Opened in late 2018, voco Gold Coast is a new concept in hotel design combining funky interiors, smart yet informal dining and a modest price tag. So successful is the formula that parent company IHG is currently opening seven more voco properties around the world. This 389-room flagship hotel occupies the site of the old Watermark Hotel & Spa in Surfers Paradise, just a block from the beach. The new fit-out includes a glamorous reception area, chic new cocktail bar, refreshed day spa and Clifford's Grill & Lounge, an up-market diner on the ground floor. The property also offers two modest swimming pools and a helpful concierge desk.
With a light rail stop nearby, this hotel could hardly be more central. There are plenty of shopping and dining options right on the doorstep. The sweeping white sands of Surfers Paradise Beach are a short walk away, as is the SkyPoint Observation Deck, a new Gold Coast attraction. Getting to the various theme parks takes a little more effort, but most are accessible by either bus or light rail.
Despite its size, voco Gold Coast manages to feel like a boutique property – thanks in part to its glammed up public spaces. The lobby has been given a serious pop art makeover with retro chairs, bright yellow cushions and loud prints on the wall. The decor just screams Aussie beach chic; this styling is evident in the guest rooms, which are filled with light. The designers have gone for a more sober modernist look in the dining spaces, with dark wood trimmings, sexy lighting and backlit drinks cabinets.
Our Superior King Ocean room is bright, airy and uncluttered, but a little cramped with two queen-sized beds crammed into its modest dimensions. Despite its child-friendly image, the hotel charges extra if you want a roll-out bed – which is an oversight. On the plus side, there is plenty of hanging space and a very smart new bathroom in grey slate. Our room has impressive views over the busy shopping strip and across to Surfers Paradise Beach.
Thanks to its makeover the voco is now equipped with three new dining options: Clifford's Grill & Lounge, a swish bistro-style space, Waves Buffet Restaurant, open for breakfast and evening meals, and the Social House, which serves tasty snacks and good coffee during the day, and something a little more substantial, think grilled halloumi and slow braised pork belly, after dark. The in-house bar has a good choice signature cocktails and wine by the glass.
Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, voco offers easy access to the major Gold Coast theme parks, including the superbly run Sea World which is a short bus ride away. The hotel is right opposite the SkyPoint Observation Deck, another must-do attraction, and just five minutes from the beach. There are plenty of cheap eateries nearby and the light rail stops outside the hotel.
A great location, bright contemporary rooms and enthusiastic staff make this an obvious choice for anyone looking for affordable accommodation on the Gold Coast, but the hotel could be more child-friendly. Charging a toddler full price for buffet breakfast and $78 for a rollout bed seems a little excessive.
Doubles from $144 a night, including free Wi-Fi. See goldcoast.vocohotels.com
The welcome at the voco is as warm as the Queensland sun. While some hotels are a little frosty when confronted with young children, staff here are amazingly laid-back and tolerant.
The breakfast buffet is uninspiring and always crowded, with few options for small children. Walk down to the Sandbar on The Esplanade for a fresh, healthy brekkie and great coffee.
Mark Chipperfield travelled at his own expense.