Pristine beaches, lush green hinterland and an endless summer are just the beginning when it comes to the Gold Coast, as the city and its surrounds continue to wow international delegates. By Lauren Arena

The Gold Coast is renowned for its magnificent coastline and world heritage listed rainforests and parks. With a host of venues and attractions, and a world-class convention centre, the energetic and vibrant city never fails to impress.

Earlier this year the city hosted 1050 delegates as part of Herbalife China’s Leadership Vacation, an incentive reward experience for the global nutrition distributor’s top-performing Chinese employees.

Highlights of the five-day incentive included an opportunity to interact with some of Australia’s unique wildlife, particularly the koalas and kangaroos at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary; a trip to the iconic Sea World theme park where delegates got up close and personal with penguins, manta rays and other aquatic wildlife; and a gala dinner and awards spectacular held at Jupiters Hotel and Casino.

Gold Coast Business Events, a division of Gold Coast Tourism Corporation, won the rights for the city to host the Herbalife Leadership Vacation 2012 not only due to its close proximity to Asia but also thanks to its sophisticated event facilities, beautiful natural environments and diverse range of activities to keep delegates entertained and enthralled.

In the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Gold Coast Tourism has pledged to commit even more resources to the international meetings and incentive industry with a renewed focus on the Chinese market – so be sure to keep a look out for new incentive options surrounding the games.

Gold Coast Tourism chief executive, Martin Winter, said “Our primary focus for the business events sector right now is to identify and attract potential events to the Gold Coast in the lead up to the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

“We’re excited about the games and the potential to leverage off world attention to attract more corporate visitors and create long-term business connections.”

The latest

GoldLinQ – The Gold Coast’s first light rail system is well under way, with stage one due to open in mid-2014. Fourteen air-conditioned trams will travel along the coast through Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, connecting passengers with bus services and local attractions along the way.

GCCEC set to upgrade IT offering – As a multi-purpose venue the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) caters for 6000 theatre-style and 3500 for a banquet event. Last year the centre launched free Wi-Fi for visitors and delegates capable of supporting high speed access for more than 2000 concurrent users, making it one of the first convention centres in Australia to offer this service free of charge.

Beach Lagoon Pool upgrade at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort – The spectacular one-acre beach lagoon pool is a favourite spot for resort guests and the perfect backdrop for any function or event, and after 25 years it’s received a facelift. The area, which has a capacity for 1500 delegates for an outdoor cocktail function, now features LED coloured pool lights as well as new, shiny white sand.

Hilton Surfers Paradise – Centrally located and just a short walk from the beach front Esplanade, this $700 million property opened its doors with a bang in 2011, injecting a sense of five-star luxury into the coastal city. Its 55-storey Orchid Tower features 169 accommodation rooms, six meeting rooms and a poolside function space for 800. There’s also an impressive range of restaurants and bars.

QT Gold Coast – Blasting onto the hotel scene in 2011, this audacious, fun-loving property is the first in what is rapidly becoming a nation-wide collection of unique, designer hotels. At the cutting edge of style with 297 new guest rooms and three floors of dedicated events space, this property offers contemporary living spaces with custom furniture, graphica and bold colours inspired by Australian surf nostalgia. The hotel also includes a new designer spa concept, offering a modern twist for spa-goers looking for something bespoke and refreshing.

Seasoned professionals

Amid the countless new properties and attractions popping up along the Gold Coast, there are a few firm favourites that continue to stand the test of time.

Palazzo Versace – Home to three award-winning restaurants, a stunning day spa and impressive event facilities for up to 500 people, the Palazzo Versace is everything you would expect from the world’s first fashion-branded hotel. A jewel along the Queensland coast since 2000, the property features richly decorated spaces with peerless marbles and mosaics, 200 guest rooms, which are currently undergoing refurbishment, and 72 condominiums. The property offers twilight cocktail-making classes by the pool as well as luxe food experiences with an extravagant degustation menu and interactive sushi-making classes.

Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa – With 28 floors, 299 rooms, 30 suites and nine meeting rooms, the Marriot has been a fixture of the glitter strip in the heart of Surfers Paradise for more than two decades. Keeping up appearances, the tourism icon recently underwent a major $20 million refurbishment. The hotel’s extensive makeover, inspired by the much-loved lagoon pool with its tropical fish, includes revitalised guest rooms, a refreshed lobby area and dedicated events floor, as well as a new all-day dining interactive restaurant, Citrique.

Jupiters Hotel and Casino – Neighbouring the GCCEC in glamorous Broadbeach, this venue is jam-packed with features and facilities, including 594 rooms, 16 meeting rooms, the Pavilion ballroom that seats 2200 and Jupiters Theatre, a 2000-seat tiered auditorium. There’s also an award-winning spa, state-of-the-art fitness centre, five bars and eight restaurants. More than 25 years old, the property is in the midst of a $350 million refurbishment.

Sofitel Gold Coast – As stylish as ever and in the thriving commercial centre of Broadbeach, this five-star property boasts 296 accommodation rooms, 10 meeting rooms, two outdoor function spaces, and an exclusive sky-high meeting venue with a team of award-winning banquet chefs. Conference packages also include team-building activities such as a two-hour gourmet masterclass, dessert styling with the hotel’s pastry chef and a wine appreciation tutorial and tasting.

RACV Royal Pines Resort – Set on 100 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and a 27-hole composite golf course, this 331-room property is contemporary and family-friendly. With 15 meeting rooms and space to seat 1000 banquet-style, along with five tennis courts, swimming pool, eight restaurants and bars, and a brand spanking new, multi-million dollar day spa, this is the ideal venue to mix business with pleasure.

Sheraton Mirage Resort and Spa – First opened in 1987, surrounded by 3.4 hectares of lagoons and gardens, this iconic resort recently completed a whopping $26 million renovation with 295 refurbished rooms and suites, a sparklingly new lobby and reception area and upgraded meeting and event facilities. There’s also the new-look Terraces Restaurant, set on the lagoon and famous for its seafood buffet, and the very smart Pearls Bar (previously the Breakers), which serves high tea by day and cocktails after dark. m