Last updated 25 October 2020
My review on the Riley, a Crystalbrook Collection Resort
Besides the agreeable temperature and friendly locals, another feature about Cairns I love, nothing is too far away. From the airport, it is only 4.8 kilometres to the Cairns esplanade (a 10 minute drive) to my home for the next few nights, at the Riley.
The lobby is light-filled and open plan, overlooking their ‘statement’ lagoon pool. My attention is drawn to the guests relaxing on lounges on the pool deck, as others splash in the water. Something I’m keen to do as soon as I’m checked in.
A smiling check-in person catches my eye (drawing me away from that pool) and I’m effortlessly allocated my room, receiving a timber key (one of Riley’s efforts in operating “responsibly” – cutting back on plastic waste.)
I’m in Cairns to attend a travel conference. One of my Sydney colleagues sashays past covered in an eye-catching blue and white kimono – I think it’s the perfect poolside attire. Later on, I must ask her where she purchased it from, I want one!
My resort room
My room is on the 5th floor of the 311-room property. The view from my balcony beyond the unusual looking 12-storey cylindrical tower (the likeness of an Olympic torch?!) towards the Coral Coast, is easy on the eye.
Apart from the pop of colour from the on-trend cushions, the room is a neutral palette.
In more efforts to consider the environment, Riley has replaced water bottles with recyclable cardboard cartons. (Fact: I am still re-using this carton nine months later – now that’s true recycling!) The room keys are made from 100% recycled wood and the shower has refillable bottles infused with native botanicals – also saving on plastic.
Once the balcony doors are closed the room is quiet, the air-conditioning making a low hum. One night I had to leave the balcony doors open as my air-conditioner was refusing to switch on (rectified in the morning with reception re-programming my room. Hint ring them earlier if you are bothered by having to leave your balcony doors open. I wasn’t.)
If I had the time, I could choose to watch one of the hundreds of movies on the large flatscreen smart TV (Google Chromecast streaming facility.) I did manage to squeeze in a few awkward stretches using the complimentary yoga mat I found in the cupboard.
Choices run from Mediterranean-style Rocco on the tower’s top floor. At 42 metres above sea level, you’re greeted with a spectacular view towards the Coral Sea. At Rocco’s, you can order tapas plates to share. And thank you Riley for creating a menu that lights up when you open it. (Considering people like me who find it hard to read menus in dimly lit places = thumbs up.)
Our group was more interested in the cocktail list. And with 200 types of champagne and sparkling wine, you could be there for a while trying to decide.
Breakfast is served at Paper Crane in the morning (at the time of writing this was temporarily closed because of Covid-19. I’ll update the post when I know what the alternative is to the buffet I dined on in 2019.) Paper Crane transforms into a restaurant for lunch and dinner with a modern Asian menu (I devoured the Thai Beef Salad with crispy shallots.) The tables out front are the place to be for people-watching at nighttime. (Lunchtime in full sun was a little too warm for me.)
Greenfields café is tucked into the basement of the tower offers healthy options – poke bowls, freshly made cold-pressed juices, coffees and cocktails.
The lagoon swimming pool is spacious. At 1000 square meters it’s unlikely to be crowded.
There may be a first in best dressed for the sun lounges though and possibly a few arguments over who gets their hands on the resident blow up toys (unicorn I love you!)
There is the Eleme Day Spa (I did not have the opportunity to indulge, but another friend did and said she’d highly recommend her massage treatment.) The menu includes the ‘Ultimate Safari ritual’ – five hours of treatment for those keen to really indulge in pampering.
Remember I mentioned earlier, that I’d admired a colleague’s robe on arriving at the Riley. Turns out it was the standard robe (in all rooms.) I purchased one when checking out and whenever I slip this on in Brisbane, I reminisce about my stay at the Riley.
The Riley is in an ideal location on the Esplanade. It is close to Reef Marina, restaurants, shops, the markets and the Aquarium. The rooms are comfortable and quiet. The lifts were efficient and there never seemed to be a long delay waiting for one. I discovered there is a section in their stunning pool that can be used as a lap pool – about 15 meters in length. The balcony chairs are comfortable and an ideal possie for an afternoon reading with a G & T.
Oh yes Riley, I’ll be back*.
* This is the second property in the portfolio of the Australian hotel chain, Crystalbrook Collection. The Baily and Flynn are within cooee of each other in Cairns, also offering an indulgent, yet uniquely different experience. Maybe I’ll review them next time I’m in Cairns.