About Gold Coast
People tend to go to Gold Coast for two main reasons: Surfers Paradise and theme parks. Sure, I get the hype about one of the world’s most talked-about beach and rides that threaten to detach your soul from your body - thrill-seekers and revellers will thrive here.
As someone terrified of roller coasters and craving a little R&R, Gold Coast would naturally not be my first choice. However, after going on a 4D3N trip to Gold Coast kindly hosted by Accor, I can now safely say I have come up with a few decent alternatives for those craving a sedentary holiday in this popular tourist destination.
Fellow adrenaline-averse friends have no fear, your alternative Gold Coast guide is here!
- Gold Coast Attractions -
Fret not, fellow thrill-ride avoiders. Gold Coast has its share of more serene activities! Its many protected waterways offer calm waters suitable for activities like stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or for just having a dip. If you ever tire of water activities however, here are some other options you may wish to check out.
1. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
This extensive wildlife park features some of Australia’s most-loved animals including the dingo, wombat, Tasmanian devil and a massive crocodile with a history of devouring some of the local farmers’ prized cattle. The park is staffed mainly by volunteers with a handful of full-timers.
All proceeds raised in the park go toward the on-site animal hospital and general maintenance of the sanctuary. You can even choose to donate the park via the purchase of a paver (tile) for AU$60 on which you can have your name engraved and planted on the path leading up to the animal hospital! Click here to find out more.
Address: 28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin QLD 4223, Australia
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 8am to 5pm
Telephone: +61 7 5534 1226
Budget: $$$ (approximately AU$49 per adult per day)
2. The Golf School at Mercure Gold Coast Resort
I must say I was not excited at the idea of playing golf. The only golf I ever played in my life was as a four year-old with my set of plastic golf clubs. Lee from Mercure’s The Golf School at Palm Meadows Driving Range was the perfect teacher for an amateur like myself. We were taught the right stance, how to grip our golf clubs in the proper manner and how to use our bodies to execute the perfect swing.
I honestly thought I was going to be bored but I really enjoyed myself! I didn’t come out of the golf clinic a pro but at least I won’t embarrass myself at the driving range now.
Address: Gooding Drive, Carrara QLD 4221, Australia
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 6am to 7pm.
Telephone: +61 7 5594 2450
Budget: $$$ (approximately AU$69 for 18 holes on weekdays)
3. Marina Mirage
This upmarket shopping centre also boasts a small farmer’s market in the atrium on Saturdays from 7am to 11am, where you can buy fresh produce and other items like jams and jerky. Be warned though, clothes here don’t come cheap - while I loved the dresses at Carla Zampatti (2nd floor), they were way beyond my budget.
Situated just by the waterfront, men can leave the women to the shops while they enjoy the scenery or coffee with their mates. Providore (mentioned above) is also located within Marina Mirage.
Address: 74 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach QLD 4217, Australia
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 10am to 6pm
Telephone: +61 7 5555 6400
Budget: $-$$$ (items at the farmer’s market are cheap but expensive at retail stores)
- Gold Coast Food -
Like its cafe-saturated cousin Melbourne, Gold Coast has its fair share of good food places if you know where to look. What I love about the food was how the chefs used locally-sourced ingredients and exercised integrity in the way they were prepared (i.e. by relying on the natural flavours of the ingredients). The outcome of such effort is good, honest food that truly celebrates the quality of Australian produce.
Sofitel’s own restaurant and cocktail bar Room81 prides itself on producing modern, innovative dishes. Room81 is one of only a handful of restaurants in Gold Coast to receive a Chef Hat. We tried a little degustation menu with an exciting chocolate dome dessert that we had to break apart to get at the sorbet and other goodies inside.
Room81 also recently welcomed a new Chef de Cuisine - UK Chef Sam Moore has worked in a number of notable restaurants including Greg Doyle’s Pier in Sydney and No35 at Sofitel Melbourne On Collins. Each dish was a play on the senses and full of surprises.
