Gold Coast venues have collectively spent more than $180 million on the development of their conference and event facilities during the past 12 months, according to Gold Coast Tourism Corporation director of business events, Anna Case.

“More than a third of our members who participated at AIME [in February] have undergone major multi­million dollar redevelopments to their event and conference facilities in the past 12 months and there is more planned.

“Others are at the national forefront of user technology. It’s a very exciting time.

“With world-class infrastructure projects recently completed – the Light Rail completed in 2014 has surpassed all predicted passenger numbers – and the forward-thinking commitment of the venue providers, the Gold Coast is certainly in a position to attract more business.”

Upping the ante in preparation for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Ms Case said Gold Coast Tourism are working closely with the Gold Coast 2018 Corporation (GOLDOC), City of Gold Coast and State Government partners to leverage the huge opportunity presented by the Games.

“From the Business Events perspective, we’re already looking at stepping up strategic marketing initiatives to leverage pre, during and post GC2018 opportunities for the local Business Events industry from as early as FY16.

“With an anticipated global TV audience of 1.5 billion, discussions are happening now around the marketing and media program to maximise positive exposure of the Gold Coast and its attributes as a leisure and business travel destination.

“We are all positive about the opportunities the event provides in the lead up to and during the games and expect that the effect will be felt long after the closing ceremony.

“Our brilliant BE members have been quick to offer their support for Gold Coast Tourism’s marketing strategies that will be implemented for Business Events.

“We’ve also been working with our members to secure a range of accommodation for the 6500 athletes and team officials, 100 technical officials and 3000 journalists. We’ve been overwhelmed with the level of support and excitement shown by the Gold Coast accommodation providers,” she said.

As well as the recently completed Light Rail, another major piece of infrastructure set to take centre stage ahead of the 2018 Games is the first stage of a new cultural precinct at Evandale.

Making a splash

The Gold Coast’s proposed 17 hectare Cultural Precinct will include a $37.5 million first stage to be delivered by 2018.

A feature of this first stage will be an outdoor performance space. With an initial concept known as `the splash’, this versatile venue will occupy a prime river-front location with the iconic Surfers Paradise skyline as its backdrop. Stage 1 will deliver a transitional City Gallery to showcase Gold Coast art and touring exhibitions.

Gold Coast City mayor, Tom Tate, unveiled the initial concept for the precinct’s Stage 1 in February.

“Cultural Precinct winning design team, ARM Architecture and Topotek1, has created a concept which they have labelled the splash as a uniquely Gold Coast response to our need for a truly versatile outdoor performance space,” Mayor Tate said.

The concept, emerging from the proposed grassed amphitheatre like a giant water splash from the adjacent Nerang River, will be subjected to detailed design development over the coming months to ensure it can deliver a versatile performance and activity space.

“We have great artists, the climate and the best precinct location with views to Surfers Paradise, and, by 2018, we’ll have a striking outdoor stage with a jam-packed civic and cultural program.
Demolition and construction of the existing council admininstration building is expected to begin in early 2016.

Stage 1 will include:

  • Versatile outdoor space, ‘the splash’ concept, equipped with services and technology
  • Riverside Hub – adapting council’s existing Riverside Building to accommodate a transitional gallery for visual arts exhibitions, along with creative partnership spaces
  • Initial artscape works – linking Stage 1 facilities and Evandale Lake enhancements

The precinct is set to open in early 2018 and will be a major Commonwealth Games venue, with coverage of the international event likely to be screened to the public from the splash.

The entire precinct, to be developed in stages, is expected to take between 10 and 15 years to complete.

The site’s multicoloured arts tower will be the centrepiece, to be built during a future stage. Up to six high-rises could also be erected around the edges of Evandale which are expected to range from hotels and residential accommodation to commercial use.

Mayor Tate said the refined Masterplan for the overall site had retained all the key elements of ARM’s competition-winning concept, including the colourful Arts Tower, expanded performing arts facilities and Artscape.

“It also integrates some allied uses – previously confined to the precinct’s western edge along Bundall Road – into the precinct, drawing in visitors, making it active around the clock and ensuring it will be more affordable to build and sustainable to operate.

“These uses could include an art hotel – a tourist draw-card in its own right – media and educational facilities, creative industries, residential accommodation and cafes,” Mayor Tate said.

Pacific Fair redevelopment update

Pacific Fair’s $670 million redevelopment is fast taking shape as it approaches the halfway mark. This year will mark the opening of two new stages within the south-east corner, which will bring to life parts of the new centre including approximately 70 specialty stores, an Events Cinemas, a fresh food marketplace and more than 1000 new car spaces.

