Monday, July 1, 2013

HOTEL REVIEW - The Windmill Motel and Reception Centre - Mackay

The Windmill Motel and Reception Centre is one of Mackay’s more popular places to not only stay, but to also host conferences in their fantastic reception centre facilities.  In fact, my wife and I were married at the Windmill.  This review covers one of the four Penthouses in the Windmill’s Executive Apartments that are away from the main Motel facilities, on the opposite side of Highway Plaza on the Northern side of Mackay, near Greenfields / Mount Pleasant.

There are four Penthouses on the top of three levels of apartments in the stand-alone building.  The Penthouse is true luxury – very spacious – and fully appointed – as the photos below show.

There is a King-size bed, air-conditioning, massive wardrobe space, spa bath, double shower in the bathroom and full kitchen and laundry facilities.

The lounge/sitting area has a wide-screen TV, free Cable TV, DVD player and surround sound system.  There is also Wireless Internet throughout the whole complex.

There is a large outdoor veranda that overlooks the Windmill Motel.

Overall, there are 62 rooms of various standard at the Windmill, along with a restaurant and pool and outdoor entertaining facilities.  There is also a tennis court and fishing in the adjacent lake!

I have visited friends staying in one of the larger two-bedroom motel rooms, and by the look of it, the facilities and look of the room are comparable to the executive apartments.

Undercover car-parking is ample at the motel and for the executive apartments, although for the apartments, it is a bit squashy for those with larger vehicles.

My wife and I really enjoy getting away to the Windmill for a luxury weekend away from it all.  The Penthouse if truly luxurious, and the overall facilities at the Motel are thoroughly modern and professional, while being friendly and inviting.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

TRIP REPORT - Great Barrier Reef - Hardy Reef to Hamilton Island - HeliReef Whitsunday / Whitsunday Air Services / Hamilton Island Air - Eurocopter EC120B Colibri Helicopter - VH-YWY

After a lovely morning of snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef at a small section known as Hardy Reef, we were informed that our time on the Cruise Whitsunday purpose-built pontoon was about to come to an end, and we were to fly over the reef to Hamilton Island Airport on board one of Helireef Whitsunday / Hamilton Island Air (Whitsunday Air Services) helicopters.

I had spotted three choppers parked on their own nearby pontoon - a pair of Bell 206 Jetrangers - VH-VTO and VH-VTU - and a Eurocopter EC120B Colibri. These three choppers plus a couple of Robinson R44s had been providing 10 minute joy-flights over the reef earlier in the day.

We boarded the launch at the pontoon and headed for the Jetrangers. As we tied up briefly to their pontoon, we were informed to stay on board as we were heading back to Hamilton Island on board the EC120B along with one other couple.

This was probably a good thing as these Jetrangers looked to be able to carry as many as six paying passengers with some facing backwards !

We headed for our chopper - Eurocopter EC120B Colibri VH-YWY - and met the pilot who stored our bag in the Colibri’s rear cargo hold.

My wife and I were given the back seat. My loving wife suggested that I have the window seat as I take better photographs!!

As the chopper powered up and took off, our view for the next half hour or so became reality. The vast expanse of the Great Barrier Reef is phenomenal.

Soon, the pontoon that we had been on looked like a small blip on this massive pristine landscape.

We flew over heaps of coral and soon after, we were able to view the jewel of the Great Barrier Reef – Heart Reef.

After circling Heart Reef we headed toward Hamilton Island.

Out pilot – Craig – was able to give us guided commentary during the flight which was very informative and certainly well received by us all on board. 

Soon after, land came into view on the horizon as we approached the Whitsunday Island and yet more stunning highlights in the form of Hill Inlet and magnificent white sands of Whitehaven Beach.  

We over flew over Hill Inlet and then up the length of Whitehaven Beach heading South.  I even spotted a tourist boat and another chopper on visiting Whitehaven Beach!

We then headed towards Hamilton Island flying over some more beautiful scenery – gee the Whitsundays are a simply stunning!

Soon after, and after a couple of right- hand turns, we were on final for landing parallel to runway 32 at Hamo.  

We made our final approach and touched down on the HeliReef Whitsunday / Hamilton Island Air parking apron – next to the two Jetrangers that took off shortly before us!

The Hamilton Island Air apron had no less than five helicopters and a Cessna 208 Caravan (VH-WTY ) parked on the apron, while an couple more choppers could be seen inside their hangar.

Hamilton Island Airport is fairly small with a terminal building and apron with 3-4 parking gates. Most scheduled commercial services into Hamo - operated by Virgin Australia and Jetstar - usually arrive and depart in the morning, so an empty apron this afternoon was not a surprise!

We collected our bag and made our way outside and onto a courtesy buggy for a ride to the marina part of Hamilton Island to wait for your ferry boat back to the mainland. It was a nice touch to wrap up a lovely flight over one of the wonders of the world - the magnificent Great Barrier Reef!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

HOTEL REVIEW - Tropic Coast Motel - Mackay

The Tropic Coast Motel is one of those many motels in Mackay that are situated on the main Bruce Highway (Nebo Road) through the city.  It is located just 3km from the CBD and Mackay Airport.  

It is situated on the same block as - and in close proximity to - the Comfort Inn The Rose Motel (REVIEW) and the Best Western Reef Resort Motel (REVIEW).  Plane spotters will also appreciate that views of aircraft on short finals to Mackay Airport's Runway 14 can also be enjoyed!

In short, the Tropic Coast Motel is basically the lower cost and slightly lower quality motel than these other places.  My stay was during the busy weekday period - Mackay accommodation is certainly hard to find during most weekdays - but for the price and with a room available, it was certainly worthwhile staying here!

Tropic Coast Motel offers 34 spacious fully air conditioned ground floor rooms with a number of different styles and sizes of room, including family rooms, executive room, along with standard twin and triple share rooms.

All rooms feature free Austar pay-TV, direct dial telephones and tea and coffee making facilities. There is a restaurant which is open weekdays, and full continental or cooked breakfasts are also available. 

My standard twin-share room had part of the bathroom - the vanity basin - on the outside if the bathroom area which was a little odd to me!

There is a nice pool/spa as well as a shaded BBQ area for guest to relax and entertain, while children can play in the nearby sandpit, trampoline or play centre. 

On the whole though, the Tropic Coast Motel is not my first choice of accommodation in Mackay due to the comparably lower standard of room than nearby motels.  However, for the low price - which is appropriate for this standard of accommodation - the Tropic Coast Motel is a good choice.