Address: 81 Surf Parade, Broadbeach QLD 4218, Australia
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 4pm until late
Telephone: +61 7 5592 2250
Budget: $$$$ (approximately AU$100++ for a tasting menu)
2. The Fishhouse
This is one of the most honest restaurants I have ever had the privilege of dining in. Don’t be fooled by the bare, rustic presentation of these dishes - the food is presented this way for a reason. The seafood really is the hero of each dish, allowing patrons to enjoy the sweetness, moistness and flakiness of their choice fish without any other distractions.
Portion sizes are extremely generous, making the steeper than usual price tags worth the money. Mains are served with complimentary sides of green salad and roasted potatoes. The restaurant also overlooks the beach just across the road, providing prime views and premium food.
Address: 50 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220, Australia
Opening Hours: 7 days - lunch & dinner
Telephone: +61 7 5535 7725
Budget: $$$ (approximately AU$50 for mains)
This modern deli style eatery offers a wide range of breads, salads and fresh foods from as early as 7pm. If nothing on the menu catches your fancy in particular you can head on to the produce section to make your own salad or create your own juice. My favourite was the Providore board with its dizzying variety of breads, dips, cheeses and ham. Well worth the money and perfect for sharing!
Address: Shop 37, Marina Mirage Shopping Centre, SeaWorld Drive, Main Beach QLD 4217, Australia
Opening Hours: 7 days a week, 7am to 6pm
Telephone: +61 7 5532 9390
Budget: $$ (approximately AU$20 for mains)
- Gold Coast Accommodation -
Gold Coast offers a variety of both budget and luxury-style accommodation. Party-goers and night owls would prefer to stay in Surfers Paradise where most of the action is, while families and couples can opt to stay at Broadbeach, the new up-and-coming indie district of the region.
Beaches and shops are less crowded yet it still boasts a healthy night scene for those looking to spend a night out.
1. Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach
We were kindly hosted at Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach and what a weekend it was! I got a room on the 21st floor (the second highest level) that gave me beautiful views of Broadbeach and the surrounding streets. A fruit basket and a lovely chocolate display greeted me on arrival complete with a handwritten note by Amery Burleigh, the General Manager of Sofitel herself.
Our stay came with daily breakfasts on the fourth level where staff addressed us by name -- the personal touch Sofitel is so famous for. Australian supermarket chain Woolworth’s is located in the shopping centre next to the hotel itself and you will never run out of dining and shopping options with the abundance of shops around the area.
The most unforgettable aspect of the room would have to be the Sofitel MyBed. With a reputation as a ‘floating cloud’, one needs no more convincing on how comfortable this bed was. Guests have the option of a King sized bed or two double beds.
Room81 is also located at Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach.
Address: 81 Surf Parade, Broadbeach QLD 4218, Australia
Telephone: +61 7 5592 2250
Budget: Approximately AU$260 per night
2. Mercure Gold Coast Resort
While we didn’t stay at this hotel, we did get a chance to explore the grounds when we attended our golf clinic at The Golf School, a mere 5-10 min walk away. Unlike Sofitel, Mercure channels more of a family resort vibe with its casual, modern decor.
Chelos Restaurant & Bar in the lobby was recently renovated barely a month ago, and the facilities look well-maintained. Mercure is situated close to the Carrara markets and Robina Town Centre, a popular shopping destination.
Address: Palm Meadows Drive, Carrara QLD 4211, Australia
Telephone: +61 7 5555 7700
Budget: Approximately AU$120 per night
Why you should head over to the Gold Coast
This trip changed my perspective about what Gold Coast had to offer. The people here were among the friendliest people I’ve met in Australia and often went out of their way to accommodate us. The growing food and cafe scene in Gold Coast is also something to look out for and it would be interesting to see how the region can bring its own local flavour into this already bustling industry.
I’d love to have had more time chilling by the beach or doing some activities in the secluded waterways, but this probably means I’ll just have to go back to the Gold Coast again sometime in the very very near future. Thank you Accor for hosting us!
This post was brought to you by Accor.