Ever run into an old friend you haven’t seen in years and been amazed by how fabulous they look? That’s exactly how I feel when we walk into the lobby at the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. More than 25 years has passed since I ordered my first ever pina colada in the lounge bar but, unlike me, this five star hotel is looking younger and fresher than ever. With one of the world’s most iconic beaches only a short walk away, you would think it would be tempting to nip across the road for a swim. However, if you’re like our family, you won’t make it to the beach once during your stay. The JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa is the ultimate Gold Coast staycation hotel whether you live in nearby Brisbane or are visiting from interstate.
The unique water playground at this luxury resort remains the biggest drawcard for most guests, especially those with children. Spread over a hectare, there’s a zippy waterslide, tumbling waterfall, rocky grottos, multiple spas, a regular swimming pool, and a saltwater lagoon filled with tropical fish. Moon wrasse cruise around the deepest section, their colourful scales reflecting every colour of the rainbow, black and white clown fish gather near a rocky outcrop, and a school of bream hover near the base of the waterfall tumbling into the lagoon. Even better, the pool is heated so it’s possible to enjoy it all year.
This fantastic pool area is the perfect spot for kids to learn how to snorkel or they can zip around on one of the Sea Scooters which are available at the Watersports Kiosk. We hired one of these fun machines for an hour and shared it amongst our family of two adults and a teen and had an absolute ball. Masks and snorkels are also available for hire or you can bring your own from home. There’s no need to bring fins as the lagoon isn’t as big as the ocean so you don’t need to go far to see the fish. Sports equipment is also available at the Watersports Kiosk if you would like to enjoy some active family fun on the hotel’s sports court which has tennis, basketball, soccer, and hopscotch. Plus there’s the Family by JW activity program with options including Junior Mixology, Pizza Making, and a Mini Misono Sushi Class. These sessions are either free or $20 for activities like the pizza making which doubles as lunch or dinner depending on what time the session is on.
The pool is the jewel in the crown at the JW Marriot Gold Coast Resort & Spa and a lot of thought has gone into helping people make the most of it. It’s easy to spend an entire day here thanks to a tasty lunch menu featuring burgers, sushi, etc which can be ordered at the pool bar. Hot food is cooked in a funky retro Airstream food truck near the pool and there’s an attractive outdoor seating area shaded by palm trees or you can enjoy your lunch on a deck chair. Another option is to book one of the cabanas around the pool for a half-day rental (priced from $90 which includes two bottles of sparkling or still water and two cocktails). The cabanas were popular during our visit and large enough for two adults and a couple of young kids to fit on comfortably.
We stayed in an Ocean View King Suite with a rollaway for our teenage son. It was extremely spacious with plenty of room for the extra bed. If our son wasn’t 6ft 1” and didn’t hang off the end of a double bed, one of the Double Double rooms would have been good too although we did love the extra space. Our Level 24 balcony had beach views and also overlooked the pool so it was great for people watching. Hinterland View rooms are the most affordable room category with the hills of the Gold Coast hinterland, the sunset, and the sparkling lights of Surfers Paradise to enjoy. While the view from the Ocean View rooms is lovely, a Hinterland View room is equally nice in its own way and a great choice if your love of luxury hotels is larger than your holiday budget.
On our first night, we had dinner at Misono Japanese Steakhouse which is Australia’s largest teppanyaki restaurant with 19 grills spread throughout multiple dining rooms. Despite its impressive size, this popular Japanese restaurant frequently books out, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. The early seating at 5.30pm is a winner for anyone dining with young children. There’s even a simplified kid’s teppanyaki menu for under 12s with ice cream included for dessert. Our chef Romeo’s superb cooking and cheeky showmanship was a highlight and made for a fabulous family dining experience.
Buffet breakfast the next morning was less of a hit as our teen was keen to sleep in. We figured this was a win-win as it would let all the families with young kids get in early for breakfast and we would eat at around 8.45am after the rush. We didn’t notice the sign outside the restaurant which showed that when we were planning on coming in wasn’t the quiet time we were anticipating but the busiest period. Not surprisingly, there was a queue to get into breakfast and it was very busy inside. Citrique is a large restaurant that has more than enough space to accommodate everyone but COVID restrictions mean tables have to be spaced far apart. Once restrictions ease the queue at breakfast will be a thing of the past.
We were still full from breakfast so instead of lunch, we had a beautiful high tea at Chapter & Verse in the lobby. Featuring ingredients from in and around the Gold Coast and the surrounding hinterland, this was one of the best high teas I have had. Highlights included Hinterland tarts with mixed berries, Bangalow pork salami and truffle cheddar cheese brioche rolls, and light as a feather scones with local jams. The connection with the surrounding region at the JW Marriott’s restaurants reminded me there is a lot more to the Gold Coast than sun, surf, and sand. The food scene is fantastic with so many new dishes and local ingredients to discover.
Later that evening, we sat and listened to an acoustic guitarist on the outdoor deck at Chapter & Verse before heading into dinner at Citrique for their famous seafood buffet. There were mountains of prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, oysters, etc in the seafood section plus roasts, salads, cheeses, curries, rice, veges, and desserts including a ‘make your own’ ice cream sundae station. JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa is a standout for holiday accommodation which offers plenty of family fun and some of the best dining in town. Its chic décor, friendly staff, fabulous pool, and excellent restaurants make it a top choice for families visiting the Gold Coast. Just be warned, with so much fun to be had at the hotel you might not make it to the beach.
Disclosure: The writer stayed as a guest of JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa. She would not hesitate to dine at this hotel again at her own expense.
Looking for some things to do on the Gold Coast? Some of our favourite Gold Coast activities include hot air ballooning, whale watching, jet boating, visiting Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or David Fleay Wildlife Park, indoor skydiving with iFly, bushwalking in the Gold Coast’s national parks, SkyPoint Climb, exploring the Gold Coast’s markets, checking out the local cafe scene, and enjoying the Gold Coast for free. There’s also plenty of fun to be had if you visit the Gold Coast in winter or have some wet weather.