“Wait, huh?” This is what i mumbled as I walked into the foyer of Sea World Resort for the first time in over a decade. Back when it was known as Sea World Nara Resort (we’re talking many, many moons ago in a galaxy far, far away), I had actually spent quite a bit of time doing work experience at the hotel while I was finishing up my final years in high school.
I had seen my fair share of that place to be sure, both front of house and back of house, and my memory was that it was a solid hotel with all the trim but if you took the Sea World away from Sea World Resort, it’d be just another bog standard resort on the Gold Coast. However, to my surprise, much has changed in a decade. What was once an ageing beacon of Australia’s early 90’s Japanese tourism boom has reflourished into a modern, elegant destination resort that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that it is indeed a family resort.
Full disclosure, I didn’t stay in a standard room.
I’m not going to beat around the proverbial bush on this one – I stayed in one of the resort’s presidential suites, and it was glorious. I assume these are typically reserved for corporate clients or newlyweds. To say it’s a lush room is an understatement, I could quite happily live out the rest of my days on this planet in one of the three suites the resort has to offer (one of which has an enormous spa, sadly, I had to deal with a bath with jets, first world problems, huh?) I say this first and foremost because it wasn’t just a nice hotel room, it was a decadent, lush treat of sorts. The bed wasn’t just nice, I had one of the best sleeps 0f my life inside that room. Maybe it was the hypnotic crashing of waves outside (they’re shoreline rooms, a majorly unique drawcard for these particular rooms), or maybe it was the assortment of pillows, all I know is Kardashian derrieres aren’t as soft or inviting as the king bed that they picked for that room. For that reason alone i’d be tempted to make a return trip asap.
Alright, tell us a little more about the suite…
If you are looking for a destination to consummate your newlywed status and you want something unique yet distinctly Gold Coast, this is where you need to be. The suites are part of their own private wing, you’ll have more then ample opportunity to do, uh, whatever you like in peace. In my case, it was work (and it’s worth noting I was invited by Sea World to checkout enjoy the suite for unrelated reasons, lucky me) but by all means, don’t let the “family resort” vibe fool you, the second you open the door your focus will be on the incredible bathroom, the well appointed room and a view you that’s very, very hard to find anywhere else.
What I really admired was the decor and design of the room itself had an understated ocean vibe that didn’t openly scream “Sea World.” Instead, it trades a stereotypical nautical palette for something that’s almost not even apparent unless you go looking. Take the bedside tables for example, look a little closer and you’ll realise what you thought were just glossy tiles are in fact lacquered sea-shells. It’s these kind of touches, this kind of attention to detail that makes a visit memorable, even unforgettable.
Food, drink & resort itself
I didn’t get a chance to try out the waterpark, that’s definitely for the younger crowd, but I did have a solid walk around of the resort, try the lunch menu, checkout Hatsuhana (the resort’s Japanese restaurant) and even have a beer or two in the foyer and inside Sea World itself.
Speaking of, Kirin beer on tap? That’s a huge win. Solid caramel lattes? Fantastic. A cool vibe to enjoy them in? That’s a tough thing to perfect, but like so many other aspects of the resort, despite it being a lovely destination for families, you’d forget that the resort is just that, a family resort. It has a genuinely classy atmosphere while retaining a feel of accessibility and open-ness, that you can go and do anything and it won’t cost a small fortune to do it like other resorts on the gold coast. This was definitely my experience with Hatsuhana, it was by no means cheap or nasty, but the price I paid for the duck & truffle rolls was staggeringly affordable for what was some of the best sushi i’ve ever tried. Seriously, if you stay at Sea World Resort and don’t try it, you’re a crazy man. I heard people visit just for some of the dishes on offer and I can see why.
Stepping away from the resort briefly, I did manage a quick trip into Sea World itself to checkout the newly renovated Dockside Tavern. I thought i’d try something a little different and again I was surprised by this continuation of healthy, hearty and premium food offerings that I saw back at Movie World earlier in the year. I’ll touch on this in a seperate article down the track, but being able to pop out from my hotel room briefly to grab a clean bite to eat while watching dolphins chillax and do their thing is something uniquely Sea World, something you won’t find anywhere else.
Less puff, more chuff.
Wrapping this up, there’s no other way to put it then to re-iterate what I wrote at the beginning of the article. Before I stayed, I thought Sea World Resort was a decent enough hotel sold at a premium because of its unique location and proximity to Sea World. Instead, I drove away utterly chuffed by what’s got to be the Gold Coast’s best family resort that’s undeniably tough to beat because its greater than the sum of the parts that make it what it is. It’s an experience. The staff, the food, the room, the location – you should go because I already want to go back.