Weekend away: Sea World Resort and Water Park

THE SETTING

The Spit has become a popular getaway for Queenslanders. Main Beach has surf, and the Sea World Resort and Water Park backs conveniently onto the calm side of the inlet. Being attached to a theme park is a distinct advantage, particularly for families.

THE SPACE

Inside the resort, there’s a water park for children and a free-form pool with Spongebob theme. There’s also a well-kept modern gym, day spa, and a kids club. Most people are there to explore what Sea World theme park has to offer, but one bonus of staying in a resort environment is the ability to put the feet up at the end of a long day, soaking up some piano music in the lounge.  

THE KIT

The resort has been given a multi-million-dollar facelift. Timber-style floors make it feel tropical, which is something which always goes down well on a holiday. Family rooms have two queen-size beds, and there’s a small balcony. The flat-screen television is in a classy frame, and the book rack underneath is a nice touch. There’s a large mirror which covers the wall separating the bed and bath which creates a feeling of space. Don’t, however, get a shock when you wake up looking at yourself in the morning. Bathrooms are basic with a basin, toilet, and shower over the bath. Management says they’re next on the renovation list.

COMFORT FACTOR

In the room, there’s everything you’d want in a resort – desk, cupboard, plenty of drawers, large television, and small couch. Yet, while room comfort is important, it’s not the prime reason most people come. Rates outside school holiday periods are reasonable and can include theme park entry. Avoid queues with resort-only access, and dodge crowds with resort-exclusive entry into the first dolphin training session. Word among locals is that a stay/play package is almost the same price as the entry tickets alone. 

FOOD

The expectation levels of teppanyaki are usually similar to a theatre restaurant – it’s all about the performance, and the food’s a bonus. Hatsuhana Japanese Restaurant at Sea World Resort is different. Manager Hideyo Yonezawa and his team have developed a grill menu which takes the Japanese barbecue to a new level. Sure, there are some of the theatrics teppanyaki chefs are known for; the utensil-twirling, food-catching, tall-flaming moves still abound. But the food is focus, as you’ll see from the careful preparation of sauces, and the outstanding finale of pancake dessert, chocolate sauce, fresh cream and banana flambéed in cinnamon. Shoreline restaurant is a buffet option and remains popular with families. It’s also where a wide range of breakfast options include freshly-cooked omelette, fruit and the normal hot-food fare.    

WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR

Warner Brothers Theme Parks has Sea World, Movie World and Wet ‘n Wild in their portfolio. If you’re visiting the resort, it’s well worth grabbing a VIP pass which stretches across all three parks. In Queensland summers, visitors are grateful for the water park access, and there are always new attractions. At Sea World, it’s the Storm ride, a flume-rollercoaster combination. And while baby polar bear Henry is on the larger side of cute these days, he often remains playful in the water.

THE VERDICT

Family holidays can be expensive. But if visitors do their homework beforehand, a visit to the Sea World Resort can be cost-effective, particularly if it includes theme park entry. And you won’t be skimping on the luxuries – it’s been in the resort owners’ interest to ensure rooms and surrounds remain modern, and competitive with all that the Gold Coast has on offer. And no need to get the children prepared for the theme park road trip. It’s right next door.  

HOW TO GET THERE

From Brisbane, it’s a casual 60-minute drive down the highway. Take the Southport exit and follow the signs. Sea World is towards the far end of The Spit, and the hotel entrance is past the theme park on the left. 

ESSENTIALS

Sea World Resort and Water Park, Sea World Drive, Main Beach, Gold Coast. Rooms start at around $119/night, but look out for deals which include theme park entry. From $199, a stay in the resort includes unlimited entry for two people. Prices do, however, vary and can be towards the $300 mark on weekends. Phone 1300 139 677, see seaworldresort.com.au.

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