The Sheraton Grand Mirage Port Douglas is a sprawling tropical compound, where two hectares of salt water lagoon pools signal that swimming and relaxing is the top priority here. Built in 1988 by property baron-turned-fugitive Christopher Skase, the hallmarks of '80s excess are still scattered throughout the resort: there's plenty of green marble, bronze dolphin statues, a grand piano and the Mirage palm tree emblem, all add character and nod to its past. But recent renovations have also ushered the resort into the current era: well-kept pools are lined by private cabanas, on weekends sunset sessions take place with live music and Mediterranean inspired feasting platters and the Daintree Bar hosts rum tastings, a nod to the local sugarcane industry and burgeoning rum distilling scene nearby.
Restaurants like the new Lagoon House and its adjoining pool bar are also prime examples of this, plucking inspiration from across Asia to deliver a modern snackable feast. Betel leaves are ready to wrap up steamed barramundi with pops of finger lime and chilli; a charcoal hibachi grill renders coconut-imbued chicken smoky and moreish; and flash fried squid and curry leaves come doused in a buttery salted egg sauce. Pulling on her time in Malaysia and Bangkok, chef Belinda Tuckwell leads the open kitchen with finesse and fun.
Meanwhile at Harrisons, chef Spencer Patrick's split-level high-end restaurant you'll find interiors and ambience of old-style hotel dining. Interiors include statues, patterned carpet and potted palms. In contrast, dishes are sharp and contemporary. Prawn is pressed into charcoal bread for a jooshed up take on the yum cha staple; airy foie gras mousse is served with crumpets; and bright pickled mussels celebrate the ocean. Mains of tandoori-slicked Queensland painted lobster; or steak frites fire on all cylinders too. Those who prefer blue skies to chandeliers can enjoy the innovative fare out by the pool.
The tropical location is embedded throughout the lush resort grounds: trails of (edible) green ants; barramundi swimming in a lotus flower dotted waterfall; fist-sized fast-flying yellow bellied sunbirds; and majestic magenta ginger flowers are just some of the sights you'll see walking to and from your room. Rooms are well appointed and generous in size and many include a balconette with direct access to the lagoon pools.
Punters that are keen on the gram can also order up a floating breakfast, that nods back to the heyday of excess, which sees half a lobster and scrambled eggs enjoyed while relaxing in the pool, joined by fresh juices, tropical fruit and croissants. All these sights combined make it all the reason why the Sheraton Grand Mirage was on the itineraries of the likes of Bill Clinton and George Michael in the '80s, but also now on the calendar or talented chefs thanks to Taste of Port Douglas, the annual festival of flavour and fun held annually in August each year.
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas, 168-190 Port Douglas Rd, Port Douglas.