Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa Review 2020
The Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa Broome is an incredible 5-star sun-drenched oasis set on one of Australia's most beautiful beaches. Cable Beach Club is the perfect escape for couples looking for an indulgent retreat or for families wanting to relax and unwind. This iconic resort is the icing on the cake of your Kimberley adventure. What follows is an account of five nights and six days of lazing by the pool, walking on the beach, breathtaking sunsets and many, many wonderful dinners & cocktails.
Getting to The Resort
To get to the Resort, we (me, my wife and young daughter) first had to get to Broome. Broome is 2500km north of Perth, which is either a solid three-day drive or a two and a half hour plane ride—we went with the plane option. We caught the Virgin Australia 7:25 am flight which got us into Broome at 10:00 am. The 7:25 am departure time meant a very uncivilised start, but it was well worth it to be able to enjoy the whole of our first day at the Resort. To help ease the pain of being up before the birds, I took advantage of one of the perks of my American Express Platinum Business Card (review available), and we headed into the Virgin Business Class Lounge (review available) for breakfast and most importantly a cup of coffee. Caffeine levels topped up and daughter fed, we headed to the gate.
Our plane was a Fokker 100, which is basically a baby 737, and while this was a Virgin Australia flight, it was outwardly branded as Skywest. Once onboard, however, the interior, crew and service were pure Virgin Australia. One pleasantly uneventful flight later and we touched down at Broome International Airport. Did you read correctly? An International Airport in a town of 16,000? You did. As of this year, Broome is taking direct flights from Singapore as part of its push to increase international tourism.
Having left Perth on a grim winter's morning, stepping out onto the tarmac under a cloudless blue sky with the temperature in the mid-twenties made us immediately feel like we were on holiday. The weather for the week was incredible; the coldest it got was 15 degrees, and it never reached more than 32. Being the dry season, not a drop of rain fell, and with humidity in the low teens even at its hottest, it was a comfortable dry heat. The Cable Beach shuttle bus picked us up for the 10-minute drive to the Resort and on our way Les gave us a rundown of the Resort's history. Initially the brainchild of Lord Alistair McAlpine, who famously wrote the contract for the multimillion-dollar resort on the back of a beer coaster at the local pub. The Resort, now 30 years old, was purchased at the end of its first decade by the Perth based Hawaiian Pty Ltd, which has since continued to invest and develop the Resort while staying true to Lord McAlpine's original vision. Les also explained how Broome was founded on buttons, as before the invention of plastic, buttons were made from mother-of-pearl. Back in the 1880s, pearl luggers plied the rich waters of Roebuck Bay in their hundreds, harvesting the World's largest oyster for this sought after material.
As we pulled up to the front entrance to the Resort, a couple of things immediately jumped out at me. Firstly is the Resort's colour scheme, bright red & green, which struck me as a bold choice. However, we were to learn that these colours have historical significance, as they were the colours that the pearl luggers used to be painted, and the original settlers would use the leftover paint to decorate their houses. As such, red and green became the colours of Broome. The other thing I noticed was the Resort's Asian influence that starts at the front doors, flanked as they are by lifesize terracotta warriors. This Asian influence runs throughout the Resort's architecture and artwork and was the inspiration of Lord McAlpine, who was a keen collector of Asian art.
We were warmly greeted by reception and told that while our room would not be ready till 3 o'clock, we were very welcome to use the Resorts facilities. Having rummaged through our bags for our swimmers, we then made use of the private changing rooms before heading off to explore. The private changing rooms are a great feature of the Resort as it means no matter what time you get in or what time you are leaving, you can freshen up. However, before I start telling you about the fantastic pools, restaurants, bars, beach... I might just jump ahead and tell you about the accommodation. There is a wide range of accommodation to choose from at the Resort, from apartments, studios, bungalows to the super exclusive villas and suites.
Finding Our Bungalow
For our visit, we had opted for a bungalow; we felt the extra cost over a room was worth it. As with separate bedrooms, it meant that, when Bub went down, we would not find ourselves tiptoeing around in the dark, and with a kitchenette, we would be able to cook some basic meals. This extravagance turned out to be an inspired decision as the bungalow proved perfect for a young family, and I can not recommend them enough if you are thinking of taking children along.
