Sunday, August 3, 2014

WINTOUR&GUINNESS TAKES A TRIP TO SURFERS PARADISE AND STAYS AT THE QT GOLD COAST, EATS AT ELK ESPRESSO AND RELAXES AT BYRON BAY


Whilst my parents were down under we took a trip up north to the Gold Coast to catch up with some family and also to return to some of my favorite spots around the area. Last time I was up there I had the pleasure of staying at the incredible Palazzo Versace (which I wrote about here) however this time around my wonderful folks booked us into the QT Gold Coast just north of the main shopping strip.

We arrived early in the afternoon to meet my uncle who much to our surprise, was waiting for us at the arrivals hall of the airport. It was a lovely gesture as it had been a couple of years since he and my folks had seen one another. Zipping down the highway with the roof of his car down, basking in the sunshine, it was great to back on the GC since I have such fond memories of the place. Not that its anything like my first time there, back when I was eighteen. The newly opened tram line along the main shopping street and the various high rise buildings that dot the beachside promenade have made Surfers Paradise a much more cosmopolitan place. 


The team behind the QT Gold Coast describe the style of the hotel as ‘nostalgic surfer chic meets Miami catwalk cool’ and that is a perfect description of exactly what you will find once you walk through the entrance. From the moment you walk in, it’s pretty clear that things are a little different here to all the other Gold Coast hotels, this applies, especially to the Palazzo which I found to be a lot more "proper" (don't read that as a negative, its not - the place is spectacular). The style here is retro and that applies to everything from the clothing the staff wear, to the furniture and even the moving art on the walls as you walk in the entrance. 



The rooms were extremely comfortable with ample storage facilities, a luxurious bathroom and a bed so perfect I was tempted to ask how much to take it home. It seems that the bed was the only thing that wasn't up for purchase within the room. The one complaint that the folks and I both shared was that everything seemed to have a price tag on it, the hair dryer, the laundry bag and the plastic bottle of water on the bedside cabinet. Quench your thirst for only $3.50.... it left a bad taste in our mouths to be honest, however after a night out with the family at Jupiter's Casino, most of us didn't care how much it cost the morning after. Rehydration was essential.

We spent our first night meeting up with my uncle and his partner for a bite to eat at Hurricanes. Anyone who loves a great steak or ribs will agree that Hurricanes is hard to beat. They have a few spots around Austrlalia however they have yet to enter into the tricky Melbourne market. Strange really, I could see it doing so well down here. The restaurant even managed to place another group of Irish beside us which as you can image led to some funny conversations between the two tables. The meal was delicious and my folks (especially my Dad) were really impressed with the quality of the food. 



The next morning, sticking on my trainers, I decided to go for a bit of jog along Main Beach. The weather was amazing and the early surfers and joggers were out in full force. Having lived in Melbourne for three and a half years my first thought in the morning is coffee and thankfully there are a few places in and around Surfers that serve some great coffee. Taking a trip fifteen to twenty minutes south to Broadbeach, we grabbed a coffee at Elk Espresso, a place we had come across and loved the last time we were on holiday there. Elk serves great coffee, scrumptious food and a range of healthy treats like vegan banana bread. Its always busy and the service is top notch.

The next night my folks, Kevin and I met my uncle and his partner at Jupiters for a night at the casino. We started with a meal at Osteria Vivo, an Italian restaurant which promises an Italian food experience found nowhere else along the Gold Coast. The service was nice and relaxed and the meal itself was pleasant enough, however it was nothing out of this world. I ordered the tagliolini with braised pork shoulder and tomato, which was nice, but the most popular dish on the table was by far the veal scaloppine with mushroom, potato and parsley. My father gave it two thumbs up when asked how it was.



After dinner we made our way down to the theatre to watch the variety show, the name of which has slipped my mind. It was spectacular and really impressed the group, who if truth be told  weren't sure what to expect. Afterwards, we made our way up to the casino to grab a few drinks before heading back to the hotel for our last sleep in that magical bed.  

The next morning, with the others feeling a little fragile, Kevin and I made our way to Edgewater Dining & Lounge Bar for some brunch. Set in a small enclave featuring a number of independent cafes and food stores, my uncle had recommended this place due to my love of black pudding. Looking at the menu I was rather excited to see the mention of 'Clonakilty brand' black pudding despite the dish being called English Black Pudding (ummmm not sure if there even is a Clonakilty in the UK but if so, I am pretty sure its not going to be known for its black pudding - that would be a rather large coincidence since Clonakilty in Ireland is world renowned for its black pudding). 



Along with some poached eggs and toasted ciabatta, I was somewhat puzzled when the dish arrived. It wasn't Clonakilty black pudding after all, but another brand. It was tasty, but no Clonakilty. Truth be told I was a little disappointed. Feeling nice and fresh since I hadn't had any alcohol all weekend, I ordered the Fresh Virgin, a delicious concoction made up of coconut water, pineapple and mint. It was perfection in a glass.


All was good, I was a happy guy (despite my disappoint with the black pudding) and then yikes, I tripped and ripped a big chunk of flesh off the top of my big toe. With a twenty minute walk ahead of me and a bleeding toe, I hobbled back to the hotel to meet my folks. It was our last day on the Gold Coast and our flight wasn't until 9pm that night so we decided to hire a car and make our way to Byron Bay. It was a beautiful day and getting the chance to visit Byron Bay was fantastic. The area is a hub of health and well being and attracts a very diverse crowd, including one Jordan Stenmark who passed us on the main street (an Australian male model for my non-Australian readers). 



An afternoon of Mexican food, peanut butter and cookie dough ice cream and relaxing along the beach at Byron was just what we all needed before our journey back to Melbourne. 

For more information on some of the above mentioned, check out the links below:

QT Gold Coast (www.qtgoldcoast.com.au)
Edgewater Dining & Lounge Bar (www.edgewaterdining.com.au)
Hurricanes Grill (www.hurricanesgrill.com.au)
Jupiters Casino (www.jupitersgoldcoast.com.au)
Osteria Vivo (Osteria Vivo Homepage)

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