Vue Luxury Apartments, Trinity Beach, Queensland, Australia

Our reviews have convinced us that much of the travel industry is aware of the need to cater for a fast-ageing population. 

Some aspects of accessibility are being done better than others – and there’s a long way to go in many areas.

Realistically, ‘age-friendliness’ needs to be considered at the very design stage of facilities like airports, railway stations, ports, hotels, resorts, aircraft and ferry terminals.

But it’s pleasing to say that, from our experience, growing numbers of operators seem to be thinking about accessibility – and making genuine efforts to realistically service all ages.

Truly ‘Age-friendly’ accommodation

So, having said that, we are delighted to showcase one of the really good guys – accommodation that balances function, layout and looks to cater for the widest range of people possible. 

In 2018, the focus of our reviews is on our homeland of Australia.  And, in Far-North Queensland, we cast our eyes over the Vue Luxury Apartments at Trinity Beach.

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Photo courtesy Vue Luxury Apartments

The apartments overlook the beach with panoramic views of the Coral Sea, about 19 kilometres north of the city of Cairns.

Here’s our review:

Q: Was the booking process simple and problem free?

A: Yes. We had read other reviews of Vue Luxury Apartments, so we used several comparision websites to find the best price, then booked online with one of the sites. The process was straight-forward, flexible and easy, without booking fees.

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Q: Did Vue Luxury Apartments communicate after the booking?

A: Yes. We received an initial confirmation email – and two follow-up communications as our visit neared.

Vue Luxury Apartments also offered to arrange airport transfers and assist with booking Great Barrier Reef tours, if desired. 

As well, we closely followed Vue Luxury Apartments on Instagram.

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Q: Do Vue Luxury Apartments have street appeal? 

A: The stunning aspect is the most outstanding feature of the apartments. They overlook the Trinity Beach Esplanade and beachfront, with a tavern – serving lovely food – immediately below and shops, restaurants and bars alongside. 

The swimming beach is almost directly across the street. From all sides, the apartments look impressive.

 

Q: How did check-in go?

A: Seamlessly. We arrived slightly later in the day that expected, but the on-site managers waited for us. They were extremely friendly, helpful and highly professional in both appearance and manner.

The security process was explained; we were given directions to Apartment 213; electronic door cards, free wifi code, lift security pass and an automatic door-opener for the undercover garage.

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Q: How was accessibility, particularly for senior travellers.

A: We can’t speak highly enough about this aspect of Vue Luxury Apartments.  We drove directly into the secure garage through the automatically-opening door – and were given a dedicated parking place immediately alongside the lift. 

There were no stairs and it was a simple matter to wheel our luggage into the lift and go up one level. From there, an equally level, well-lit and undercover walkway took us about 10 metres to the door of our two-bedroom unit.

 

Again, there were no steps to enter – and the unit was easy to negotiate, with wide hallways that allowed bags to be wheeled with ease.  

The unit was well lit throughout and, as is sensible in the tropics, the floors were generally tiled. 

Bathrooms and showers were walk-in, without steps – and hand-basins were high enough on the wall for a wheelchair to move close, should it need to. 

 

Light switches and power-points were sensibly mid-height;  door handles opened with little effort; there were clothes hangers at mid-height in the wardrobes; a level access to the rear patio and a safety latch on the door leading directly to the infinity pool. 

Our unit overlooked the dazzling pool, with ramped access.

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Q: Were the bedrooms big enough?

A: There was plenty of space in each. The rooms contained a King-sized bed, individual lights; bedside drawers; a wide-screen television and built-in wardrobes,

 

There was also complimentary high speed wifi, tea and coffee-making facilities and individually controlled air conditioning and fans in all areas.

Q: Were the beds comfortable?

A: Extremely. The rooms seemed to be sound-proofed and we slept well.

Q: Were other facilities adequate?

A: The apartment was fully self-contained, with high quality European kitchen appliances.  These included a double-door Bosch freezer-refrigerator; touchscreen Bosch cooktop; Bosch combination wall oven and microwave; and Bosch dishwasher. 

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Photo courtesy Vue Luxury Apartments

The kitchen was fully equipped with cutlery and crockery, cooking pans, a toaster/sandwichmaker and electric kettle.

A wide range of teas and coffee was replaced daily, as the unit was serviced.

In the adjoining family room there was a wide-screen television complete with cable channels and a DVD player.

The laundry included a washing machine and clothes dryer.

There was adequate storage and cupboard room, as befits longer-stay apartments.

As well as the infinity pool and heated spa, it was possible to walk directly from our unit to spacious entertainment areas and B-B-Q’s overlooking the beautiful Coral Sea.  The sea views were amazing!

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Q: Did the apartment have adequate charging points?

A: Vue Luxury Apartments easily catered for our 14 electronic devices.  There were plenty of charging points, including some on either side of the bed, ideal for using mobile phones as alarm clocks.

Q: Were the bathrooms to the expected standard?

A:  Both the main bathroom and the walk-in en-suite were modern, fully tiled and fitted with luxury toiletries. There were adequate fluffy towels and hairdryers.

