At first glance, it’s easy to be bedazzled by the simple, yet luxurious features of Crystalbrook Collections’ $130-million Riley Resort.
There’s the 1000 square metre sparkling swimming pool, suites with giant bathtubs and ocean-facing beds, the aroma of Asia inside Paper Crane restaurant and 130-odd staff members crisply kitted out in brand new uniforms.
But scratch the surface and it’s clear that Cairns’ newest resort breaks the mould of the average hotel.
The differences are evident from the moment guests walk through the door to find they don’t have to line up at a reception desk to check in.
“This is a hotel that welcomes guests, it doesn’t check them in,” said general manager, Joel Gordon.
Instead, reception staff wander the lobby area with hand-held devices.
Group Director of Hotels Geoff York said it’s an innovation taken from the retail communications industry, such as Apple stores, where cash registers are becoming a thing of the past.
“As you walk through the door and you’re a guest, they’ll come up to you,” he said.
We want to break down this barrier that you had to go up to a desk.”
Once guests are checked in, their room’s air conditioning is automatically switched on and their language is set on the television and iPad.
The iPad replaces the usual hotel compendium.
As well as providing information about the hotel’s facilities, guests can make restaurant or day spa bookings, browse menus, order room service and contact housekeeping.
Group Director of Marketing Katie Malone said via the smart TV, there is also access to hundreds of complimentary movies and box sets.
“We get them the same time as the big airlines because we’ve gone through the same company they do.”
“We are also one of the first hotels to get Staycast by Google Chromecast, which means you can stream video direct from accounts such as Netflix and Stan,” she said.
The technology is part of Crystalbrook Collection’s pledge to offer environmentally responsible luxury.
Guests will be hard-pressed to find any plastic in the building.
Even keycards to enter rooms are made from recycled wood, while coat hangers have been fashioned from recycled cardboard and water comes in recyclable cartons.
Plus, all of Riley’s soap, shampoo and conditioner is delivered via refillable bulk pump packs, instead of tiny disposable bottles.
“By using the bulk pumps we save 250-thousand bottles a year, just at this hotel,” said Cystalbrook Collection’s CEO Mark Davie.
“At the end of the day we’re not saving money out of it but it’s just a more responsible approach.”
As well as cutting down on waste, Riley is energy-efficient.
Its roof is covered in solar panels and when it comes to feeding guests, 85% of produce is sourced from within a three-hour drive of Cairns.
That includes Crystalbrook’s own beef brand, bred and reared at Crystalbrook Station, near Almaden west of Cairns.
“We’re the only hotel in the world that invests in its own beef,” said Mr Davie.
“And we know our cows are being looked after.”
The beds have now been slept in for the first time, after Riley officially opened yesterday.
Mr Davie described it as a momentous occasion.
“It’s fantastic to finally welcome our first guests and to see everybody enjoying the resort,” he said.
The hotel has 311 rooms as well as conference facilities.
When it’s fully operational on the 20th December, there’ll be a total of three restaurants, a rooftop bar, day spa and gym.
Riley is the first of four hotels in the Crystalbrook Collection far north portfolio.
Construction on Bailey in Abbott Street in Cairns is scheduled to be completed in mid-2019, which will be followed six months later by Flynn, which is located on the Cairns Esplanade.
In Port Douglas, Harper, which overlooks the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, is scheduled to open in 2021.