The Resort's grounds are immaculate, and the accommodation sits harmoniously within a Shangri-la of established gardens and lily-covered ponds. The Resort is verdant and green as it benefits from daily reticulation fed from the Broome aquifer: a subterranean lake that provides the town with over 5,000,000,000 litres a year. Once our room was ready, the first challenge we had was to find it. Armed with the keys and a trusty map, we went in search of Bungalow 125.
You would think that selling maps I would not have too much trouble using one–my wife will tell you otherwise. On the Resort Map above the bungalows are the little orange boxes, and as you can see, there are quite a few of them, and they are all interconnected by a multitude of curving pathways that all look very similar. There is a trick, however, to navigating the Resort.
It lies in the Asian stone horses that sit on the crossroads of the pathways. These are the three-foot-high statues that Lord McAlpine had installed throughout the Resort that all point towards reception. Once I had grasped this navigational constant, getting around became much easier.
As it turned out, our bungalow was exceptionally well situated; not too far away from the main recreation area that centres around the Family Pool, and practically next door to the spa, meditation room and gym.
I should explain that there are five different bungalow types to choose from, and we had settled on the Pearler Bungalow, which is the one up from basic, sleeping 5 and coming with a bath. While our bungalow was specifically called the Pearler, all the bungalows take their design inspiration from the traditional pearling master's quarters: hardwood floors, corrugated iron walls and of course the green & red paintwork. Here is a floor plan of our bungalow to give you an idea of the layout.
As we walked in, there was a dining table with seating for six and a kitchenette around the corner. To the right was the living room with a large six-seater L shaped leather couch that faced onto a well-positioned 42-inch flat-screen TV. The bedroom with three single beds continues to wrap around the back with the bathroom at the end, while in the centre of the bungalow is the master suite.
As we stepped into the bungalow, the first thing I noticed was how cool it was, thanks to the three split system air conditioners and ceiling fans in every room. The ceiling fans really added to the charm of the rooms as they made me think of the tropics and provided a gentle swooshing noise whenever they were on. Our bungalow was very light as there were windows running the full way along three sides of the building that gave uninterrupted views out onto the gardens. At certain times of the day, depending on where the sun was, they in fact provided too much light. This was not a problem though, as every window has a thick blackout roller blind.
The white ceilings raked upwards, which gave a lovely sense of space and height. It also meant that the fans were not right above your head. The dark hardwood floors that ran throughout all the living areas and bedrooms gave the place a warm feel and were very comfortable underfoot. Being set in the gardens, every one of the room's windows had a beautiful outlook, but the absolute highlight for my wife and I was when our daughter woke up to see a family of wallabies under her window.
The Resort has done an excellent job with the positioning of the bungalows as from inside as you look out there is a sense of space while at no time did I feel we were being overlooked. The full-sized bath in the second bathroom was handy for washing the sand and chlorine off of Bub at the end of the day and was a useful addition.
My favourite design feature of the bungalow has to be the master suite. The room has two sets of double doors with frosted glass windows that open outwards, giving access to the front living area and the back bedroom, which when open imbue the whole building with a sense of flow. However, when closed, the doors have excellent wooden shutters which act better than any block out curtains, guaranteeing that no light gets in no matter the time of day. Also, by being centrally positioned and completely enclosed, if the kids want to get up early and start their day making use of their bathroom, the living room and the kitchenette, then Mum & Dad can continue to sleep in total darkness–pure genius.
The king-sized bed is exceptionally comfortable, and the pillow selection is good; not once did I wake up with a sore neck. Hanging in the room is an identical flat-screen TV to the one in the living room, so there was no problem with the picture size or the viewing angle. The entertainment was very good with a wide range of free on-demand movies to choose from. While I am mentioning the in-room entertainment, I should also let you know that the guest WIFI is pretty good but can be intermittent; I found myself using 4G when I could get it.
