For as long as anyone can remember, the Gold Coast has been pitched as the ideal family holiday spot – the beaches, the theme parks, affordable eating spots, the friendly atmosphere and relaxed, holiday vibe.
Indeed it is a rite of passage for any suburban family to take that road trip a couple of times while the kids are growing up; the ‘are we there yets’ ringing through your ears for much of the trip.
And indeed much of the Gold Coast’s accommodation is family based, making booking such a trip easy and generally hassle-free.
But in recent years, the Gold Coast has done a little growing up, and while it remains an ideal family getaway spot, it’s also turning into the perfect holiday for couples – with no kids in tow.
With our toddler happily spending a few days with her grandparents, my wife and I put this to the test – heading to the Gold Coast for three nights to see if a trip north can be fulfilling without the family focus.
And yes, there’s plenty of truth to this new feel about the Goldie.
We stayed at the five-star Imperial Hotel, and while it remains a child-friendly option, its slightly higher price range means it never feels like you’re in the middle of a play centre.
Even the pool has a dedicated adult’s only section – though it should be noted it’s something of an imaginary line and, understandably, isn’t overly policed.
There’s a varied selection of room types, and we stayed in a Superior Suite – the perfect option if one of you wants a sleep in while the other is an early riser and wants to get in some early morning TV in the other room.
It’s very spacious, with a spa bath included and two bathrooms; probably overkill for a couple but if you’re either looking for that extra bit of luxury or you do have one or two kids with you, it’s the perfect option.
The hotel boasts an Italian restaurant with a seafood buffet on Friday and Saturday nights, and the buffet breakfast was very impressive (something that can always be hit and miss) so it’s worth trying to include it in your package.
On our first night, we had the opportunity to take a sunset sail on the Gold Coast Broadwater with Sun Sailing – which boasts a 38ft yacht. It’s a calm trip, so those with weak stomachs need not worry, and this husband and wife team really hit the mark with the overall experience (plus, you get to say hello to their adorable dog, Wilson!).
It’s a great way to learn a little more about the Gold Coast, and while there’s a whole range of cruises available, the sunset cruise was absolutely delightful and a beautiful way to see the sun set. If you’re lucky, you may get the boat to yourself – but otherwise, it’ll just be a small group of fellow travellers.
You’ll sit back and enjoy cruising alongside the Gold Coast Spit, past the entrance to the Seaway, Porpoise Point on South Stradbroke Island and Wavebreak Island.
The Gold Coast has certainly upped its game in the restaurant stakes and my two standout recommendations would be Bonita Bonita – a cute little Mexican restaurant at Mermaid Beach that dishes up a chicken and chorizo quesadilla that is to die for – and Ladybird, an Asian fusion restaurant on Main Beach with delicious modern dishes and sensational cocktails.
Next on the list for us was a visit to La Luna Beach Club – where the cocktails are flowing, the music is pumping and the pool is sparkling.
You can reserve a spot by the pool, get yourself a day bed for a long stint or just enjoy a cocktail at one of the surrounding tables; it’s certainly a party vibe and you won’t be disappointed by the atmosphere.
It’s connected to Mare Restaurant, which has a seafood-dominated menu that features both small plates and full meals; and I can tell you the Wagyu Rump was a sensational choice, with some honey and black pepper glazed carrots on the side and some creamy mash potato to top it all off.
While the pool at La Luna was nothing short of sensational, we made a point of spending a pool day at the hotel as well – you can’t go past the relaxation of getting yourself a day bed and coming in and out of the water all day, with cocktail and food service right at your fingertips (the cocktails by the way are pretty darn good, which can be hit and miss at hotels).
The Gold Coast remains the ideal family holiday location, but it’s certainly become a wonderful destination for a couple’s getaway too – as long as you’re well planned and make your reservations in advance, given some of the above restaurants and experiences can fill up quickly.
Parts of this trip were facilitated by Destination Gold Coast.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Breaking News Reporter. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations. In 2023, he was named Editor of the Year at the Mumbrella Publish Awards.