This could blow your hat off
What an evening it would be if all the inspirations for the cocktail list at this Gold Coast hotel’s funky bar and grill suddenly appeared in a haze of absinthe. Hold on to your hats and turn off your politically correct Geiger counter. Here comes “God”, aka Keith Williams, the tough-talking developer going gooeyeyed at his beloved dogs as he sips a spiced rum and blackberry marmalade-infused Black Schnauzer. Paula Stafford is propping up the bar in a bikini, drinking a Stafford’s Punch, while the leathery-skinned Al Baldwin downs a couple of Spray Tan Mans – a cheeky almond-infused Bacardi with fresh mint, lime juice and Grand Marnier.
There’s the champagne and coconut Kitty’s Fizz, named after the bordello of the 1800s, and a Bombay Rock, the blend of white rum, crème de cacao and cognac capable of blowing your head off in as metaphorical a way as INXS, Divinyls and the Radiators blew the roof off of the classic Gold Coast rock venue in the ’80s.
As you sit at Clifford’s Grill & Lounge, reminiscing, there’s no denying how much the Coast has changed. On the doorstep of the Watermark Hotel is a terminal for the revolutionary light rail that runs from Southport to Broadbeach. In front of that is Q1, with its the SkyPoint Observation Deck on Level 77 to take in the panorama.
The Watermark, too, has undergone a transformation with the high-ceilinged, open-air dining revamp at street level a perfect place for people-watching. And eating. Try the beef cheeks with roasted garlic skordalia and the sea bass sliders.
When the last Wanda 74 (named after the cyclone of that year which brutalised the coast) is sucked dry, we wander through the Walrus Social House, a chic bar area with eclectic furnishings that has live music on weekends when it’s open until 2am. Then it’s back to our deluxe executive room ( left) on the 20th floor, with king bed, bathrobes and slippers, pay TV, movies and free wi-fi, but no balcony. It’s also fairly soundproof. After an afternoon kip, we awake to see sodden streets and hoardings lying on the road. A storm has whipped through the coastal strip but we’ve slumbered through, oblivious. The cocktails probably helped.
The next day, we clear our heads with an early dip in the Pacific, just a short walk from the hotel. Tense muscles are expertly teased out back at the hotel’s L’Aqua Spa before heading to one of two pools in the complex to indulge in a spa bath.