character - particularly with the white buildings - as a perfect foil to turquoise pools and attractive gardens of blooming red hibiscus, fragrant frangipanis and hot pink bougainvillea vines. The towering melaleucas are a magnificent statement on entry.
GENERAL manager Brett Skinner is proud of the resort's history with some stylish restoration in store since the takeover by Accor.
Duty manager Ram Bharadwaj, 28, who has built up an impressive portfolio of work with the hotel group, is excited about the planned refurbishment at Reef House, saying it will be a "great challenge ahead to bring the hotel back to its old glory, with realistic timelines".
The resort has a certain undeniable sophistication: it oozes character with the added attraction of access to the beach across the road. The rooms offer privacy with the luxury of balconies that provide uninterrupted sea, pool or garden views.
The signature restaurant offers an unforgettable dining experience with the combination of location and delectable modern Australian cuisine made from hand-picked fresh produce teamed with attentive service.
That was certainly the case as we feasted on the five-course degustation
menu that was matched to award-winning Australian and international wines and served with flair. It was created with passion by executive chef Ashe Lewis and his dynamic team, proving that simple ingredients are the reason for success.
Lime and Pepper
Down the road is another lovely property - Peppers Beach Club and Spa - where dining at the Lime and Pepper restaurant is a sheer treat, near a majestic melaleuca tree that takes centre stage.
General manager Chris Northam confidently speaks of the high standards set by executive chef Thomas Ege that ensures exceptional quality, range and style of cuisine at the well-appointed 'beach club'.
Ege loves to cook classic dishes in a modern style and excels in sourcing local produce and combining it with an innovative take on some of the local bush tucker, herbs and spices.
Native finger limes and Davidson plums feature in dishes such as the entree of 'Daintree vanilla salt and lime zest spiced grilled quail with apple leek salad and Sun Set Ridge farm Davidson plum jam'.
Other menu highlights include mains such as Ege's signature dish of a gluten-free 'lemon myrtle marinated Grimaud duck breast on creamy orange risotto, vanilla foam and asparagus', alongside choices such as 'grilled Gulf of Carpentaria tiger prawns with light Daintree Estate chocolate froth, bright micro herb flower salad and coffee lime dressing'.
One dessert selection is enticing: 'white chocolate and porcini mousse in dark chocolate brittle cannelloni with spicy tableland mango salsa and coconut sauce'.
Whatever your fancy - colonial 'beach house' luxury, adventure or leisure - there will be no shortage of options as you relax, unwind and recharge after exploring the region's natural wonders from reef to the rainforest - and everything else in between.
The writer was a guest of Reef House Boutique Resort and Spa.
IF YOU GO
Reef House Boutique Resort and Spa
99 Williams Esp, Palm Cove
Phone: (07) 4055 3633
Peppers Beach Club and Spa
123 Williams Esp, Palm Cove
Phone: (07) 4059 9200