While I was studying on the Gold Coast, I visited Lamington National Park (just south of the Gold Coast) almost every month for a bush walk, and always wondered how would it feel to stay for a few nights at the famous O’Reilly’s Mountain Resort (www.oreillys.com.au). Twelve years later, I finally got a chance to stay there and the stay felt too short. Here’s why.
Situated just behind the bustling entertainment city of the Gold Coast and in Lamington National Park, this is a great place to end your visit to the Gold Coast. Getting there is quite an adventure … you would need to drive (or book a bus transfer) through a mountainous scenic drive and a subtropical rainforest. Give yourself about an hour to get there from Gold Coast, and I suggest you try to arrive at O’Reilly’s before sunset because the drive gets tougher after dark.
The location is heavenly if you’re into the great outdoors, because it is inside the Lamington National Park, with more than 20 different rainforest walks to choose from, depending on your physical fitness. You can choose to do a short 10-minute bushwalk that is wheelchair-accessible to a full day walk through mountains, valleys, creeks, waterfalls and rainforests. A walking track map is available in every room of the hotel.
If you’re spooked about the idea of going into a rainforest unguided, you can book a guide to go with you. O’Reilly’s charges less than any bushwalk tour operators for a guided tour of the rainforest, and their guides can be much more experienced because they live and breathe there.
The Room ****
We stayed one night in a mountain view room that has 1 king bed and 1 single bed, plus a sofa bed that can fit another two persons. The room is huge, with a balcony frequented by lorikeet and bowerbirds. If you put tiny pieces of chips or breads on your balcony, I can guarantee that a few birds will flock on your balcony in the morning to eat. The view of the mountain is also breathtaking.
The room doesn’t have TV and internet. Rightfully so, because the whole point about staying there is enjoying the nature walk, the wildlife, and the scenery. It doesn’t even have air-conditioning. It doesn’t need one anyway …. the place is cool throughout the day, and occasionally you will need to turn on the heater at night.
However, they also do not have an in-room phone, which means you can’t even call the restaurant to make a dinner reservation .. you have to walk to the restaurant to do that. That’s probably quite intentional too, to ensure that you stay physically active 😀
The Service *****
A family-run resort, the staff are very friendly, knowledgeable and personable. Ask any one of them which nature walk to take, and they will tell you which one based on your conditions. When you walk around the hotel, they will strike up a conversation with you, share with you when they spot an animal in the dark, and tell you the history and funny stories about the hotel.
They are very casual … they let you make your own drinks at the restaurant all day (hot chocolate, different types of Twinnings tea, coffee, etc.) and bring the cups to your room. If you eat in any of their restaurants and can’t finish them, you’re free to bring the plate back to your room.
The only glitch we had was when the receptionist told us that our reservation is not in their system, when we actually had received a confirmation slip from them. Good thing their resort was not full that day … otherwise I won’t be writing any nice things here. So, as a precaution if you make an online reservation, call the hotel a few days before you check in to ensure that your booking is already recorded in your system.
The Food *****
This place has the best western breakfast of all the hotels we’ve visited in the world. Seriously. They don’t offer that much in terms of variety, but what they do have are none but the best. Fresh honey combs. Runny sunny side ups or scrambled eggs. Fresh and juicy sauted mushrooms. Crispy bacons … no greasy, rubbery, bacons like the ones we usually have at any given hotels. Home-made breads and pastries. A wide variety of premium teas and coffees. It’s a simple western breakfast, done right. Heavenly!
For lunch and dinner they have a bar and a sit-down dining room. Always make a reservation for the sit-down dining room, but stick to eating at the bar if you’re not into three-course dinners. There’s no other eating places in this area, so if you stay in this hotel you might want to pre-purchase a meal package to save a few bucks.
The Facilities *****
They compensate no TV and internet with a wide array of outdoor activities … various guided walks of the rainforest, a game room, many sofas to sit and read a book while enjoying the fireplace, bird-feeding sessions, movie / documentary screening, and board games that you can rent and bring to your room. If you don’t think your children are up for a long walk, you can leave them with the hotel staff to do some eco-friendly junior activities while you enjoy a longer walk in the rainforest.
This is the ultimate place to stay physically active in an environment that makes you feel relaxed. Forget your Blackberry, e-mail, even phone … chances are you won’t get any strong signal from up here.
We regret only staying for one night here. We recommend staying here for 2-3 nights, after which you will feel totally refreshed and ready to conquer the world 🙂