Wanted to give a quick review! We just got back from the most amazing trip EVER last night. We had some time restrictions due to work, among other things, so we kept to the GBR/Queensland area.
Sofitel Central Brisbane: 1 night. Booked deluxe room, but upgraded to Club Room! Gorgeous views of downtown and awesome location within the city. The train station is under the hotel. One oddity: the upgrade to the club room did not include club access. It just was a view upgrade.
Heron Island: 3 nights. Accessed Heron via helicopter. Def the way to go! Amazing views on the 30 minute trip. Heron is a gorgeous island for nature. Take advantage of the free walks and discussions given by the naturalists. Asha, one of the naturalists, did an awesome job with the island walk, research station tour, bird watching, and star gazing. The diving here is supposed to be phenomenal, but we're just snorkelers! During August, definitely rent or bring a longsuit. The water is only around 68. It gets quite chilly at night too- bring long pants and sweaters. We booked the beachside suite and loved having direct beach access. Heron is not by any means a luxury resort, though. Very minimalist and the food was not so great. I knew this going in, but wanted a place to unwind before the wedding!
Wilson Island: 4 nights. Accessible only by boat from Heron. Small resort with luxury tents- only 6! It's all inclusive, but it kind of has to be since it's so remote. The resort at most only had 3 other couples besides ourselves and that was only for 2 nights. We stayed in Isolation, which is closest to the beach and furthest from the main longhouse and washroom. Perfect for those who want to be removed, but who cna stand being so far from the bathroom. I wouldn't have minded so much if it wasn't so chilly at night! It actually was not a big deal, though, but would stay in Rapture upon return. The resort dining is communal, but we loved it. For our actual wedding night, they set up a private dinner in a community tent. It was breathtaking! The food was out of this world the entire stay. There are only two gas grills on the island and typically a set menu, but I am quite picky, and the chef went above and beyond to meet my dietary needs. I did not go hungry at all! BTW- there are only two staff on the island and they are AWESOME!!! The rooms, bathrooms, showers were always clean and the staff was always bending over backwards for you. The wedding on the island was just a dream come true. It is not for a bridezilla, as the weather and the seas can dictate when the photographer and celebrant may arrive. Our ceremony was set for 2pm, but I think we actually got married sometime after 3pm. I was totally 100% okay with that and the day itself was so stress free. Everything included in the wedding package- cake, flowers (fake, BTW since it's a national park), the celebrant, etc- was perfect. Our photographer was also phenomenal. Really no complaints here about anything, except that maybe it was a touch cold at night and when sleeping in a tent with no heater, you need to just be prepared
Oh, and don't go here if you don't like wildlife. The island is a magnet for birds and they are LOUD at night. The hotel gives ear plugs, whichi definitely help. However, if you don't like being surrounded by birds, or don't want to see them swarm the island during sunset cocktails, then this is not the place for you.
Novotel Brisbane. 1 night. So, the boat that transfers people from Wilson to Heron broke down a day before we were due to leave. The part had to come from the mainland, so we were literally last second leaving the island due to this. We missed our boat transfer back, but Wilson upgraded us to a helicopter. We got back to Gladstone and had missed our flight to Brisbane (which was to connect to Cairns) by 20 minutes. No worries- the Wilson team put us up at the Novotel Brisbane, which is just 5 minutes from the airport. The team also arranged to have our flights changed, at no cost, and we got into Cairns in plenty of time for our next flight the following day. We were to have spent the night at the Hilton Cairns, so I just called and canceled that with no issues. The Novotel is a new, modern, hotel that seemingly caters to the business crowd. Only nit- the shuttle to the hotel was not free, but we are to be reiumbursed for the taxi!
Lizard Island- 4 nights. WOW! What a fantastic place. True paradise and luxury. It requires an hour flight from Cairns on a very small plane, which is somewhat expensive, but the views are awesome. We booked a sunset point villa, which overlooks sunset beach and, of course, the sunset. We stayed in the furthest villa on the block, which is actually two rooms per villa. The villas are simple, but well appointed and spacious. Lizard includes all meals, most drinks, and the minibar in the room, which is super nice, but also makes sense given the very steep price tag. The food was outstanding and the chef went out of his way to make sure my needs were met. He met with us to ensure it. The staff was like family (same with Wilson, too!) and they knew us by name the second we stepped foot onto the island. While on Lizard, we did a hike with the naturalist to Cook's Lookout, which is about 1200 ft up. The views were unreal. It was an open activity, but hardly anyone does it, so we had the naturalist all to ourselves. We also did a half day snorkel excursion in addition to the fabulous beach snorkeling. A little pricey, but it is the great barrier reef
Well worth it, IMO. We did enjoy a massage at the spa, too. Everything was just so wonderful that I can't even describe it, other than saying we'll be back next year!
Hilton Cairns- 1 night. We needed a night in Cairns because of transit. The Hilton has a nice location in the heart of everything, but the town is far from low key. Kind of touristy and loud. Okay for one night, though. The hotel upgraded us to a spa room, which I am not quite sure what that means, other than we had some great views again.
EDIT: adding flight info! We flew Air New Zealand to take advtange of their sky couch offering. It's 3 seats that have leg rests come up to form a couch/bed. It's about $1000+ more than two typical coach seats (price depends on the airfare rate). I did happen to sleep, but it is super cramped and small for two adults. I thought about upgrading to premium economy, but the seats don't really recline. a business class upgrade was around $2K/person, but to be honest, I wish I had taken it! Not so much for my comfort, but for my DH and to have avoided a very loud cabin.
Let me know if you have any questions!