Between the two large drawers underneath the luggage rack, the hanging robe and a couple of side tables, there was plenty of room to unpack. The master suite's ensuite was a good size and was impeccably cleaned daily. Housekeeping made their rounds early afternoon, which was good as we were usually out at that time of day and not getting under their feet. I should also say that housekeeping were very generous with the provision of the L'Occitane toiletries; we received almost a new set daily and went home with quite the collection–excellent news for our next house guests.
There is a very strong L'Occitane theme running throughout the Resort, there is a separate shop in the main foyer entirely given over to their products, and the Chahoya Spa & Salon uses L'Occitane for their treatments. I personally like L'Occitane; their products have a quality feel and are not overly sweet.
As we had anticipated, the kitchenette proved to be extremely handy. The full-sized fridge meant that we could fit bottles of wine, milk, cheese, fruit, yogurt... everything we needed for breakfast and the occasional sandwich, without having to stack it as if we were playing Tetris. There was more than enough glassware and flatware provided, and as the kitchen came with a small dishwasher, we never ran short on plates or glasses. The microwave came in useful for heating porridge or making hot milo, and the kettle was good for tea or coffee. It is very easy to gather provisions as the Resort runs a 10:30 am bus into Broome where there is a large Coles at the Paspaley Plaza. The return bus picks up at 2:30 pm, but we just caught one of the taxis out the front of the Plaza.
All in all, we were delighted with the Bungalow. It provided lots of space to spread out, the furniture was comfortable, it was incredibly peaceful with lovely views, and most importantly, it was immaculately cleaned every day. The only fault I could find was that there were no fluffy bathrobes provided, which, to be perfectly honest, upset my wife more than it did me.
Off to the Pool
As far as families are concerned, the centrally located Family Pool is the natural place towards which to gravitate. Parents can relax on the wonderfully comfortable day beds while the kids can play in the stunning pool. The pool has been well designed so that the deeper uncovered end is perfect for floating, while the shallower kids-friendly end is well shaded.
While chilling out by the family pool, we were looked after by the excellent staff from the Kichi Kichi bar and restaurant. There is table service to anywhere poolside; throughout the day the team will come and ask if there is anything you would like; otherwise, you can always head up to the bar to place your order.
Their all-day menu has a South-East Asian flavour to it, with the standouts for me being the soba noodles and the satay chicken skews with roti and peanut sauce. The kids were, for the most part, happy polishing of baskets of hot chips, cheese toasties and fish & chips. Below are the soba noodles with an excellent frozen mango daiquiri.
To drink, there is a good selection of mocktails, cocktails, beers and wines, though it is safe to say that the favourite drink around the pool was the virgin coconut. The coconut, while not cheap at $15 a nut, provided a drink, something tasty to eat and an entertaining diversion—scooping out the flesh took me at least 20 minutes of happy digging.
The best part of the Family Pool is that kids (being kids), as soon as they see other children, swiftly lose all interest in Mummy & Daddy and head off to make friends or just stare at each other. So, apart from lifeguard duty, it is very relaxing for the parents. As there is also a dedicated adult-only pool at the Resort, it is safe to assume that any adults who do choose to spend time at the Family Pool know what they are getting in for, so there is not that nagging worry that your child is unduly disturbing the peace and enjoyment of others.
The Family Pool area had a laid-back vibe to it with; beautiful water features, private cabanas and chilled out tunes playing throughout the day. We loved the Family Pool, and it was pretty much how we would start all our days at the Resort.
Wait, but there's more
The Family Pool is not the only drawcard at what I would call either the central entertainment complex or kid's paradise. There is also a kids' playground, a waterpark, a mini-golf course, tennis courts and table tennis. Which means that once the little ones have lost interest in chasing each other around the pool, there is a whole range of different activities for them to enjoy.
My daughter would play in a waterpark until hypothermia set in and whenever we go to our local one it is packed, so I think it is safe to say that they are popular with kids. The one at Cable Beach Club is fantastic, there are fountains, showers, tipping buckets and cannons, and unlike the public ones that turn off after a while and you have to go and find a button to turn them back on, the one at Cable Beach never turns off (well maybe after 10 pm but I did not check). The waterpark was a huge attraction for the kids— particularly the ones who had just changed out of their swimmers and into dry clothes.
