Thursday, January 17, 2013

They had us at heaven

We discovered the Paradise Resort on the Gold Coast quite by accident.

We’d tried to book into another resort on the Glitter Strip, but that accommodation spot’s online booking system wasn’t actually working.

And when I rang them to see if we could get the special online price by booking over the phone, the answer was no.

So we winged it instead.

Driving towards the original resort, which I'd hoped might honour our attempted booking anyway, we passed the Paradise Resort, Surfers Paradise, and the kids immediately squealed with delight.

“Is this the place Mum? Is it?” they chorused.

The colourful waterpark was what drew their attention, while the slogan ‘Paradise For Kids, Heaven For Parents’ caught mine.

That and the fact that I’d heard of the resort before and knew they regularly held specials.

We drove in, asked for and received a standby deal, and were soon relaxing by the pool.


I was relaxing by the pool, as the kids threw themselves onto the waterslides and into all the action of the water park, pool and spa.

And all thoughts of the original resort and their annoying online booking system glitch disappeared. The Paradise Resort had us at 'heaven'.

Since then we’ve had several mini-breaks at the Paradise Resort and always found it to be an ideal getaway for our little family.

At just a little over an hour’s drive from our Brisbane home, it’s stress-free as far as getaways go. There is no time for anyone to get car sick, and we're checking in before someone asks if we're there yet. 

Immediately, we switch to holiday mode. Paradise Resort is one of those self-contained places where you could be anywhere, but for the fact that Surfers Paradise beach is a short walk away if you fancy it.

Guilty secret: We never have. We’ve been quite content to hang out at the resort, because there is so much to do there. Or nothing at all. As you wish.

One of the highlights for parents is the Zone 4 Kids kids’ club. One free four-hour session per child is usually included in the room rate.

I have to admit that while this is and was a huge drawcard for me, my kids haven’t been fans. They’ve been to Z4K twice now: Once to a day session, and giving it another try with new-found resort friends, to an evening session.

Each time, they found the entertainment boring, the food ($8 extra) lacklustre, and asked the staff phone me to come and get them early.

The resort is soon to get a teen zone presumably to address this problem, as the younger kids seem to love it. 

No worries though, because my kids’ favourite activities are held around the pool, and involve supervised fun games like mini-olympics, jelly eating competitions, duck races, and ball throwing.

There are prizes like ice-blocks for the winners, and all that is required is for me to keep a lazy eye on the kids: Giving permission, supervising sunscreen, taking photos, praising jelly-eating prowess, and occasionally joining them for a water slide or a swim as required, much to their delight.

In between, I get to doze a little, read the paper or a good book, and spend time with the kids whenever I’m judged cool enough to be seen with. (Read: Their friends are dragged off by their own parents for Quality Family Time or sent to kids’ club so the grown ups can have some Time 4 Fun. Half their luck).

Until the recent arrival of the Southern Hemisphere’s first permanent resort ice-skating rink – a wonder we’ve yet to experience – the hotel’s main attraction was the main waterslide/play area. There is a separate area for older kids, and one for the little ones. There are slides, cannons, climbing nets, and giant water buckets for hours of splastacular fun.

There’s also a lagoon-style pool and spa for older kids and adults.

If you’re there on a Saturday night or on certain nights during school holidays, there are movies under the stars, where staff put out deckchairs, and you can order takeaway pizza, popcorn and hotdogs for dinner whilst watching family favourites on the big screen.

It’s all very relaxed.

A word of warning though: This is a family resort, so expect it to be over-run by kids and families having fun.

The rooms aren’t posh, the beds aren’t particularly comfortable, and there is no pillow service.

There is no room service either. The closest thing is ordering a pizza and soft drink deal and collecting it yourself from the bistro.

On each occasion, we’ve found the meals, except for the pizza, tired and uninspiring. We prefer to go further afield for fresh and tasty food, although the pizza is yummy.

On the plus side, the prices and serves are generous.

On each visit something has gone wrong.

On one occasion, Chase, then 11, was allowed to order himself and sign off on eggs benedict for breakfast whilst I was taking his sister to the bathroom. I came back to find him eating like a King.

If he’d asked me I would have allowed him to order a meal and it was reasonably priced. Plus, he ate the lot, but it was the principle of the thing. A child should never have been allowed to order and sign for a meal using room charge. And although the staff admitted the mistake, they did not refund the price of the meal, which surely would have been fair.

On the plus side, after my complaint, when my son tried his trick again next time, the server questioned his age, and did not allow it!

The Wi Fi, which is free around the pool, has only worked during one visit, so hopefully this is something they are working on.

On one occasion, we were upgraded to a Junior Bunkhouse room, and my goodness, these are worth the extra money if you can afford them.

The rooms feature a self-contained bunk area for the kids, which affords the adults – and kids – some privacy. The bunks come complete with TV and playstation for the kids, and a place for them to hang out.

There’s also a microwave and video/game hire, which is not included in standard rooms.

The resort is also working on a Chill Zone for teens, including fooz ball and snow boarding, so it’s likely to become an even cooler place to hang out with the family.

We never mind too much about the rooms – we’re only there to sleep after all – and are focused on enjoying the fun in and around the resort during our waking hours.

Another bonus, is that checking out but being allowed to stay on and linger to enjoy the facilities seems to be almost encouraged, which is lovely, allowing you to extend your stay that little bit longer.

We’ll be back.
There’s an ice-rink that’s calling our names, and I predict the atmosphere will be positively chilly.
And during Queensland's summer holidays, you've got to love that!

*Maid In Australia booked and paid for her own accommodation and meals at the Paradise Resort

A sneaky eggs benedict - but delicious and affordable at $11.50

A dip in the 'big' pool

A bit concerned that they have to remind guests that swimmers or swim nappies must be worn. Lucky they reminded us ... only kidding!

The kids loved the constant activities ...

Resort mascots Captain and Cleopatra gave Harmonie a warm welcome

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