The luxury casino is actually part of the Accor family of hotels, and is grouped within the Pullman chain, though this property is five-star and has only 128 rooms—all of them recently updated and rather spacious, with city or water views.
If you haven’t been to Cairns, it’s in northern Queensland, meaning a full-on tropical climate where the order of the day is sun, fun, surfing and diving. In other words, this is a strictly leisure facility where Aussies and internationals come to let loose. Rates start at $169 AUD (or $150 USD).
Back to what got us excited about this property, though: The Cairns Wildlife Dome. This hotel actually has a small zoo on the rooftop! It contains over 100 species of native Australian birds who fly freely around the dome (so duck, and watch out for splatters!), wallabies roaming the rainforest exhibit, plus all the usual suspects like koalas, lizards, possums and pythons. There’s also a four-meter saltwater crocodile to creep you out.
Now that we think about it, we actually heard about another unique experience in Australia while we were at ATE. The Marriott Surfers Paradise is also in Queensland, but near Brisbane, and it has a heated saltwater lagoon pool with a manmade white sand beach and coral reef that is stocked with over 400 tropical fish.
Hotel guests can snorkel in the pool and take scuba classes there as they prepare to take on the Great Barrier Reef. It also has a lava tube waterslide—for when you just want to make a splash and scare the fish. Rates at the hotel start at about $239 AUD ($212 USD), but we’d wait to stay there until they finish the refurbishment, which will start next year.
[Photo: The Reef Hotel Casino on Facebook ]