Tucked away from the crowed Surfer's Paradise, this 5-star resort is a getaway haven on Main Beach. It is the only absolute beachfront property surrounded by 15 acres of picturesque landscaped tropical gardens and sparkling blue pools. With views of the Pacific Ocean and the Broadwater beyond, added to an esky of improved services, Sheraton Mirage Resort and Spa is one of my favourite places to stay, eat and play on the Gold Coast. And I'm looking forward to my next stay.
The Sheraton Mirage Resort and Spa was one of the hotels I visited in 1997 while on assignment on the Gold Coast and I have experienced its rise, wane and return as a luxury accommodation over the past 15 years. I remember the early stays when it was a shining beacon of luxury on the Gold Coast where the property was charming, rooms were trendy, food was delicious and service was top-notch. You were quickly assisted by concierge upon arrival and met-and-greeted by front office.
Unfortunately over the years, the property became neglected, the rooms dated and service slipped. There were long waiting times for room keys, frowning staff, no complimentary drinking water and absolutely nil recognition or attention given to SPG Platinum or Gold members. Apart from the fantastic beachfront views and access, there was really no reason to return, so I stayed away for several years.
Then the hotel changed hands to India-based Pearls Group. Committed to restore this iconic beachfront tourism property to its former glory, the new owners invested AUD20 million to overhaul the common areas, restaurant, bar and all the rooms. After my 2 most recent stays, I am doubly assured that the new Sheraton Mirage is poised to take back its former leadership role in Gold Coast's premium accommodation market.
Saying farewell to the passé styling, Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa has emerged with modern contemporary interiors shaped by clean lines and neutral colours that highlight the oceanfront view. The Porte Cochere entrance now welcomes guest into a new hotel lobby fitted out with designer furniture that spell elegance and comfort.
Front office service has improved with smiles, quicker check-in, acknowledgement for SPG members and automatic upgrade to the best available room. I was glad to once again see the welcome amenity, daily bottles of water and efficient housekeeping and friendly turndown service during the week stay.
Although I'm chilling out at a resort, I would like to be connected to family, friends and occasionally the office. The new Link@Sheraton internet experience offering complimentary WiFi and 4 computer stations in the lobby helps to make this happen. Then there's the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper Bed that promises a better snooze with luxurious sheets, a deluxe duvet, a selection of feather down and hypoallergenic pillows, and a custom mattress.
Sheraton is one of the Starwood brands and members of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program will automatically earn points on their total spend in the hotel, which are redeemable for free nights, room upgrades, award flights, merchandise awards etc in more than 1000 hotels in 100 countries. In addition, cumulative qualifying nights of 25 and 50 in a calendar year will earn you additional benefits. My peeve with Sheraton Mirage continues to be the absence of a Sheraton Club Lounge.
Apart from the refurbishment to modern contemporary designer furnishings and fittings, the other attractions for me are the spaciousness and comfort of the rooms with the smallest at 43 sqm, and views of the ocean, pool or garden. Lagoon Terrace rooms provide direct access to the pool while the Garden version offers a private terrace to enjoy the gardens but I prefer opening the panoramic windows of my room for the ocean views and sea breeze and the occasional spa bath.
All 295 rooms include turndown service, the Sheraton Sweet Sleeper bed, bathrobes and slippers, mini bar, coffee & tea making facilities, WiFi access and the latest Movielink system and Ipod Entertainment Station. Do note that this resort is quite extensive with long corridors of rooms so be prepared to trek between your room and lobby or restaurant.
The food quality at Sheraton Mirage has been consistent since my first foray into what was Gold Coast's most renowned seafood buffet at the Terraces Restaurant in 1997. It remains my favourite meal in the resort over the years although my consumption volume has drastically decreased.
It was a spacious and relaxed dining environment with views of the lagoons beyond then and the recent refurbishment has contemporised the space and accentuated it with the surrounding water features. The seafood buffet continues to serve up a generous spread of fresh local seafood, cold cuts, hot western and Asian dishes and delicious deserts that are just perfect for celebrations with family and friends or a date.
Breakfast is also an enjoyable experience with the generous selection of hot items, cold cuts, cheeses, pastries, cereals and tropical fruits accompanied by a choice of weak to strong plunger coffee and teas. Service levels have improved with more greetings and smiles even at a 7am brekkie and emptied plates being cleared away more efficiently at a busy buffet dinner.
Pearl Bar, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and tropical garden, now offers a relaxing space with designer furnishings for drinks and afternoon tea with a glass of sparkling wine, coffee or tea. If you can't get enough of the local seafood, The Oyster Bar features succulent prawns and freshly shucked oysters.
No resort can be deemed complete with a fully functioning poolside outlet and the Oasis Pool Bar does a good job with cocktails and beer at the swim-up counter and a menu of light lunch and ice creams for guests lazing on the Dedon designer lounges that surround the pool. With a 25 years celebration in progress, you can expect food and beverage specials across the outlets.
Relax and Play
A skybridge links the hotel to Marina Mirage and the Broadwater. A short walk and I'm in the luxury shopping and dining complex. Originally purpose-built in 1988 to service the resort guests, Marina Mirage has grown to offer global premium brands, high end fashion, homewares, artwork, jewellery, exciting dining options, an amazing marina dotted with luxury yachts and a picturesque view of the Broadwater.
In addition to in-resort dining, I enjoy the diversity of cheap pub fare and beer at the Fisherman's Tavern to the luxurious dining in Palazzo Versace. There's also Peter's Fish Market for a no-frills fish and chips takeaway by the marina and the Gold Coast Fishermen's Co-Operative which retails freshly caught king prawns, spanner crabs, moreton bay bugs, balmain bugs and sand crabs daily off the trawlers.
The resort is flanked by parklands that are great for morning or evening walks. I occasionally take a 30 mins stroll along the beach into Surfer's Paradise, which is a short 5 mins drive or 10 min by the Surfside bus. The getaway resort experience is enhanced by outdoor and indoor fitness facilities which include a lap pool, gymnasium and tennis courts. Hotel guests also have access to The Golden Door Spa & Health Club located adjacent to the resort, which offers a variety of spa treatments, natural therapies, group fitness classes and specialty activity classes.
The landscape of lush tropical gardens comes with their own swans gliding across the blue lagoons and ibis patrolling the 3.4 hectares grounds. A step outside the property and I am right by the Pacific Ocean and the near-private beach for my daily dose of sun, sand and sea. A swim in the sea can be easily followed by a relaxing dip in the large resort pool with swim-up bar or dozing under the tropical palms.