The Gold Coast rediscovers its glitter

The Goldie – as its affectionately known – has been giving itself a facelift.

By Bryce Corbett
There was a time – not so long ago – when the very mention of the two words, Gold Coast conjured images of schoolies, bikini-clad meter maids, Cavill Avenue and a place where theme parks reproduced like rabbits – and where, if you looked hard enough, you’d still find the odd white patent-leather shoe-wearing property developer.
This was, after all, for so many years the jewel in Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson’s shiny Queensland crown. The place where unfettered development in the seventies and eighties saw Surfers Paradise transform from a sleepy beachside haven to the Glitter Strip it likes to call itself now. Back then, it was all sunscreen, vice and family package holidays.
Thankfully, there’s still plenty of that, but a wholesale gentrification of the place has been going on in the last five years. And as China’s booming tourism market turns its sights on its sunny beaches, the local property market shows signs of recovery and the Commonwealth Games prepares to descend, The Goldie – as its affectionately known – has been giving itself a facelift.
Nowhere is that more evident just now than at Jupiters. The once-tired casino complex at Broadbeach is undergoing a refresh: with a new name (Star Gold Coast), a new look and a raft of new venues designed to transform the old girl.
Physically, this means a $345 million refurbishment of the hotel complex – including a make-over for the hotel rooms themselves. The newly-renovated executive rooms – which command sweeping views of the coast, Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast hinterland – have been given the full American Hustler treatment. Think tones of bone, ivory and off-white (a nod to the late Richie Benaud?) off-set with teal (surely a contender for 2015’s colour of the year) and silver alloy accents. It’s a David O.Russell film come to life – and it’s exceedingly comfortable.
A newly renovated penthouse room.
The penthouse's outdoor terrace.
Downstairs, the transformation is complete with a brand new restaurant – the Garden Kitchen and Bar. In the space where the dark, ye olde English pub The Prince Albert used to be (whatever were they thinking?) is now a bright, open, naturally-lit café-restaurant.
The fare – while not especially remarkable – is at least fresh and served up in wholly-agreeable surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling windows give on to an open deck and bar which spills onto a palm-fringed lawn. Clean white tiles are off-set by maiden-hair filled water features and banquettes primed with palm-covered cushions.
It’s all enough to make you forget that only metres away punch-permed seniors are sitting dolefully at poker machines, wittering away their pension cheques.
The real culinary star in Jupiters’ new orbit however is most definitely rockstar chef Chase Kojima’s offering, Kyomi.
In only a year of operation, it has garnered all manner of awards, including a prestigious Chef’s Hat – and you only have to pull up an artfully-hewn wooden seat to discover why.
Robata kingfish, wagyu tenderloin, tea-smoked duck breast and inventive takes on sashimi-classics (including snapper, white soy and witlof; salmon tartare with avocado and crispy skin; and cuttlefish, prosciutto and squid ink) take diners on a gastronomical adventure.
Chase himself – who also runs the celebrated Sokyo at The Star in Sydney and whose talent in the kitchen was honed both by his sushi-restaurant-owning Japanese father in San Francisco and his extended stint at Nobu in the US - will tell you he’s all about reinventing Japanese classics.
“Dining has to be an event,” he says. “Japanese cooking is traditionally very light and clean, and that’s great. But it doesn’t have enough hooks. I like to sex it up a little. I like to take it, put some make-up on it and take it out on the town. I want my food to zing a little bit.”
And zing it most certainly does. His dessert, Kiyomi Tropica (chartreuse and coconut infused tapioca, tropical fruits and lychee sorbet) is a tastebud tingler.
Outside the casino, beyond the evolving new pool deck with it’s South Beach Miami feel, is a building site where all eyes on the Coast are currently trained.
A tower is taking shape which will house Star Gold Coast’s brand-spanking new six-star hotel. It’s an unapologetic play for the cashed-up Chinese gambling brigade – and something of a line in the Surfers’ sand in Gold Coast luxury accommodation.
Already the second-biggest employer on the Goldie after the local council, Jupiters’ owners, The Star Entertainment Group (formerly Echo Entertainment), have also just been awarded the contract to build Brisbane’s $2billion Queen’s Wharf casino complex (or Star Brisbane as it will be known) – a development which, when completed in 2022, is set to re-shape both the city’s skyline and nightlife.
Follow the Star as it tracks north, people.

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