If the Gold Coast isn’t on your radar for your upcoming conference or incentive reward then it should be, as Brad Foster discovered recently.

BY BRAD FOSTER

A funny thing happened to me on my most recent Gold Coast experience. I got inspired. And it didn’t take long either.
I was taking part in a Gold Coast Convention Bureau educational of the destination with a group of corporate meeting planners. Less than two hours after leaving Sydney I was sitting in the award-winning Vedere Restaurant located on the 21st floor at the RACV Royal Pines Resort enjoying a casual  lunch prepared by celebrated chef Trent Dawson and looking out at the stunning view – mountains on one side and water on the other. There had been some rain earlier but the sky was a stunning blue now. No smog, no city haze, no nothing. This was the Gold Coast and it welcomed me with open arms.
Even the pre-trip briefing from the convention bureau was inspiring: “Discover how you can deliver a world-class business event integrating 70 kilometres of famous coastline, 100,000 hectares of world heritage listed subtropical rainforest, more theme parks than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, private islands, 500 kilometres of canals, 36,000 accommodation rooms, 800 accommodation venues, and more than 600 restaurants and cafes all within minutes drive of each other.”
Perhaps it’s something in the water up there or the fact that so many properties are looking so good that the smiles on the faces of those showing you the place they call home is a little bit infectious. Even the swift site inspection of Royal Pines following lunch wasn’t a drag. The venue, located away from the rush rush of the Gold Coast proper, is looking damn-fine, and continues to be a favourite with the serious conference market, especially those groups that don’t mind a round of golf in-between sessions.
It was following this tour, and a quick site of the nearby Radisson Resort Gold Coast (complete with mocktail), that the fun really began thanks to those wonderful Harley Davidson motorcycles and their owners. Participants, including myself, hit the road on a beautiful winter’s afternoon and cruised down some of the highways and byways that now make the Gold Coast such an easy destination to navigate. And this time, rather than cruising along the coast we headed into the hinterland, stopping for a brief time to soak up one of the most amazing views back towards the coast.
The trip concluded in the stunning new Hilton Surfers Paradise hotel which would be our dinner venue and accommodation for the night. This architecturally inspiring property has two towers just a stone’s throw from the beach. It has 169 hotel rooms and 250 one, two and three-bedroom “residences”, a ballroom that can accommodate up to 320 theatre-style, and a number of smaller break-out rooms.
The piece de resistance, however, has to be its restaurant, Salt Grill, managed by celebrity chef Luke Mangan.  If you do get the opportunity make sure you enjoy a meal here, and don’t forget a pre-dinner drink in the uber cool Fix cocktail bar.