12 million + tourists can't be wrong... that's the somewhat staggering number that flock to one of Australia's most famous stretches of sand each year, drawn to the beaches, the surfing and the luxury hotels (the world's first Palazzo Versace opened here in 2000).
But somewhere along the way, Surfer's Paradise developed a reputation for being anything but. Whether your opinion of the Goldie is shaped by your own schoolies week, or seeing that of others on 60-minutes, it's time to give it a second chance (just leave the Smirnoff Double Blacks and Midori at home this time, okay?).
Why? Because 2016 is set to be the Gold Coast's year. It's already got a fabulously quirky QT Hotel (more on that below), and next year the radically revamped Pacific Fair is due to open, after the completion of a $670-million redevelopment. Once open, it will take its place as Australia's fourth largest shopping centre, with the highest concentration of luxury retailers of any shopping centre in the country. We told you the Goldie was on the up.
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Add to that a resort-like indoor/outdoor shopping and dining precinct with pool, tropical gardens and a one-hatted restaurant (plus multiple options for a much-needed glass of champagne), and Pacific Fair is sounding tempting enough to drag you away from the beach. Did we mention the brand new Event Cinemas with Dolby Atmos sound? That's there too.
Stay at the QT Gold Coast, perfectly positioned a block back from the beach, for a taste of what Surfer's Paradise was like in its heyday: think nostalgic beach chic meets Miami Vice. From the retro-style bikes on offer for all guests to get around to the complimentary fresh lemonade on arrival, it's a hotel that's big on the little details that make a holiday so memorable (and, ahem, Instagrammable).
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A must-try is QT's in-house spa, which offers a 'freshly picked' option - simply book your appointment and decide when you get there whether a facial, mani, massage or body polish floats your boat that day. Post pampering, kick back with a sundowner from the hotel's bar, Stingray, indulge in a Japanese feast at on-site teppanyaki restaurant Yamagen and trust us, you'll see what the GC fuss is all about.