The playground was also unsurprisingly a hit, its design a good compromise between giving the younger ones something to do while being challenging enough to interest the older ones. The playground is located just behind the day cabanas, so if you are lucky enough to snag one, then you can easily keep an eye on the playground while stretching out on a day bed. Both the waterpark and playground are built on soft rubber squishy flooring, which prevented injury and most importantly was not sand. I hate sandy playgrounds—the amount of sand that a toddler can keep in their shoes beggars belief.
If relaxing beside the pool ever gets tiring (incredulous disbelief), or more likely your children are looking to do something with you, then Mini Golf is an excellent option. The nine-hole course, while not going to win any prizes for originality, is lots of fun. There is a selection of putters to choose from, and whenever we went, there were scorecards, pens and balls available. My daughter insisted on ticking off the holes as we went rather than scoring shots, which I discovered is a much better way of playing.
For those of you who have to be doing something—I know the type, I have family members like you—then there are two full-sized astroturf tennis courts in excellent condition and a table tennis table under the games pavilion. In the above picture, you can see a single-story building with a corrugated tin roof—that is the gym.
Now while I may have implied that I would much rather laze by the pool than pick up a tennis racquet, I have yet to tell you about the decadent dinners, and I find guilt to be quite the motivator. Also, our Bungalow's proximity to the gym meant, by necessity, I passed it a couple of times a day; a physical manifestation of Jimminy Cricket. So each day I made my way to the gym to mitigate some of the damage of living well.
The gym is spacious and exceptionally well equipped, with treadmills, bikes, cross-fit trainers and rowing machines. There is also a full complement of weights and weight machines for the truly motivated. The quality of the equipment is excellent; I particularly liked that the gym had the latest Concept II rowing machines.
The gym is airconditioned and kept at a very comfortable temperature; there was water readily available from a dispenser and a cupboard full of fresh towels. A thoughtful touch was the provision of disinfectant wipes to wipe down the equipment after use. The room itself was light and airy with a high ceiling, and the view out over the tennis court through full-length french windows was engaging. Compared to some gyms at 5-star hotels, this is up to there with the best I have visited in terms of equipment, feel and cleanliness. If you suffer from the urge to sweat off an evening of overindulgence, then the gym is well worth a visit, though the way I look at it is if I go to the gym during the day then I have at least earnt my first drink of the evening.
The Adults Only Pool
For those of you visiting the Resort without young children, then the adults-only Ocean Pool provides a haven of peace and tranquillity. Surrounded by shaded sunbeds and loungers, this lagoon-style pool is the perfect place to spend some quality time with a good book.
Apart from banning anyone under the age of 18, the rules for the Ocean Pool also discourage disruptive behaviour by the adult guests, as mobile phones are to be kept on silent and jumping and diving are not permitted. At both the Family and Ocean Pools, there is a strict no BYO alcohol rule, and there is no point in trying to reserve a choice sunbed by leaving your bag on one as it will simply be removed for safekeeping behind the bar.
The Ocean Pool has its own bar and shaded alfresco dining area, perfect for a light lunch and a cold glass of wine. The only caveat I should make about the Ocean Pool is that, as it is quieter than the Family Pool, the local wildlife also finds it more appealing, so you will want to keep an eye out for sunbathing reptiles.
The Chichetti Club
On our first night, we dined at the Chichetti Club, the Resort's Italian restaurant. The Chichetti Club is located in the main building next to reception and is easily identifiable by its beautiful illuminated frangipani trees and stunning wax draped candelabras.
The Chichetti has a strong Balinese feel thanks to the carved hardwood chairs and the intricate woodcarvings on the ceilings. The Asian birdcages hanging from the ceiling are absolutely charming and are from Lord McAlpine's collection, as are the striking paintings by Sir Sidney Nolan. The overall feel is warm and inviting but with a sense of style and occasion.
