I’ve just attended the largest annual Bloggers’ meet-up in Australia; the Problogger Event in Queensland. I know, lucky … but to tell you the truth it’s such a great event that I’d fight hell and high water to get there again next year too!
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Accommodation Surfers Paradise
For the second year in a row it was held at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast and this time I was really fortunate to be invited to stay at the Aztec inspired Mantra Sun City resort just a stone’s throw from the long, long stretch of beach, above.
But more of the hotel and its features a little later in this post, because first, people often ask me: “But what’s the Gold Coast really like? Should I go for a holiday in Surfers Paradise or not?”
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Well, you know, Yes! If you come prepared for some pretty modern, but also quite daunting high rise buildings stretched like concrete monoliths along a beautiful curve of coastline, and if you want sun, sand, surf, nightlife action, cafes and Casual with a capital C.
Paradise is a beach
This area of the Gold Coast has the most wonderful name, a name that conjures up … well, Paradise, and since the early 60’s the stretch of beach and hinterland on the coast of Queensland has by all accounts grown and grown – outwards and upwards – like Utopia on steroids.
It’s a juxtaposition of sorts because as I look out of my hotel window I can see a crane, a building site, one small apartment blog and some zooty high-rise hotels all backed by an impossibly blue stretch of sea with wild surf, topped today with a big almost cloudless cerulean sky.
Love it or hate it, but you can’t ignore it
You’re either going to love it, or hate it here … but having said that this is my second visit to Surfers for the annual Problogger Conference, and I have to admit that something within me is changing, and the spirit of the place is wheedling its way under my skin, because last year I wasn’t so fond of this ‘Paradise’ at all.
It’s touted as an amazing combination of fun family activities and natural wonders with great surf beaches, a picturesque hinterland and thrilling theme parks nearby.
There’s a delightful promenade walk – a dappled ramble, used by walkers, skateboarders, cyclists and mothers with prams which hugs the coastline all the way along the main drag.
Watching the world go by
At Cavill Mall today I sat al-fresco drinking a Starbucks coffee. A colourful parrot sat in a coconut palm tree oblivious to me imbibing caffeine. And there are the surfers heading down to the surf … of course.
To the other side a street busker sang opera: “No time to say goodbye,” he warbled rather well, while next door to Starbucks came the dulcet sounds of jazz and a moody saxophone.
It’s the back-drop though to Surfer’s which makes me a little uneasy. The cacophony of white noise, where you know you’ll find all manner of loud and rumbustuous partying come the midnight hour.
In the daytime that noise actually consists of people walking, breathing, doing and talking mixed in with air conditioners, traffic behind the mall, and the omnipresent roar of the waves just metres away up the drag.
Across the precinct is a store called Sunburn where I’ve just bought a swimsuit (I didn’t need) and a hat (I lusted after, but yep … didn’t need), and some suntan cream because I’m not going to get sunburnt on this sunny stretch of glitz and glamour coastline.
Along the promenade are Surfers’ infamous life surf huts, canary yellow outposts at strategic points. On the exterior of rest-room walls are posters depicting life how it once was on this iconic stretch of beach; it depicts the late 50s and 60s idea of ‘holiday’ – beach, sand and surfboards, well rounded bikini clad girls, oh and easy adjacent parking to the beach.
There are old cars in the picture, vintage now, but there were no tall buildings in those days – seems hard to imagine somehow. Who’d have thought Surfers already has a history?
And of course its history relates back always to being a Surfers’ paradise. Easy, casual, surf and sea. No worries mate.
The nightclubs, the blue canals and millionaire pads, the cloud tickling sky-rise buildings, dappled promenade and the lure of high adrenalin adventure theme parks that keep the punters coming back to this town have all been masterminded to fit the scene later.
Foot Locker, Hogs Breath Café, Rip Curl,Soul, City Beach, Australian souvenirs, Busker and oh, 120 specialty shops in one mall alone, along with more well known chains and brands – even the signage is busy, brash and bold from where I’m sitting.
However, the table is battered. It’s seen better days, and you realize that Surfers is battle worn, but if the atmosphere of Surfers Paradise has been tarnished by common knowledge or perhaps Chinese whispers, the reality is different. It is a great place for a beach holiday with restaurants lining the prom, and everything is a stone’s throw to the sand and waves and excitement.
Here you get the feeling that you can be who you want to be, step out from your mundane and be bright, bold, garish and just focus on fun if you want to. Re-gather your Mojo. Enjoy Casual with a capital C and drink a cocktail or two.
“I can’t help falling in love with you,” croons the busker emulating Elvis Presley … and I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe I can’t help falling in love with Surfers Paradise too.
The Mantra Sun City
Perhaps my sense of well-being has been induced by this lovely hotel. If I return again, this is the place I’ll want to return to. And perhaps the Mantra Sun City is part of the reason I’ve discovered a soft spot for Surfers Paradise?
The hotel of course reminds me of another Sun City, in South Africa near Johannesburg where epic architecture mimics Harrison Ford and Temple of Doom type adventures in a fantastical and glamorous setting.
The Mantra Sun City in Surfers is also like a Palace with opulent décor. It has an Aztec-inspired feel – think statues of Pharoahs, gleaming tiled floors, huge clay urns, Titian colours and floor length windows in the lounge and bar areas all leading out onto cool blue water.
What I liked
- There’s a 35 metre saltwater lagoon pool with sand and a dragon waterslide for kids. There are palm trees giving it a tropical feel, and two restaurants.
- The lounge area of the hotel feels opulent and is surrounded on two sides by water – very calming and photogenic.
- Choice of two restaurants; Fables and The Koastal Kitchen which had tasty and inexpensive special weekday deals when I was visiting. Think dinner (Butter curry chicken and popadoms) for $12 and a buffet breakfast for $18 – yes, maybe not in season prices, but competitive for this time of year (late August).
- The suites are carpeted – this feels really nice on feet, even on hot summer days, don’t you think?
- The floor length windows in the suite give magnificent views and outlook but had sun black-out curtains and ac’s for hot days. (Book the penthouse for the most incredible views).
- I love that the suites are spacious and decorated with leather loungers, and other fine furnishings – not tat.
- The kitchen area is roomy and well equipped.
- I liked having a laundry room with washing machine and dryer for our convenience.
Mantra Sun City is close to Surfers Paradise Beach and a few minutes walk from the shopping hub of Cavill Avenue.
- Yes, there’s a fitness room, games room, indoor pool and spa, tennis courts, restaurant, café and bar, and 24 hour reception and the rooms have large flat screen TVs and all that jazz.
- The tram stops right out the front of the hotel.
- There’s a business hub in the lounge area where you can access the internet (timed) and a printer if you need to print out documents.
What I didn’t like
You have to pay for internet connectivity in the rooms.
Disclaimer: Two nights of my stay at the Mantra Sun City were complimentary.