Golden oldie shines anew

ROOM AT THE INN

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

THERE’S been a rev­o­lu­tion afoot at Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Re­sort & Spa Gold Coast — a de­sign re­nais­sance, that is, aimed at trans­form­ing a 1980s prop­erty that had lost its shine.

In its hey­day, this 295-room re­sort sprawled across 3.4ha was, much like its Port Dou­glas sib­ling, all about glit­tery trim­mings, plush car­pets, Ital­ianate stat­ues, ver­i­ta­ble quar­ries of pink mar­ble and faux-em­pire fur­ni­ture.

If the orig­i­nal de­vel­op­ers, Christo­pher and Pixie Skase, had any eye for de­sign, it ap­pears they were look­ing to­wards mi­nor palaces in Naples.

What a dif­fer­ence a new owner with deep pock­ets and a few decades can make — now, thanks to a re­cent $26 mil­lion over­haul, here’s a stream­lined, de­sign-savvy re­sort that’s in tune with our con­tem­po­rary ex­pec­ta­tions about vo­lu­mi­nous and airy spa­ces, pared-back de­tails and an ap­pro­pri­ate sense of place.

First there is the sit­ting- pretty lo­ca­tion at the north­ern end of Main Beach, and the surfy-salty views. There is a seam­less flow-through of sparkling light and re­flec­tive sur­faces, from the porte-cochere off Seaworld Drive to the ex­pan­sive lobby to the la­goon pool and sea be­yond.

The colour pal­ette in the pub­lic ar­eas is bright white and sandy beige; there are groovy Ital­ian arm­chairs and bendy floor lamps that loom like sci-fi crea­tures. In the style of ho­tel-meets­gallery, boldly colour­ful can­vases by David Brom­ley, in­clud­ing many of his sig­na­ture fe­male nudes, are for sale.

The re­sort is big enough for guests to re­quire a map to lo­cate their room — mine is such a long walk through seem- in­gly end­less cor­ri­dors that I won­der if the re­cep­tion­ist should have handed me a com­pass and hand­ful of bread­crumbs to leave a trail.

But this tilt at an ori­en­teer­ing badge seems worth it to ar­rive at an over­sized room with wide-open­ing win­dows over­look­ing the South Beach­side Lawn and the prom­ise of the Pa­cific along a sandy path. The beach end of the la­goon pool and the Oa­sis Pool Bar are close, too, and I soon dis­cover a gar­den de­tour via walk­ways back to the main fa­cil­i­ties.

Even if not stay­ing here, it’s worth drop­ping by for a drink or a meal just to see what the Gold Coast can do when it re­ally turns it on. Pearls Bar, for in­stance, is a beauty, with clev­erly de­fined and cur­tained nooks and a choice of tall bench ta­bles with barstools or comfy lounge set­tings; go for colour­ful cock­tails, ta­pas plates or civilised high teas. Ter­races, the all-day diner, has a killer out­look over the la­goon cour­tesy of high win­dow-walls; the chic stone buf­fet ta­bles trans­form from break­fast hubs to seafood ex­trav­a­gan­zas for din­ner seven nights a week and the quan­ti­ties are un­stint­ing.

And the req­ui­site spa? For­get any no­tion of a few mas­sage rooms and a bit of old whale-call­ing mu­sic. Here you have the Golden Door Spa & Health Club, as in­te­grated a fa­cil­ity as you could imag­ine.

The treat­ment menu cov­ers eight pages and all I find that ap­proaches the Gold Coast of old is a Com­plete Bronzed Body tan promised to last five to eight days or un­til the next medal­lion pol­ish. Su­san Kurosawa was a guest of Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Re­sort & Spa Gold Coast. Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Re­sort & Spa Gold Coast, 71 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach; (07) 5577 0000; sher­a­ton­mi­rage­gold­coast.com.au; gold­en­door.com.au. Rooms from $213 a night if booked 30 days ahead; pack­ages in­clude dis­counts of 20 per cent if you stay a min­i­mum of two nights and pay by Master­Card (valid to March 31). Di­rect pool ac­cess from La­goon cat­e­gory rooms. About 26km from Coolan­gatta air­port; Gold Coast Shut­tle from air­port (in­cludes drops at other ho­tels) is $21 a per­son ($11 chil­dren un­der 13). Cou­ples, fam­i­lies; busy dur­ing school hol­i­days. Yes, flat en­try, el­e­va­tors and two spe­cially equipped rooms. Concierge can as­sist with bike hire ($30 a day); there’s about 40km of flat beach­side cy­cling be­tween The Spit and Burleigh; Ma­rina Mi­rage shop­ping cen­tre is op­po­site the re­sort and ac­cessed by a foot­bridge. Slow-mov­ing queues to be seated for break­fast at Ter­races dur­ing my weekend stay and buf­fet dishes not re­plen­ished quickly enough. The Gold Coast’s largest gue­stroom cat­e­gories, from 43sq m to 185sq m(Royal Suite); a makeover that has truly trans­formed this once-tired re­sort.

The bright white lobby of the re­vamped Sher­a­ton Mi­rage Re­sort & Spa Gold Coast; left, the royal suite

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