Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Niramaya - The Ultimate Tropical Retreat

When I flew from Melbourne to Cairns back on September 10, and then drove on up to Port Douglas, I was almost crippled with the pain of an injured back and dosed to the eyeballs with painkillers. But looking down on the vibrant blue of the tropical ocean and the coconut palms arching over pristine white beaches, I felt confident things were improving – and by the time my cousin drove me through the gates of Niramaya Villas & Spa, I knew I deserved the luxury haven that was unfolding before me.
Niramaya is a Sanskrit word I believe. I was told what it means but I’ve lost my important notebook, filled with just this sort of travel detail. I vaguely remember something like ‘peace’ and ‘calm’ - but as far as I was concerned at the time, when I opened the front gate to my villa, it meant ‘God, I’m glad to be here!’ I never wavered from that first impression throughout my five days at this divine retreat.

Set on 15 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, Niramaya’s Asian-inspired architecture (think Balinese-style pavilions), sets you up for a tropical indulgence you’ll remember long after the event. Designed by Grounds Kent Architects ( ) and opened back in 2006 as Bale Port Douglas, Niramaya is just a short stroll from Four Mile Beach. In my opinion, it reigns supreme as the classiest resort environment in Port Douglas – and believe me there are plenty to choose from. I visited several others while I was in Port Douglas and while each had their charm, none came close to the level of personal comfort provided by Niramaya.

Every villa – and there are four different styles – is like a home away from home, only better. They all have covered pavilions, outdoor barbecue and lounge areas and, best of all, your very own plunge pool. This in addition to the main swimming complex located at the centre of the resort. Doors slide open to beautiful views over water-lily-filled lakes; lush tropical plants and colourful exotic flowers droop lusciously over pergolas; and plush day beds lie in wait after a day exploring nearby Port Douglas village.
It’s hard not to sound like a cliché – or a travel brochure – when you write about a place like Niramaya but the truth is, it really *is* as good as the pictures – better even; because when you’re there, you meet fellow travellers and a staff determined to make your stay as blissful as possible. It’s close to the heart of busy Port Douglas village yet just far enough away, and surrounded by tropical forest, so that it remains a peaceful retreat. I know I was sorry to have to leave. It didn’t fix my back incidentally, but it sure as heck made the pain easier to deal with. I’d go back in a flash.            

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