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The journey of Palm Cove’s first hotel into an award-winning adults-only wellness resort has been documented in The Reef House history book launched at the Tropical North Queensland beachside destination on October 11.

The Reef House Boutique Hotel and Spa hosted the family of past owners, key staff and local dignitaries at the event marking a rich history dating back to 1957 when successful Cairns bookmaker Stan Allwood purchased the land to build a family holiday home.

Directors of The Reef House Malcolm Bean and David Horbelt wanted to share the intriguing history of the property’s evolution into a tropical getaway for celebrities including Hollywood actors Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando, former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, and Budget Rent a Car Australia founder Bob Ansett.

“As the current custodians of The Reef House, we are committed to preserving not only the property, but the unique ambience and historic value of Palm Cove itself, which has grown and flourished around The Reef House,” the Directors wrote in the book.

The two hoteliers are passionate about the property which they bought in 2011, wanting to restore an Australian hospitality gem as they had done with prestigious Adelaide property Mount Lofty.

“We found tragedy when we first inspected The Reef House – she was a beautiful old lady left to deteriorate while the receivers tried to offload her,” Mr Horbelt said of his 2011 visit.

“We knew her reputation as the Raffles of Tropical North Queensland and that image brings so much affection for the property, so we knew she was a lasting asset.”

The pair undertook a multi-million-dollar refurbishment and as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the tourism industry, Malcolm Bean conceived the idea to create a unique value proposition – an adults-only boutique full-service 5-Star hotel with more than 21 complimentary Signature Inclusions.

“We are no longer in the business of providing a bed and meals, instead we have built a new category in the hotel space,” Mr Bean said.

“We have introduced Escape Planning Specialists to work with each guest to create their dream holiday, a Luxury Concierge to look after guests, a Pool Butler so guests can lounge by the pool all day, and complimentary activities from cocktail making to a Master Reef Guide talk on the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Reef House is a destination where people who want to be spoilt with the ultimate in customer service can relax and feel like a celebrity.

“This new formula where our management team meets each morning to discuss the customer experience, not revenue, is working with our occupancy up 10 per cent on our previous best year.

“Repeat business has grown to 25 per cent which is unheard of in the hotel industry and The Reef House is being recognised through customer review platforms like TripAdvisor where it was named the No.2 hotel in both Australia and the South Pacific this year.

“This book will be a gift for each of our customers who falls under the spell of The Reef House experience of rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.”

Visit reefhouse.com.au for more information.

Image - From left: The Reef House owners Malcolm Bean and David Horbelt with Colin and Yvonne Sevitt. Colin’s parents Ron and Val opened Palm Cove’s first hotel in 1969 when they transformed a holiday home into The Reef House.
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