The ensuite bathroom also contained a full size spa bath.

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Although there were four people in our party, there was never any shortage of hot water.

During our stay, the apartment was serviced daily and we were also offered fresh linen, pool towels and bed sheets. 

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Q: Were there any problems with the apartments?

A: Just the opposite. Vue Luxury Apartments opened our eyes in many ways.

As well as being luxurious, modern, fully-equipped, spotlessly clean, extremely comfortable and secure, our apartment seemed genuinely ‘age-friendly’ (see the explanation below)

 

The approachable, helpful and highly professional attitude of the managers also made our stay at Vue Luxury Apartments all the more comfortable and memorable.

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Age Friendly rating

10/10:  This rating is a ‘first’ – and is not given lightly.

Based on this six-night experience, it is our opinion that the operators of Vue Luxury Apartments not only take accessibility seriously, but have tackled it in a whole range of practical ways – from the care given to catering for wheelchairs, to the central location at Trinity Beach adjoining a bus stop and the inclusive and intelligent apartment layout.

On-going communication with customers; the easily-navigated website; and strong social media presence all indicate to us an obvious management policy of providing accurate information and informed assistance.

We hope to return to Trinity Beach to write a more detailed review of these outstanding apartments.

Location: Vue Luxury Apartments are situated on the Trinity Beach Esplanade, Queensland, Australia. 

The nearest international airport is at nearby Cairns. This area is regularly used as a base for travellers visiting the Daintree rainforest, Great Barrier Reef and Atherton Tablelands.

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A dream continues deep in the woods

Love is a great foundation for grand plans.

An astonishing example of this can be found deep in the tropics of far north-eastern Australia.

There, sunlight filters down on a dream: a fairytale forest castle created more than 80 years ago by a Spaniard for his beloved. 

And, as we wandered through this unexpected delight, we quickly understood the romantic dream behind such an extroadinary creation.

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Jose Pedro Enrique Paronella was a romantic man – a dreamer in a harsh, no-nonsense land.

He arrived at Innisfail, Queensland, in 1913 and began work in the sugar industry while planning a special life with the fiancee he had left back in Catalonia.

It was while buying and selling cane farms that Jose discovered his dreamland – a beautiful tropical forest alongside the spectacular, cascading Mena Creek waterfall.

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Jose had never forgotten the grand castles of his boyhood land and the gem of an idea was taking root when he returned to his fiancee after 11 years. Finding that she had married another, he proposed to her younger sister, Margarita, and returned to Australia to buy his piece of forest paradise.

Their incredible dream was to build a castle. And they did – on 13 tropical acres a fantasyland gradually rose amid the tall trees, tangled vines, creepers and ferns.

Neither Jose nor Margarita were afraid of hard work. Their fingerprints in the concrete foundations remain as testament to their astonishing labour of love. 

No task, no matter how difficult, seemed to faze Jose.  Described as an ”engineer, architect, builder and everything else in one”, he threw himself into every challenge.

“People smile and say ‘Paronella, he is mad. To work so hard and to spend so much money this way! Why does he not sit down and rest’.  That is not my way”

Excerpt from ‘Spaniard’s Dream Realised’ – Brisbane Sunday Mail

The first section of the dream was a grand 47-step concrete staircase to shift building materials between the upper and lower levels of the site. 

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Gradually, the castle and its stunning surrounds took shape, including a grand ballroom and movie theatre designed to provide entertainment for the public.  

There were also tennis courts, tunnels, bridges, fountains, a museum; pavilion with turret-topped balconies, refreshment rooms and changing cubicles for swimmers.

All this was wrapped in an amazing area of gardens and more than 7,000 trees, including an avenue of Kauri pines that now tower like Cathedral spires.

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The backdrop of Mena Creek Falls  was used for North Queensland’s first hydro electric plant, providing power to the entire site – and a tunnel was burrowed through a hill to give access to minature waterfalls.

Despite setbacks, the dream of Paronella Park  continued – even after Jose’s death in 1948. 

In 1967,  Margarita passed away, leaving their son and daughter-in-law as custodians of the remarkable dream.

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Flood, fire and the area’s tropical cyclones also wreaked havoc on the castle and the vision was almost lost when new owners stepped in during the 1990’s and started a number of restoration projects, while carefully staying true to the park’s history.

Today, the site is officially listed as an important part of Australian heritage.

However, we defy first-time visitors not to catch their breath when they see the truly extroardinary sight of a Spanish castle partly hidden in a tropical forest in one of the most beautiful parts of our planet.

In this helter skelter world, the dream and the romance live on – and there’s something particularly reassuring about that.

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Paronella Park can be found at Mena Creek, Queensland, Australia, 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Cairns.

As explained on its website, visitors can take a 45-minute guided walk through the highlights of the park; try a self-guided botanical walk; or see the delights of the site by night, when the waterfalls are lit.

There is also a Paronella caravan and camping park; a suspension bridge above the Mena Falls; a museum in Jose’s cottage; an arts and crafts shop and a tea house that features scones and home-made tropical jam.

The park is also a stunning backdrop for weddings and other special occasions.

Far-North Queensland Romance travel