For dinner, we both ordered the Cygnet Bay pearl meat & prawn tortellini with scallops, lemon, dill and apple, which went perfectly with the M3 Shaw & Smith Chardonnay. This was the first time we had tried pearl meat, and I am not sure what proportion of pearl meat there was to prawn, but I can simply say that this was the best tortellini I have ever tasted. The beautiful creamy seafood flavours were perfectly balanced against the acidity of the lemon, and the apple gave it just a touch of sweetness. The sauce was wonderfully rich and complex, and the pasta perfectly cooked–Masterchef has really helped to improve how I describe food, previously everything used to be tasty or bad.
For dessert, we went with the tiramisu as no Italian dinner is complete without one, as well as the mandatory limoncello and espresso. I can safely say that you will not be disappointed by either lunch or dinner at the Chichetti Club, where both the food and service are excellent.
Zensai is the Resort's premier Japanese restaurant and is the one you will want to book early, as reservations are hard to come by. I have to give special thanks to Sue Thom, the Resort's wonderful guest relations manager, who helped me get a table at short notice. While at the Resort if you spot an immaculately turned out lady in white with a white hat, then that is more than likely to be Sue. Sue is incredible, not only will she will go over and beyond to make your stay memorable, but she can also tell you stories of Lord McAlpine and the early days of the Resort. So, thanks to Sue, we were all set for dinner at Zensai on Saturday night.
You can feel the Japanese inspiration as soon as you step into Zensai, from the simple but elegant furnishings to the floor to ceiling use of wood. There is a real beauty in the clean lines and quality finish to the wooden floors, window frames and ceiling. The restaurant has a warm, intimate feel and enjoys tranquil views out over a beautiful water garden.
Zensai offers two dining options; one is to choose dishes off of the à la carte menu; otherwise, we can opt for either the 5 or 6-course degustation menus. Thinking that six is better than five we choose the 6-course menu, only to find that we will still be required to make a raft of decisions as to what to order, as each course has at least four options. Before I got too confused, however, the waiter came to the rescue and let us know that, if we would like, they will just bring us their recommendations—music to my ears.
I am not going to try to identify all of the dishes that arrived at the table, but I can assure you the everyone was beautiful in its presentation and delicious in its eating. The seafood dishes were clean and fresh, while the meat ones were full of flavour and perfectly cooked. The pace at which the plates arrived was just what you would hope, time enough enjoy each dish but very little waiting in between courses.
I will, however, give a special mention of the best green tea ice cream I have ever eaten. Not too sweet, a strong but refined flavour of green tea, and not too creamy–just incredibly refreshing. If you are dining at Zensai, I would definitely recommend it; we paired it with the black sesame ice cream, which was a good choice as my wife likes her ice cream a little sweeter.
Zensai is well worth putting in the effort of booking early as, for me, it was one of the highlights of our stay. I enjoy Japanese but tend to have a limited repertoire of Katsu chicken, or spicy tuna rolls dipped in wasabi. To be able to experience new dishes that have been lovingly prepared using only the finest ingredients was a real treat.
The Kichi Kichi restaurant is located next to the Family Pool and is a perfect choice for a relaxed family dinner. We could sit back with a cold drink and peruse the menu, while our daughter ran off and enjoyed playing on the illuminated playground with her new friends that she had met at the pool earlier on in the day.
Kichi Kichi specialises in South-East Asian cuisine, and it does it exceptionally well. For our dinner, we started with some mouth-watering soft shell crab with kimchi to share and then for our mains I went with the Lamb Masaman, and my wife went with one of her favourites, the Pad Thai.
For Bub, we ordered the special fried rice, and we tried her on some Pad Thai with mixed success. Fortunately, vanilla ice cream with a strawberry topping was the order of the day for dessert, and she practically inhaled that. Mum and Dad were slightly more restrained, as I took a little longer to drink my affogato with Baileys (but not much).
In fact, dropping into Kichi Kichi at the end of the night for takeaway ice cream became a regular way for us to end our evenings; the staff were extremely kind, always making a fuss of Bub and remembering that her order must include the strawberry sauce.
