12.07.2014

Rapidly Deteriorating Quality of Resort Ambience

The Heron Island experience is an excellent one provided you are snorkeling on the reef or walking on the beach looking for nesting female turtles, because these things are provided by nature for free and are largely devoid of undesirable human beings.

It is to be expected that a monopoly resort operation such as Heron Island would charge a premium for granting access to the coral reef on which it resides. The price is understandably steep to ensure a high calibre clientele. It would not be a place I could generally afford to go, but as one of the Marx brothers said, "I would not want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." This is not my club. I am a visitor, a guest, an outsider. I am sure I am not the only one here as a result of a rare opportunity, but many more of the people here are from another social class entirely...an undesirable one.

The weekend ushers in a deterioration in island conditions. We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and found the island sparsely populated with some decent folk. We had a solid day of fun activities.

On Friday afternoon, a new shipload of patrons arrived on the ferry. These were mostly weekend warriors and gushily romantic couples. The latter are not so bad. They keep to themselves, walking the beach hand in hand in sickly sweet touchy feeliness, most likely retiring early to their bed chambers for a night of unbridled lovemaking, perhaps with a bottle or two of wine. The weekend warriors aren't so bad either, but they are on a mission to accomplish as much as possible in a short time.

On Saturday, though, the families arrive. Fat parents and rambunctious kids. I overheard one kid mumble something about how Heron Island was "so boring." I'd smack a kid in the head for that. Twice. And some kids are hell bent on terrorizing the wildlife too.

So conditions have deteriorated here today (Saturday) and this was not helped by rainy gray weather and resort charlatanry. This place is understandably overpriced. Logistically speaking, I think they manage to keep prices remarkably reasonable for being on an island many miles from the mainland and having to manage the housing, feeding, watering, and waste management of as many as 200 humans. But they made a grievous error tonight. The only option for dinner at the resort restaurant tonight was a $65 AUS seafood buffet, with no a la carte options. The food at this place is not outstanding. It is average. $65 per person is a lot and definitely not worth it, even for "all you can eat." I am a connoisseur of all you can eat buffets and the whole point is economy. Plus, my parents are not huge eaters.

So my folks rejected the buffet in favor of the bar food option at about one third the cost. Bad form on the part of the restaurant in not offering a la carte options, because the food at the bar basically comes from the same kitchen and many of the bar menu items are on the restaurant menu. So something weird is going on there.

Adding insult to injury, a fat lady at the bar started gushing to us about how phenomenal the seafood buffet was and how many prawns she ate. You could tell she did not miss many meals.

Overall this is a three star (out of five) place. I cannot give them credit for the coral reef and sea turtle action (5/5 stars), because that is all nature's doing and they are just exploiting the real estate. But they do have decent room accommodations and the snorkeling equipment for use on the reef is high quality. Their laundry facility is, surprisingly, free. I would have expected them to charge for this as they do for most other things.

They use reverse osmosis desalinization to maintain the resort's water supply. Unfortunately, they chlorinate the crap out of it. I found that boiling the tap water in the electric tea pot each room has removes most of the chlorine aftertaste.

The staff are a bit sullen and unhelpful with some rare exceptions. They do the minimum requirements of their jobs, I suppose, but they don't relish it. I find that peculiar given they get to work in a tropical paradise. But minimum wage is minimum wage.

The exceptions were the naturalist activities staff. They were very friendly, informative, and helpful. I learned a ton from them and they really seem to enjoy their I don't know if the naturalist named Kate who I met while turtle combing the beach last night was resort staff or University of Queensland research staff, but she was fabulous and gave me tons of bonus turtle info.

I will be glad to leave here tomorrow. I have done about all there is to do here on the nature side of things. Sometimes more than once. I grow weary of the resort itself.

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