The French Riviera meets Queensland’s Sunshine Coast as the Sofitel Noosa introduces exclusive poolside cabanas.
It stands to reason that the brash and greedy ’80s – that overbearing decade of hard excess and soft salmon pinks – is a tough period to extinguish. So when it came to updating the mid-town, mid-rise Noosa hotel that locals had dubbed “the pink palace”, designers must have wondered if there was enough contemporary paint in the world to smother that flamingo-coloured edifice and move the establishment into the now. There was – and it has. A $10 million makeover in 2013 transformed what had become a gauche reminder of another time into a subtle Hastings Street showpiece. So much so French that brand Sofitel caught the keys from outgoing Sheraton and continued to improve the landmark property – most recently with the addition of five exclusive poolside cabanas for hire by hotel guests only.
The Cabanas Noosa, a ringside suite of private five-star spaces that feature butler service and a cavalcade of spoil-yourself options, are available by the day or half day for up to four people. They’re billed as a celebration of Sofitel’s French Riviera connections and are as sumptuous as they are glamorous. There’s still some minor finessing to do at the Sofitel Noosa but all the signs suggest that a sense of style and good management will triumph over a time that taste forgot.
There’s plenty of space in room 248 with an upstairs/downstairs configuration that breaks the area into intimate and comfy living and sleeping zones. It’s billed as a Pool Villa and a large balcony off the bedroom overlooks the Sofitel’s meandering lagoon, Water’s Edge swim-up bar and the Sofitel-slippered toes of guests lounging in their cabanas. A sprawling king bed rules upstairs alongside a huge, well-appointed bathroom while below a conventionally configured living area holds a two-seater sofa and small dining table. A well-stocked minibar lurks nearby. There’s pool access from the room but regrettably you can’t lock the room behind you as you go so lock up and go the longer way. It’s a quirk that will no doubt be sorted as management continues nipping and tucking.
Number of guestrooms: 176. A collection of Superior Rooms (55 square metres) configured with either double or king beds with views of Noosa village, the pool, Noosa River or the ocean. Luxury Rooms (50-60 square metres) have a living area and balcony with a private spa. Suites run from Junior (75 square metres) and grow in scale and appointments through Prestige, Opera and Signature (95 square metres), the latter with views across Laguna Bay.
Check in/out: 3pm/noon
Food and drink: Sofitel continued Sheraton’s pre-existing arrangement with celebrity chef Peter Kuravita and it’s not hard to see why. Kuravita’s Sri Lankan heritage and fresh local produce are both on show at the crisp, bustling and fragrant Noosa Beach House Restaurant, which is open for breakfast and dinner. If snapper curry’s not your thing, try the spanner crab but whatever you decide, you’ll need to book ahead. The Noosa Beach House Bar is a casual outpost overlooking the toing-and-froing of Noosa’s high-end Hastings Street. The Riviera Bar & Lounge is a more intimate cocktail space overlooking Noosa River.
Wellness: The Aqua Day Spa is open seven days, 10am to 6pm. There are eight treatment rooms and a steam room and the spa offers a wide range of massages and beauty treatments.
Business facilities: Seven meeting rooms. Sofitel Noosa bills its ballroom as one of them along with more discreet spaces like Laguna 1, 2 and 3, which can also expand into one large room. There’s a specialist team to help configure layouts and technical requirements.
Wi-fi: Free for Le Club AccorHotels members. Non-members pay $20 for 24 hours, $35 for three days, $48 for five days and $60 for seven days.
Minibar: Mumm (NV) Champagne 375ml ($42), Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc 375ml ($15) and Red Claw Pinot Noir 375ml ($20), spirits and mixers ($11 & $4), Evian and Badoit still and sparkling ($4 & $6)
TV and movies: 38 TV and seven music channels + Movielink (pay on-demand).
Water: Complimentary bottled water.
Pillow menu: Yes – feather, foam and memory foam.
Bath: Large spa bath.
Bathrobe: White cotton waffle-weave.
Amenities: Hermès shampoo, conditioner and body lotion.
Room service test: A bucket of ice for chilling champagne is delivered in eight minutes.
Parking: Yes. $25 per day, $35 for valet.
Housekeeping test: A firm, memory foam pillow ordered at 1.05pm was delivered at 1.36.
Concierge test: As the Noosa River snakes past the back door, we sought some fishing tips. Turns out our concierge had been up at dawn chasing flathead and whiting before his day on the desk commenced. He not only dispensed tips but also offered the use of his own gear. Apparently local anglers favour Davo’s Tackle World (Mary Street, Noosaville).
Price: Hotel rooms start from $349 per night. Cabanas cost an additional $175 for a full day or $125 for half a day.
Ask for: A top-floor Signature Suite with views across Laguna Bay.
Verdict: Cool as a cabana.
SEE ALSO: 10 Noosa Restaurants You Need to Visit