The Gold Coast has had attention before for its facelifts – the evidence of that can be seen in the locals sporting the smooth and stretched façades of perpetual youth. But the facelift getting the most attention now is the one to the cityscape.
An increasingly sophisticated new Surfers Paradise has risen up from the old, bringing with it six-star accommodation, celebrity chefs and good coffee.
Where once a visit to the Gold Coast was all about the beach a modern urbanite today can take a short break at the seaside and not get their perfectly pedi’d toes even close to the sand. Yes, the Gold Coast is all grown up and the glitz of a Vegas-style tinseltown is being replaced with the glamour of the new Hilton, Sea Temple, Peppers on Broadbeach and the refined class of the Marriott and the Sheraton Mirage where spa treatments, high teas, degustation menus and pool parties are the order of the day.
On my last visit to the coast, I decided it was time to take a closer look at this sophisticated side of the glam new Gold Coast booked in to the Royal Suite at the Sheraton Mirage, one of two included in the hotel’s $20million facelift which has seen every one of its 293 rooms transformed.
The suite is, of course, the size of a large one bedroom apartment, tiled almost completely in blue marble. It’s hard not to have a Pretty Woman moment as you walk in, particularly to the king-size bedroom with its huge “Sweet Sleeper” bed (a design unique to Sheraton hotels) which looks so inviting you want to lie down immediately (I’m sure Sheraton wouldn’t like to think I was jumping on their bed like Julia Roberts!). And then there’s the mega ensuite with its view to the beach outside and a freestanding bath which just screams to be filled with bubbles while you pour a glass of champagne. It’s the dilemma we all dream to have – what will we do with the rest of the day or can we just stay here forever?
There is a bookshelf of quality classics and a choice of two very large-screen TVs to watch in the suite if the weather should turn inclement, but to see what the all-grown-up Gold Coast looks like I have to venture out and, armed with a bit of local knowledge and some directions, I go in search of some favoured haunts.
First it’s a good cup of coffee, discovered at Black Coffee Lyrics upstairs in the Centre Arcade on Surfers Paradise Boulevard near the new Hilton. Don’t be surprised if you walk past the arcade the first time around – even with directions I did.
It has a retro feel, filled with hotch potch furniture (most of it found on eBay), higgledy-piggledy bookshelves and board games. But it has a youthful vibe, courtesy of its 20-something owners, and the food is for a modern generation with vegetarian (even vegan) and gluten-free choices on the healthy menu.
There’s no doubt there are now plenty of good food choices on the coast, but for a special treat you can’t go past the High Tea at Pearls Bar, also part of the new look at the Sheraton Mirage. The presentation and quality of the food makes this an experience to linger over, almost until it’s time for cocktails.