Surfers Paradise is the "Miami Beach" of Australia. With a beach so good it annually hosts the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships, it's also the northern tip of the city of Gold Coast, which is a string of oceanside tourism neighbourhoods that attract up to 10 million sun-seeking visitors annually from all over Australia, as well as from farther afield. Approximately 60 miles south of Queensland's capital, Brisbane, Surfers Paradise forms one of the districts of the area's central business hub. Known to those who live there as simply Surfers, the city, almost completely surrounded by water, is a horizon of skyscrapers and Surfers Paradise MICE venues.
Also known as Coolangatta Airport, Gold Coast Airport (OOL) is the main airport, approximately 15 miles south of Surfers Paradise. It has service to all parts of Australia, as well as to New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Chief among MICE venues in Surfers Paradise is the lagoons-side Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, which is 2.2 miles directly to the south; it has among its facilities a 6,000-seat arena, 70,000-square-foot exhibition hall, and 18 meeting rooms.
MICE hotels in Surfers Paradise include the 411-room Outrigger Surfers Paradise, which has the Palm Ballroom and nine meeting rooms able to host up to 600 persons; the 388-room Watermark Hotel & Spa, which has four meeting rooms, a poolside tent, and a ballroom seating up to 300 persons; the 357-room Mantra Legends, which has six function venues, the largest able to cater to 300 persons; the 290-room QT Gold Coast, a cool, stylish place that has space for groups of up to 750 persons; and the 169-room Hilton Surfers Paradise, which has three meeting rooms and a ballroom able to host 350 persons.
Unique MICE venues in Surfers Paradise include Surfers Paradise Tenpin, a glow-in-the-dark bowling alley in the Cavill shopping mall that can host groups of up to 120 persons, and Racecentre, which has simulated race-driving courses with surround-everything—screens, sound, et cetera. In the surrounding mountains are O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, which includes the Moonlight Crag with an outdoor dining deck that sits on a 2,000-foot-high mountain ridge overlooking Lamington National Park; and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a certified wildlife experience with nonprofit status, thousands of animals, adventure park with a high-ropes course and indoor, outdoor, and tented event space, while just across Boobegan Creek from Surfers Paradise is The Arts Centre Gold Coast, which has a cinema, gallery, cafe, and seven function spaces, including a ballroom for 600 persons.
Restaurants in Surfers Creek include the iconic Four Winds 360°, which revolves atop the 374-room Crowne Plaza Surfers Paradise; The Avenue Surfers, which has an upbeat Brazilian theme and entertainment (after all, this is a party town); and Melbas on the Park, another high-octane, two-floor entertainment riot, but with good food (this is definitely straight out of Miami Beach's party notebook. Two quieter spaces are Temptations Restaurant & Bar, on the second floor of the Surfers RSL venue, which has function space in its Coral Sea Room for up to 300 persons; and, probably the best fare in Surfers Paradise, if not all of Queensland, Absynthe Bar & Restaurant, which is in the Q1 Building, has a cellar with 1,500 bottles, and is managed by a chef with two Michelin stars to his credit.