When the development is complete in 2016, the centre will include two full-line department stores, two supermarkets, dining and bar experiences, a world-class indoor/outdoor entertainment precinct and more than 400 specialty stores.

Tangalooma Island Resort refurb

During the last 12 months, Tangalooma Island Resort has undergone an $8 million refurbishment of its main resort centre and, the pride of fleet, the Tangalooma Jet.

New conference facilities include the stunning Waterfront Pavilion, an ocean-side conference centre with views overlooking Moreton Bay and catering for 300 (plenary) or 250 (gala) delegates. The new resort centre also features a buffet restaurant, beach cafe, coffee lounge, and guest services and reception area.

The resort also recently welcomed a new resident, Miss Betty, a baby dolphin born in November 2014. Miss Betty is a regular visitor each evening, along with her mother, as part of the resort’s Wild Dolphin Feeding programme.

Jupiters redevelopment underway

Located in the heart of the Gold Coast, Jupiters Hotel & Casino is currently in the midst of an extensive $345 million redevelopment.

Stage one of the transformation was completed in December 2014, which included the opening of two new restaurants, a new resort pool and bar experience and the refurbishment of the building façade.

When complete the redevelopment will also include a new six-star luxury hotel tower, the refurbishment of every room in the existing 592-room hotel, and an array of contemporary restaurants and bars. The new tower is expected to be complete by 2017, in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Sea World conference centre opens in June

Boasting a stunning Broadwater location and easy access to some of Australia’s best theme parks, Sea World Resort is a one-stop-shop when it comes to conferencing on the Gold Coast.

In just a few short weeks, Sea World Resort will open the doors to its multi-million dollar, state of-the-art conference centre, capable of catering to 1000 people. The 750 square-metre space can be divided into three sections and features a

Porte Cochere with vehicle access as well as an expansive veranda with a retractable roof, ideal for coffee breaks, lunches or cocktail receptions.

The centre will be a welcome addition to the existing six conference venues currently in operation at the resort.

GCCEC launches conference app

The Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) together with the Broadbeach Alliance recently launched a Broadbeach Conference App exclusively for delegates attending events held at the GCCEC.

Available on Apple and Android devices, the free downloadable app provides delegates with exclusive offers and incentives to shop, dine, and stay within the Broadbeach precinct, which is home to more than 150 businesses and more than 3000 accommodation rooms all within walking distance of the GCCEC.

Delegates visiting the Gold Coast spend an average 3.8 days in the region, more than any other Queensland destination.

Capitalising on the benefits of a lucrative business events market, GCCEC general manager Adrienne Readings and Broadbeach Alliance CEO Jan McCormick believe the app is another tangible opportunity for Broadbeach.

“The Broadbeach Conference App is an excellent tool for businesses within the precinct to provide targeted offers for delegates attending conferences and events at the GCCEC,” Ms Readings, said.

“The centre attracts over 200,000 delegates annually and this equates to a strong economic injection directly into Broadbeach and the wider Gold Coast community.”

Business events held at the GCCEC generate an annual average of 350,000 delegate days with businesses in the nearby precinct benefitting from a steady stream of new and repeat GCCEC clientele.

Broadbeach Alliance CEO Jan McCormick said the app launch is creating a positive momentum among Broadbeach stakeholders.

“More than 80 businesses have already signed on in support of the app.

“The program not only has a positive impact on the delegate experience but it equally has a positive economic flow-on effect onto stakeholders through direct patronage.”

Hilton Surfers Paradise

Hilton Surfers Paradise offers a sophisticated, five-star destination in the heart of Surfers Paradise. With boutique indoor meeting rooms and a range of spectacular outdoor spaces, the venue has quickly become a hot option for those hosting a special event, meeting or business incentive.

The hotel’s ballroom caters for up to 220 banquet style or 350 for cocktail parties. Featuring a brilliant feature ceiling, timber panels and toned metallic fabric accents, the ballroom offers a contemporary setting with built-in audio-visual and wide format drop-down screens.

With its range of adaptable and unique event areas the hotel can cater for up to six concurrent breakout sessions, but the real jewel in the Hilton’s crown is the hotel’s expansive pool deck. This 1500 square-metre outdoor space, complete with waterfalls, lawns and manicured gardens, can be divided into four smaller event spaces, each with its own style.

Adding to the appeal of the hotel, the Hilton Executive Lounge, Salt grill restaurant and the popular FIX Bar are all equally well-designed and suited to private functions and events, with menus by acclaimed chef Luke Mangan.