August 17, 2022 | By Bev Malzard and Bronwen Largier | Image: Tourism and Events Queensland

As well as the popular precincts – Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, and Burleigh Heads – the lush greenery of the Gold Coast hinterland beckons visitors to explore Mt Tamborine and Lamington National Park.

Once best known for its surplus of theme parks, the Gold Coast is evolving as destination – as much for those who call it home as for business events delegates.

And while the theme parks continue to offer conferences and incentives unique offsite opportunities – from breakfast with dolphins to dinner with many of the world’s most famous and fantastical movie heroes – the destination’s knowledge and experience offering is deepening to create another layer for business events visitors, in particular, to savour.

The establishment of top shelf caterers, international luxury hotels and the maturing of conference spaces, the local restaurant scene and business-events-ready experiences make for a compelling proposition for the MICE market.

Starting at the southern end of the Gold Coast, sentinel architectural wonders are etched along the coast from Coolangatta all the way north to Sanctuary Cove. And in between, villages have taken on their own personality so the Gold Coast’s 57km stretch of sunny coastline now has a something new at every stop.

Coasting along

Starting at the south end of the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads is quickly gaining the title of the hippest place to be. A laidback vibe with an incredible surf beach, it also has the goods for business events.

For groups from 60 pax to 500 guests, book the Burleigh Pavilion and The Tropic. At the end of the pavilion, The Tropic is a light-filled full-service restaurant, with sweeping beach views, affording a more premium dining experience. The food is a fresh take on Mediterranean and modern Australian. The Tropic is available for exclusive use for between 60 and 200, while the entire Pavilion can host 500 for absolute beachfront cocktail events.

This is Gold Coast delegates at The Tropic at Burleigh Pavilion

Inching further north into Queensland, next stop is HOTA (Home of The Arts) in Surfers Paradise. There are plenty of spaces here for events, from indoor rooms and cinemas to the magnificent outdoor amphitheatre and stage which boast incredible diversity for gatherings, from large scale presentations or performances to dinners on the stage for 140 guests.

The latest jewel in the crown here is the $60.5 million HOTA Gallery which opened in May last year, becoming the largest Australian public art gallery outside a capital city. Business events groups can have a private guided tour of the collections outside of opening hours, complete with a walking, talking art installation, which brings something quite unexpected to the experience.

Let us now drift into QT Gold Coast, a 297-room hotel that bucks the soft beige palette trend, popping instead with colour and youthful vigour. The hotel that brought a different kind of cool to Surfers Paradise faces the rising sun over the ocean on one side and the mountains and hinterland on the other.

The onsite restaurant here, Yamagen, has longevity on the Gold Coast – it has been pleasing palates for more than 30 years. It had a makeover and refurb in 2017 but has never lost sight of its roots as the coast’s first fine dining Japanese restaurant, serving up brilliant food with a fabulous cocktail menu that stands tall among the imported beers and extensive wine list.

Business is back

Travelling up the coast from postcode to postcode, it is obvious that the Gold Coast put in the work during the quiet pandemic years. Hotels were refurbed, restaurants reset to capitalise on new trends in food and décor and those responsible for the Gold Coast’s hospitality were busy preparing for post-lockdown times.

With business – and business events – now back in force, emerging venues are sparking interest.

Miami Marketta activated for This is Gold Coast

For visitors, Miami Marketta is one of those. This establishment easily rivals inner city meeting places in Melbourne and Sydney. The eclectic, colourful venue is so cool that Baz Luhrmann held the official Elvis cast and crew wrap party here.

Corporate events at Miami Marketta make the most of the sprawling multi-faceted venue – and can be whatever you want them to be – laneway-style music gig to international street food market. Not what you might have expected from the Gold Coast in times gone by, but in these “new” times, expect the unexpected.

Craft beer, boutique wines and unusual soft drink options plus a variety of street food options at stalls to cruise by can please 100 to 1,200 guests and the trendy vibe is sure to impress too.

The Star Gold Coast has one of the region’s newest venues in its recently opened tower – Isoletto, with a splendid view of the coast and sophisticated cocktails. Cocktail making classes here make for a fun group activity.

Gothic, fantasy splendour, created by Event Society, at Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre

The Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre also knows how to put on a show, with the help of the local industry. After a classy two-course meal we were ushered behind heavy curtains to be immersed in gothic, fantasy splendour, created by Event Society. There was a collective gasp of surprise when we saw long tables set up with candelabra, green the overriding colour for all things glam and spectacular. A beautiful fairy festooned with flowers swung from above and an amazing dessert was served.

And the final stop – a resort in the city for the evening’s entertainment.

A beach club in the town, a resort on top of a building, a pool just metres from the beach. The Cali Beach Club is a day/night club that can be reserved exclusively or partially for groups and events. Alongside the pool and the band area, there are lots of tucked away corners. The catering shows off the best of seafood extravaganzas and there’s a special stand for the cupcake maker – too easy to be treated to the gold that the coast offers.

The Gold Coast, the bold coast – the total package.

micenet was the guest of Destination Gold Coast and Rex Airlines for This is Gold Coast.

The Cali Beach Club