JW Marriott Resort & Spa weren't ever going to go small for the launch of their first Australian property, regardless of COVID-19. After a $35 million redevelopment, the 28-year-old Surfers Paradise Marriott has been elevated to a luxury resort. The lobby is certainly eye-catching: with its enormous marble spiral staircase as its focal point, the bar modelled on the Long Bar at Singapore's Raffles Hotel with slow-moving rattan fans and a colour scheme which reflects the region's forested hinterland, not its beaches. Though it's the huge tropical lagoon out back that still defines this property.
You're close to Surfers Paradise, but not too close (it's a 10-minute walk south). You're also only five minutes walk from the patrolled swimming beach at Main Beach, though what's as convenient is the resort is built on a canal, with all sorts of activities available for guests (from hydrofoil surfing to jet ski tours) behind the pool area.
The tropical lagoon outside with its white sandy beaches and cascading waterfalls could look dated, but there's enough modern styling (like a Californian-style silver Airstream serving lunch) to bring it into 2021. The lobby is the hero, and the bar within it (Chapter & Verse) is as chic as any hotel bar in Queensland (check out its peacock feather coloured bar). There's a restaurant for every mood, a 24-hour gym and being able to head out on the canals at the back of the property is convenient.
All 223 rooms have been refurbished, with compositions of natural timbers, fluted glass and local stone set within light blues and greys and not a single tropical flower print on display. Custom made local art work is featured in every room and all rooms offer bathtubs as well as showers plus bath tubs in the suites offer views over the beach and canals. You'll have a choice of ocean or hinterland views though most suites offer both.
New head of culinary, Paul Smart, who has worked across the globe for two decades, was appointed to instil a true farm (or sea)-to-table concept across all eateries. Take a tour of the market garden outside which grows fruit, vegetables, herbs and honey in a native bee house. Citrique offers a seafood market experience, with open kitchens and interactive cooking stations and seafood straight off the trawlers. Misono features an Izakaya and live sushi bar, while there's food also available at the bar and outside by the pool.
You're among it here, though you do have some breathing room. Main Beach and Tedder Avenue with their stylish al fresco cafes, restaurants and bars are only 10 minutes' walk away, while there are more than 50 restaurants and bars to choose from 10 minutes away in Surfers Paradise. Or ride the G-Link tram 15 minutes south to Broadbeach, or 25 minutes to Mermaid and Nobby Beach.
Hotel refurbishments can be polarising: favourite restaurants get gutted, cosy bars demolished for generic models, so it's good to see a refurb that works. JW Marriott manages a new layer of luxury in a 28-year-old hotel. Now it's as suitable for families as those from the white pant and snakeskin shoe brigade.
Rooms from $280 a night. 158 Ferny Ave, Surfers Paradise, Qld. See marriott.com
Craig Tansley travelled courtesy of JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
Looking over the canals and the houses of the region's rich and famous is more fun than getting a room with a view of the surf.
Great for families and couples who like a show with their dinner, but the chopping skills of the teppan chefs in Izakaya restaurant, Misono are displayed with a lot of noise.