It was my husband’s birthday recently. On the one hand, he is trying to forget birthdays and on the other hand, I’m stressing out trying to find him that something special. But I’m married to the man who has everything. It’s not like he’s too hard to please, but other than a new Rolls Royce Wraith or a Breitling watch, gifts just don’t cut it for him, he honestly has everything. So these days, rather than trying to buy him a gift he will probably just return, I opt for a far better option, particularly considering how busy life seems to be. I DO something. Whether that be arrange an experience that we can do together, or like this year, a getaway, just the two of us.
Saying that, although a long holiday away somewhere far away would have been amazing, unfortunately we didn’t really have that much time to spare, so instead, we left the children and headed just down the road into Surfers Paradise for a sneaky getaway.
There are so many hotel and apartment options in Surfers Paradise, but I was keen to try the new Voco Hotel (formerly the Watermark). It’s the first of an innovative, upscale boutique concept for the Intercontinental Hotel Group, whom are one of my favourite hotel chains around the world. Very conveniently located walking distance from Cavill Avenue and the beach, across the road from Q1 and right next to a light rail stop, you can’t get much better location wise.
As far as the hotel fundamentals, it boasts two swimming pools, one on the East side and one on the West, optimising sun or shade options, a Day Spa plus great in house eating options from the trendy Social House near the entrance right up to the fine dining at Cliffords Grill. The hotel rooms are beautifully renovated, bright and modern, all at reasonable nightly rates. We were so happy with our choice. Even though the hotel is not absolute beach front, it’s just a short walk away and from our east facing room, we had nice views of the water.
The very name “Voco” comes from the Latin word meaning “invite” which is an appropriate term. From the valet staff on entry to reception and everyone in between, this is a warm and welcoming venue. The focus is definitely on “the journey” with each and every staff member a “host” willing to share stories and local knowledge. The Voco philosophy is to create a space for anyone, for any time of day, and they do this so well.
What really impressed me was the Voco strong focus on sustainability using recycling techniques from the kitchen to the recycled products used in the filing of doonas and pillows in the rooms. It’s definitely forward thinking and the way of the future.
Another really unique concept in this particular Voco hotel is the very cool onsite bee hive. Situated on the second floor is an unconfined hive is home to around 250,00 bees. With its own bee keeper and plenty of interesting stories. If you have the time, staff will tell you quirky tales such as battles of the Queen bees, mutiny and breakaway bee colonies. This bee colony supplies the hotel with its honey for their restaurants but you are also greeted on arrival with a daily honey treat such as shortbread from the kitchen. Such a cute little touch.
Being so central and with no children in tow, we did have a meander around the streets of Surfers Paradise, enjoyed a few of the local bars and generally just took in the city vibe. But when it came to dinner, although there are many great eateries on offer in town, we ended up choosing to eat the hotel’s Cliffords Bar and Grill for dinner. Firstly, let me say, I don’t usually rate hotel restaurants as anything special. They are generally average at best, however the concierge assured us that we needed to try the steaks at Cliffords, and as soon as he mentioned Bomb Alaska, we decided to give it a go.
WOW, what an incredible surprise. We started with the best scallops and pork belly I have ever eaten, the flavour was incredible. Followed by a shared plate 1kg steak sliced with accompaniments and finishing off with the Bomb Alaska. Trust me, even if you just visit for this experience alone, you won’t be disappointed. To top it off, we were seated by the open air alfresco windows watching the streets of Surfers and all the activity passing by.
Getting away in today’s modern busy world seems all too hard, so a vacation close to home is such a great alternative. Let’s face it, the Gold Coast has some of the best beaches in the world, so it really is like a holiday, even if only for a few nights. Finding this gem of a hotel in such a great location, with it’s quirky additions gives it something unique compared all the other standard options. Even though we only experienced a weekend, we will certainly be back in the not too distant future!