So if you are looking for some casual but delicious dining, then Kichi Kichi is the go. It is, without doubt, the most kid-friendly restaurant at the Resort and the food is terrific. I still have happy flashbacks to the soft shell crab, and the view out over the pool is pretty awesome.
The Sunset Bar and Grill
Well the name pretty much sums up this restaurant, it is all about the sunset, and in Broome, they are remarkable. I could write endlessly about how stunning the sunsets are, but I think it is just much easier to show you. On our last night, we made an early dinner booking for 6 pm, but the restaurant invited us to come down early at 5:30 pm so that we could enjoy the show.
The Sunset Bar and Grill is where everyone tends to congregate at the end of the day. The bar starts to get busy from 5 pm onwards, and they do a roaring trade in beers and cocktails. There is even a counter which serves espresso martinis and sangria on tap. The cocktails are excellent and are served pretty quickly, considering how busy the bar gets, and they are very happy to make whatever you like. I am pretty sure these are a Mojito and Lychee Martini.
The restaurant takes full advantage of its view out over the Indian Ocean and is tiered over two levels so that guests have a great view from wherever they are seated. The atmosphere is relaxed, and children are very welcome.
The Restaurant specialises in WA-sourced meat and fresh locally caught seafood. For our starter, we went with the Shark Bay scallops, creamed cauliflowers, and pangratatto. The scallops were perfectly cooked, and the creamed cauliflower was very smooth. If I could find any fault with the dish, it was that a couple more scallops on the plate would not have gone amiss.
For our mains, we went with the Margaret River Eye Fillet with bearnaise sauce, with sides of mac & cheese with brioche crumbs and truffle oil and some steamed vegetables. At this stage, you must be thinking my wife and I only order the same things; that is partially true, as I often suffer from food envy when we do not. However, in this instance, I would normally have ordered Rib Eye on the Bone as I like my steak fattier with more flavour, but at $75 I was not going to spend that much on a steak at a restaurant I had never tried before.
The steaks were perfectly cooked medium rare and were excellent examples of fillet steaks–I should have gone with the rib eye. The mac n cheese was rich and creamy, the pasta not overcooked and the amount of truffle oil just enough to flavour without overpowering. The steamed vegetables were cooked al dente and came with a tasty hazelnut sauce.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at the Sunset Bar & Grill, with the meal coming a very close second to the stunning views. Even if you are not staying at the resort, I highly recommend getting down to the bar to enjoy a drink and the sunset. The bar also often has live music during the week, which only adds to the incredible ambience.
There is, of course, the Chahoya Day Spa to visit; though we did not get the chance on this trip, it is definitely on our things to do on our next visit. If you're looking to get out and explore, there are guest bicycles as well as a whole host of activities around Broome to enjoy: helicopter flights, camel rides, a crocodile park, day trips to falls & gorges and touring a pearl farm. We went on the tour of the Willie Creek Pearl Farm and it was brilliant. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I have written a separate review about it as there is quite a lot to say, Willie Creek Pearl Farm Tour Review.
All of these activities can be arranged from the tour desk in reception where Josie will be more than happy to make suggestions and help organise your itinerary. Be sure to have a look at the striking Kimberley Map on the front counter—there are no prizes for guessing where it came from.
And of course, there is the beach right on the Resort's doorstep. Starting the day with a walk on Cable Beach with a takeaway coffee from the Sunset Bar has got to be up there with one of the better ones.
Should you go?
Well, that is officially the longest review I have ever written, and it goes to show that if you enjoy something, then it feels easy, and I have certainly enjoyed telling you about our time at Cable Beach Club. It was a wonderful family getaway that lived up to and exceeded all our expectations. The Resort is incredible; the accommodation, the facilities, the food and drink are all world-class. The staff are warm and friendly and extremely professional. I have no hesitation in recommending the Cable Beach Club Resort & Spa to anyone looking to enjoy the spectacular Kimberley region of Western Australia, or who just want to lounge by a pool and be pampered.
As always, you are very welcome to ask any questions you might have in the comments section below, and I will make sure to answer them.
Also, it is well worth checking out the Resort's website as they often have special offers that are worth looking into. Currently, they have 20% off in September and a $30 Spa voucher.
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