And you thought the Sunshine Coast was on top of its game in 2012. Just wait until you read what’s happened in 2013.

BY BRAD FOSTER 

At the business event industry’s annual exhibition in Melbourne earlier this year, the Sunshine Coast presence was bigger than ever. And for good reason it turns out, with plenty of new things happening in the destination that has for many years been regarded as a smaller version of the Gold Coast.

Experienced business event practitioners will tell you that that comparison is just not on. Both located in Queensland and both bordered by beaches on one side and a sub-tropical rainforest hinterland on the other, that’s where the similarities should most definitely stop.
The Sunshine Coast is definitely not the Gold Coast. No big casino, towering hotels, bevy of nightclubs, and no stand-alone dedicated convention centre, the Sunshine Coast may be big on attitude and delivery but certainly is not over the top in any particular area. Whereas the Gold Coast is often regarded as being a glitzy, adrenalin-charged destination, the Sunshine Coast is considerably more sedate. Less traffic and fewer crowds makes for a destination that is gaining in popularity for the business event market year on year.

A point not lost in the aviation world either, with Tiger Airways announcing earlier this year that it was now offering flights between Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast. At the time of the announcement, general manager of Tourism Noosa, Damien Massingham, welcomed the news, citing Melbourne as one of the region’s most important markets.
And this is certainly great news for the business event sector as well, with anticipation high that more conference groups are likely from Melbourne because of the new flights.
No doubt corporate event practitioners are already poring over the brand new planners’ guide they picked up at the AIME exhibition in Melbourne. On the design BESC manager, Pippa McCreery, said a stronger focus had been consciously undertaken in keeping with the beauty of the region, with greater use of imagery implemented into it.
Also new is a more user-friendly website that focuses predominantly on meeting visitors’ needs.

The website provides a ‘one stop shop’ for event planners, with innovative features including an interactive mapping tool, a comprehensive news section including blog articles, and a resource library containing image and video downloads.
“The 2013/2014 planners’ guide contains all the information needed to meet, sleep, taste and indulge on the Sunshine Coast,” she said.
Information is provided in a user-friendly, easy-to-follow format, with a particular focus on meeting and accommodation options.

Upgrade for Mantra

Like many venues in the region, the Mantra Mooloolaba Beach has undergone a major refurbishment, recently completing a $3 million upgrade to rooms, public areas and facilities, ensuring it is the resort of choice for guests.
The resort, which accommodates more than 35,000 guests over peak summer periods and more than 100,000 annually, has a new modern look across its spacious one, two and three bedroom apartments.
The already impressive views afforded by the Mantra Moolalaba Beach apartments are now complemented by upgrades including a new colour scheme of earthy tones, chocolate brown and touches of sky blue in keeping with the laid back coastal location. New king zip ensemble beds with

mattress toppers, new carpet, LCD TVs, outdoor furniture, fixtures and artwork complete the new look.
In the lobby, new lounges, reception desk, fixtures and paint add a fresh feel to the area while an internet station has been installed, providing a convenient space for guests to check flight bookings, print boarding passes or access the internet for the latest tourist information.
Mantra Mooloolaba Beach has also put the fun back into conferencing with a brand new `Delegate Reviver Zone’ which includes exercise bikes, exercise balls, iPod/iPhone docking stations and headphones, iPads fitted to game consoles with loaded arcade games, juggling balls and a `how to’ guide, bean bags, ottomans, fresh juices, selection of fruit and daily newspapers. Delegates can ‘zone in’ and out to refresh their mind, encourage creativity, and refocus on business.
The new Reviver Zone complements the extensive upgrades made to the resort’s conference rooms and boardroom over the last 12 months. With more than 260 conferences and events held at Mantra Mooloolaba Beach each year and the capacity to hold 250 delegates, the resort’s conferencing facilities and variety of activities in the surrounding region provide an excellent meeting place.
Kids (and kids at heart) will love the resort’s new Games Room which includes complimentary use of table tennis, mini air hockey and mini table soccer, with paid games such as pool, sega car rally and an arcade selection. Indoor and outdoor heated pools and extensive BBQ areas are also available.

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