Justine Tyerman discovers the extraordinary QT Gold Coast which makes other hotels literally pale by comparison…
Element of surprise
You are never alone in the elevators at QT Gold Coast. They are populated by beach babes in a variety of poses befitting the 1950s. Despite travelling in the lifts dozens of times, I was still caught off-guard when the doors opened to reveal a couple playing leap-frog in the sand or a bevy of guests taking selfies with a bikini-clad girl.
The element of surprise infuses the whole ethos of the hotel.
Designers have thrown the traditional hotel concept out the window and opted to startle and astonish guests rather than to sooth and calm them.
The triffid-esque mobile mural in the entrance lobby was my introduction to the establishment. I was hypnotised by the fronds of the giant technicolour plant that seemed to reach out towards me and lure me in.
At the reception desk, there’s a marked absence of dark suits and ties. Team QT are super-friendly, dressed in casual attire and bright colours in keeping with the beach vibe.
And there’s nothing muted or minimalist about the decor either. Why go for subtle and subdued when you can have giant yellow, red and burnt orange lightshades and outside furniture that looks like a kaleidoscope has exploded in the courtyard.
My ocean-view room on the 17th floor was delightfully outlandish. The mirrors were shaped like daisies, the chairs were shocking pink and bright orange, the hair dryer was masquerading as a psychedelic garden, there was an edible beach scene on the table and a luminous cockatoo beside the bed.
The view from the balcony was also astonishing but nature took all the credit for that. Spray was streaming off the crests of perfect aqua-green waves in the late afternoon sun creating a multitude of tiny rainbows.
Impatient to set (bare) foot on the famous golden sand of Surfers’ Paradise, I slipped into my togs, grabbed the Rocky-style robe from the bathroom and strolled a couple of minutes to the beach.
The sand was sensuously warm from the rays of the mid-winter sun and the sea was 23 degrees… in late June. At home in New Zealand the landscape was blanketed with ice and snow – here, I doubt they even know what a frost looks like.
That evening I dined at Yamagen, a 30-year-old Gold Coast institution which specialises in izakaya dining with kushiyaki, sushi, sashimi and cocktails. It’s an ultra-cool restaurant where old-school traditional Japanese traditions blend with innovative modern ideas. It was sensational.
I awoke to a golden sunrise flooding my room with light and lingered on the balcony watching the early surfers and paddle boarders.
Breakfast is never a big deal for me, but the colourful array at Bazaar bedazzled me. The restaurant is designed to resemble a bustling open marketplace with an eclectic mix of Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine and chatty chefs in open kitchens. My plate was soon overflowing. Who cares if the flavours argued with each other? They were all delicious.
I spent the day by the pool, on the beach and in the Jacuzzi contemplating the sweetness of life in this winterless land.
Hotel a popular venue
Later in the day, I met with Kimberley Boudelot, director of sales at QT Gold Coast who showed me around the establishment.
The hotel has 297 spacious guest rooms with ocean and hinterland views including 19 gorgeous ocean view suites, three restaurants, a snack bar/cafe, day spa, nail bar and pool bar open during summer.
QT Gold Coast is also a popular venue for conferences and events. With 15 versatile spaces from the huge ballroom to informal outdoor spaces, the hotel can cater for up to 750 delegates.
Opened six and a half years ago, the hotel is the first of nine hotels in Australia and New Zealand born under the QT brand, the most recent being QT Queenstown which opened late last year… QT in QT!
“All the hotels are very different in nature and take on their surroundings,” Kimberley said in response to my questions about QT’s unconventional interior design.
QT Gold Coast’s theme is nostalgic surfer chic meets Miami catwalk cool while Sydney is edgy intrigue and city swing, Melbourne is industrial chic and Falls Creek brings boutique luxury to the snowy slopes.
“Across the Tasman, QT Wellington is all about art, design, curiosities and a dash of the absurd while Queenstown is plush playtime luxe.”
Architect Nic Graham and stylist Anna Roberts are responsible for the décor of the hotels. I can’t wait to see what they came up with for QT Perth which opened on August 1.
“The hotels are anything but ordinary. Everything extraordinary. An eclectic mix of design and art, style and luxury… and a touch of quirk,” said Kimberley.
Being a Kiwi (New Zealander) skier who’s keen on quirk, QT in QT has my name on it.