“This town is steeped in a rich tapestry of colourful history.”
The Gold Coast is not only built on a colourful past, it must grow to a brilliant future.
A former holiday ground for the Kombumerri people, since the 1860s the Gold Coast has been a place of big personalities. They were people who boldly defied the odds and broke away from tradition, turning a few heads in the process. They worked hard, but they were very ‘social’ people as well.
How do we acknowledge their contribution to the building of our unique culture? And how do we build a future that’s even better than our present?
The new voco Gold Coast has stepped up to do just that!
Following a multi-million dollar renovation, the former Watermark Hotel has been transformed and rebranded as voco Gold Coast, the first Australian hotel in a new upmarket brand created by InterContinental Hotels Group.
voco, which means ‘to unite and bring together’, is a concept-built hotel that traces the customer experience from their entrance and personal welcome to the hotel through their stay to their ‘voco life’, whether it be a quiet morning coffee, time out in the gym or swimming pool, catching up with friends over afternoon tea, or kicking off a great evening.
In referencing local history and in their sustainability measures, voco Gold Coast tells the story of our past while building its future, ‘uniting and bringing together’ past, present and future.
‘voco life’ begins the day with room service or at the Social House, an area that begins on one side of the hotel foyer with the Social House Café and retail area, extending through to a casual seating lounge and dining area, a chic urban bar complete with indoor and alfresco dining, an entertainment lounge, plus a gaming room hiding quietly in one corner!
It’s at Social House that we acknowledge former Gold Coast characters at play in large portraits on the walls as we join our own friends over tapas platters from the Clifford’s kitchen, cocktails and share plates in this anytime social dining venue ‘For lunch, dinner and everything in between’.
Wrapping around the eastern side of the ground floor, past Social House you will find Clifford’s Grill & Lounge. Married at the hip by a common kitchen, and with Waves Buffet right next door, the hotel’s signature restaurant completes the ‘C-shaped’ dining area that forms a multi-function social and entertainment hub, a unique precinct for Gold Coast diners.
Named after world class rower Thomas Clifford, Clifford’s Grill & Lounge is a classy open grill restaurant and upmarket city bar overlooking the central focus of the restaurant: the ten burner grill, where chefs are on display preparing meals. Opposite, one side opens out completely, giving full view of the Surfers Paradise streets and the G:Link station right outside.
The à la carte menu available for both lunch and dinner is three-tiered, using fabulous produce from land and sea: Small and Larger Plates, and Clifford’s Signature Sharing Platters supplemented by sides, desserts, cocktails and coffees.
It’s social dining at its best, showing the influence of organic, slow cooking and local sourcing philosophy; dishes are not pretentious or overworked but great ‘honest’ food. As diverse as the venue, the cuisine’s right on trend for capital cities around the world!
We dine on a meze board of Middle Eastern dips and house flatbread to share, Organic greens with quinoa, nuts and seeds, Seared Mooloolaba Yellowfin tuna with apple and fennel salad and yoghurt dressing, fall apart Slow-cooked sticky Bangalow pork glazed with kepak manis, garlic and just a hint of star anise, and a Char-grilled 1kg T-Bone sliced off the bone presented with three sauces: salsa verde, truffled mustard, chimichurri and signature jus It’s a hearty feast to share.
We chat to the voco Gold Coast’s Executive Chef Daniel Smith (ex-Stamford Plaza, Maldives and Indonesia) who is responsible for the menu. When asked about his food philosophy and the influences on the menu, he answers emphatically:
“I’m very proud that the food we serve is local. There are minimal food miles, as it’s sourced from a less than 200-mile radius.
I’ve travelled extensively and gathered recipes from my travels. I was given the slaw recipe, served with your chicken, by the American Ambassador’s wife! It’s just how she makes it for Thanksgiving. The pork recipe is authentic Balinese, and the Veal Milanese recipe was given to me by an Italian chef. My wife is Thai, so we cook an authentic Thai Pla Thod; fried fish, except we grill it here serving it with a sweet and spicy sour jam, herb salad, crispy shallots and fresh lime. Of course we have access to some better produce here as well. That makes a difference.”
“The Balinese pork has been cooked for five hours. Even the sauces must be authentic; it must have the right sauce! You can’t use Japanese soy instead of an Indonesian one; the flavours are different. Finally, as we put the dish together, we needed the lift of ginger and chilli; the detail’s really important.”
That same attention is shown in the dessert: an assiette of lavender shortbread served to guests as part of the hotel’s welcome, hyperlocal honeycomb from the hotel’s own hive, honey panna cotta with North Queensland mango and a housemade ‘hokey pokey’ decorated with chocolate and gold leaf.
One of the most impressive aspects of the new voco Gold Coast is their commitment to sustainability and waste reduction. This includes a commitment to cutting single-use plastic water containers in their rooms, use of recycled materials and a divided waste bin in hotel rooms, their own kitchen garden and bee hives and, amazingly, 100% recycling of green waste from the kitchen.
“We’re one of several venues working with the City of Gold Coast to recycle food waste,” says General Manager Brenden van Blerk. “We collect our green waste in biodegradable bags which the council then composts for use on its gardens. After the six month trial, it’s hoped that they can extend the program to produce enough compost to be able to sell to the public.”
Centuries ago, our forbears defined their own place in history just as, with a nod to the past and in full view of the future, the new voco Gold Coast, committed to a story that continues through time, is defining its own place in history right now.
“Icons. They can’t be manufactured, they can’t be copied, but they’ve all played a part in making us who we are today.”
voco Gold Coast, 31 Hamilton Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5588 8333
Clifford’s Grill & Lounge is open for dinner Tues – Sun 6pm – late; Lunch Fri – Sun 12noon – 3pm. Closed Mondays.
NOTE: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of voco Gold Coast and Clifford’s Grill & Lounge.
This is an updated version of the original 2015 review published on More Gold Coast.
CREDITS: Quotations from the venues’ websites.