My wife and I failed, slumbering off within minutes, and our teenage daughters, surprisingly able to stay away from their mobiles for more than an hour, also succumbed, drifting blissfully across the sun-warmed lagoon without a Snapchat update in sight.
InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort and Pool
Relaxing on the resort’s half-hectare, palm-lined beach pool – yes, real white sand leads you into the eye-dazzling blue water – you might think you were in Fiji. However, this lush oasis of indulgence and family holiday beacon is situated halfway between Brisbane and Gold Coast Airport or just 45 minutes from each.
Parents will admire the grandeur and grace of the resort’s airy manor-house hub and its gushing fountains, luxuriant gardens and sweeping lawns favoured by grazing kangaroos. More importantly, what kids get is that all-important ‘wow’ factor when they arrive; that ‘Are we really staying here?’ exclamation that tells you you’ve picked a winner.
We ended up spending a lot of time in the deckchair-fringed lagoon pool, which is backed by yet another pool and an outdoor Jacuzzi, all eventual fodder for our teenagers’ social media feeds to impress their friends back home. Younger children will love the beach volleyball, the putting green and Sanctuary Cove’s Planet Trekkers Kids’ Club during afternoons and early evenings where they feed ducks, play on the lawn, paint and dance – all with refreshments included.
One evening we dragged ourselves out of the pool to dine at InterContinental’s signature restaurant, The Fireplace. We were mesmerised by the theatre of some of the most composed chefs I have ever seen prepare our meals right in front of us in custom-made, wood-fired ovens, the greens sourced from the resort’s own herb garden. The roasted orange roughy was mouth-watering, paired with local Granite Belt region Sauvignon Blanc. An experience to savour indeed. Alternatively, the more casual Cove Cafe serves hearty breakfast feasts and lunches.
Warner Bros. Movie World
The Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove is a destination in itself. But restless kids will be glad to know the Gold Coast’s notorious theme parks are just 15 minutes away.
The teens and I (unable to drag my ‘in-heaven’ wife away from her pool chair) head to nearby Warner Bros. Movie World to shake off the resort zen and replace it with sheer terror. How else do you describe the sight of soaring, plummeting, twisting rollercoaster tracks as you enter the ever-popular theme park?
We bravely decide to tackle the fastest coaster, the Superman Escape, which reaches 100 kilometres per hour in just two seconds, or the same amount of time it takes for my wife to drive to the shops. High on adrenaline, we knock off its brother and sister coasters in quick succession: the stomach-churning Arkham Asylum which reaches speeds of up to 85 kilometres per hour, the Green Lantern which boasts the steepest inverted drop in the Southern Hemisphere, the fun Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster which surprises hapless riders with backward drops in the dark, and the Wild West Falls, ideal on a hot day because you will get totally soaked in the 20-metre, 70 kilometres per hour splash-down.
It was all so much carefree fun! We repeat our favourite rides until we start feeling the side effects of all that motion and decide the resort pool is the place to soothe our frazzled bodies.
The next day, we head into Surfers Paradise, only 25 minutes away, to experience Gold Coast’s attraction, iFLY Gold Coast indoor skydiving, right in the heart of the city.
Kids as young as three can enter the giant, glass wind tunnel where a guide will help you experience the thrill of floating on air. The teens and I love it so much we do it four times. If your kids ever look at birds and wonder what it must feel like to fly, bring them here and they can finally find out.
A short walk brings us to Infinity, a mind-warping, sensory-challenging maze that immerses you in 20 ‘worlds’ filled with spectacular illusions, light effects and thumping music. The kids will love the chaotic craziness of it all while parents get to let their inner child go wild!
On our final day, after reluctantly checking out of the InterContinental (‘Can’t we stay another two weeks Dad?’), we head 40 minutes up the nearby ranges to Mount Tamborine to check out another new attraction in Australia’s premier family fun region: the Canyon Flyer.
The TreeTop Challenge park, the Canyon Flyer (minimum age is eight years) is an adrenalin-pumping series of ziplines up to 220 metres long across the rainforest-filled canyon of Cedar Creek. The guided, three-hour experience, which begins with a short 4WD trip to the start of the seven zip lines, sees you glide at 70 kilometres per hour, 60 metres above the bush, offering a truly thrilling experience that is certain to bond the family together.
Now back at home after our frolicking family getaway, we all daydream about being back at the lagoon pool where life was calm, simple and seemed to stand still. But precious memories of priceless time together will have to do until we plot our return.