Sunday, June 9, 2013

Living it up on the Gold Coast

Day 1 (Sun, 2 June 2013)

We decided to spend our family vacation this year at Gold Coast, Australia, taking advantage of budget airline Scoot's fares.  This was our first experience with Scoot and it was excellent. Scoot uses SIA's old, refurbished planes and the seats are very comfortable. We paid a little more for the seats with wider legroom (yellow seats) and I must say, they are generously sized.  Well worth the extra.  Even though we flew during the peak June holidays, the yellow seats were not fully booked so we were able to stretch out our legs, taking several seats.  Extremely convenient especially for an overnight flight where trying to sleep in a single seat usually is a challenge.

Gold Coast Airport is very small but clean and modern. No aerobridge, we walked on the tarmac to the terminal. 

After a quick breakfast at one of the cafes at the airport, we collected our rental car from Economy Car Rental and headed for our accommodation at Xanadu Main Beach Resort.  Even though it was only about 10am, our apartment was ready.  It was no. 32 on the 10th floor and when we opened the door, all four of us went, "WAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!" 

Lesley-Anne and her Sony Nex 5n went into action. Magnificent panoramic sea view from the living room, balcony and master bedroom. 

Taken from the living room window.

An obviously thrilled boy.

I'd booked the apartment because it looked fantastic in the pictures and had great reviews on Tripadvisor. We had wondered though if reality would match up to the marketing and in this case, it really did.  In fact, Xanadu surpassed our expectations. It's a two-bedroom self-contained apartment (meaning it's not serviced everyday like hotels) and it's really fabulously thought out.  It has everything you could possibly need and the rooms are extremely spacious and clean.

Master bedroom with walk-in closet and baggage space:

Ensuite (there are two bathrooms in this apartment):

Second bedroom with a full wall of wardrobe space:

Living (with 42 inch flat screen tv) and dining area.

Complete kitchen with dishwasher, oven, fridge and full set of cutlery and crockery.

There's even a laundry room with washer and dryer. We weren't planning on doing any laundry but when Andre's jacket became very grimy and dirty midway through the trip, it was very handy to do able to do a quick load.

All linen and two sets of mini toiletries provided.  We were amazed at how great the apartment was considering we paid only A$170 per night for it (after early bird discounts).  If you're interested, we booked the ocean view apartment.

Just some basic info, Gold Coast is known for its long stretch of beach broken up by sections, the most popular of which is of course, Surfer's Paradise. The beaches from the top downwards are: Main Beach, Surfer's Paradise, Broadbeach, Mermaid Beach, Miami and so on.  Running parallel to the beaches is Gold Coast Highway (No.2) which is the main road all the way to the airport (about 45 mins away).

Surfer's Paradise is where the heart of the action is, with its eateries, main market, etc. But as expected, it's also frightfully expensive.  I saw a regular looking motel advertising A$350 a night.  Parking is mostly along street sides, costing about A$2.90 a hour.  Staying at Xanadu at Main Beach was wonderful because we were less than 5 mins away from Surfer's but didn't have to pay those prices.   

We dumped our luggage at our apartment and headed to Surfer's for a spot of lunch.  Kebabs at a roadside stall. The filling was generous and the beef very tender.  The best part was eating al fresco in 22 degree celcius comfort.

We were at Surfer's for a specific mission - to find JTB Gold Coast Travel Centre.  I'd researched online and found out that this place has the best deals for theme park and other tourist attraction tickets.  True enough, we received a great deal.  They had a bundle for Dreamworld and Movieworld at A$140 per adult and A$87 per child (vs buying at the gate, A$84.99 per adult and A$49.99 per child for each park).  We also bought discounted tickets for whale watching (A$69 per adult, A$49 per child) with free pickup and drop off at hotel vs full price (A$99 per adult, A$69 per child).

That evening, we drove out to the marina in search for dinner.  This was another bonus for us. Xanadu is conveniently close (less than 5 mins away) to the waterway and Seaworld, where the boats and main sea activities are.  There is a wealth of eating spots here, including at Mariner's Cove where we ended up having many dinners.

Before we came to Gold Coast, people kept telling me how expensive food was here.  We found that this didn't really bear out.  Sure, at some restaurants, you will find $25 fish and chips but honestly, you don't have to look too hard to find reasonably priced food.  You can especially get great meal deals for lunch.  Even at Surfer's, we saw many set lunches for A$9.95.  More importantly, the price tag you see on the menu at restaurants are all nett. No service charge or additional GST and that makes a world of difference.  The only thing was that while we were there, the Aussie dollar was still very high, about S$1.27 to A$1.00 so the conversion rate was not in our favour.  It has since gone down to about S$1.18.  Bad timing for us.

Anyway, one of the food outlets in the marina area is the popular Peter's Fish Market.

Here, you can buy fresh seafood or just order your fish and chips at the counter.

We decided to do a takeaway instead of dining there so it was fish and chips at Xanadu.

A very good day.


kerry smith said...

I have never been Gold Coast, but i have read a page from this :, yours is better than it, i am so looking forward to go there now all because of your article, thank you for sharing this, have a luck day!!!

dan said...

Hi, I noted that scoot airlines departs gold coast airport at 0905 hours. Did you have any issues returning your car at the airport on the day of departing gold coast?
thank you.

monlim said...

Dan: No problem returning the car at the airport :)

dan said...

thank you very much. i like your blog post on gold coast! i am thinking of staying in xanadu too. would you recommend economy car rental based on your previous experience?

monlim said...

Dan: Yes, definitely. Enjoy!

car rental gold coast said...

Good article .

Mark said...

Wow what a nice vacation you got there! No questioning that you and your family enjoyed! Thanks for sharing your awesome experience :)

Tony M. said...

Good post.