Alissa Jenkins heads to the latest luxury digs in Surfers… Well, she will if she can find it (NB: the Sea Temple is now called Soul Surfers Paradise, after being acquired by the Peppers Group)


It’s a rocky start. Lapping up and down The Esplanade of Surfers Paradise, shouting my best Lara Bingle “Where the bloody hell are ya?” impersonations at the GPS, my introduction to the newest Sea Temple hotel is not as smooth as I’d hoped.

This is the third addition to the Sea Temple kingdom in Australia, a brand that so far has relied on the pillars of resort-style luxury and seclusion to tempt guests – and I’m curious to know just how they’ve managed to translate that offering in the middle of Australia’s glitziest metropolis.

Eventually, I work out that a sign for ‘Soul’ – a recent multi-million dollar development, which houses the hotel along with a new retail centre – is the closest indication of how to enter Sea Temple from the street. At least they’ve got the ‘seclusion’ part down pat. (Street signage is still coming, I’m later told.)

But while there is not much to indicate the hotel exists from the outside – aside from a huge 77-storey tower erupting out of the precinct – the interior is much more defined.

Marble and glass dominate the design. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows make the most of the hotel’s prime location, taking in views across a bustling streetscape to the renowned beach. A winding marble staircase takes centre stage, elaborate light fittings hang above and antique-inspired chairs add an extra luxe touch. The colour scheme is quite reserved, made up of neutral creams, beiges and browns, but make no mistake – this place is glam.

The muted colour scheme continues in my one-bedroom apartment on the 23rd floor. Happily, the place is filled with natural light beaming in from large sliding glass doors, which lead out to a private balcony overlooking the Surfers coastline. The open plan design features a full kitchen, dining and living area in one, complete with home theatre system, plush lounge and stylish furnishings that combine to create a sleek, sophisticated feel.

The bedroom is cosy but lavish. A king-sized bed dominates the space, flanked by another sliding glass door to the view-hogging balcony. A second flat-screen TV is mounted opposite the bed head, and a glass wall separates the bedroom from the ensuite. On the opposite side of the glass is a spa bath so guests can soak while watching TV or lapping up the outside view.

A second bathroom is accessed from the main living area, as is a laundry, and after an obligatory snoop it’s time to check out the rest of the hotel’s facilities – namely the pools.

I throw on one of the robes provided and there, in one of the white fluffy pockets, is the low point of my stay. An old tissue. That is not mine. Erggh! I’m sorry, but a previous guest’s dirty anything is flat-out unacceptable in the hospitality industry, let alone in a hotel of this calibre. Admittedly while all new establishments experience some teething problems, Sea Temple has been operating for almost 12 months now – there is no excuse.

Disgusted, I put on a pair of trackies instead and try to forget about it while doing a few laps of the infinity indoor lap pool.

On a brighter note, the facilities here are rather impressive. Next to the infinity pool is a plunge pool and spa, followed by yet another pool and spa set up outside, overlooking the beach.

Guests can also make use of a sauna and steam room, gymnasium and outdoor barbecue area. Meanwhile the rest of the Soul precinct is made up of retail stores, restaurants and cafes.

My faith in the temple now somewhat restored, I return to my room to freshen up and crack open the complimentary champagne and chocolates that have been waiting in the fridge. Bliss.

Dinner soon springs to mind but I’m informed that being a Sunday, the hotel’s new Seaduction Restaurant + Bar is closed tonight. Headed by executive chef Steve Szabo, it opened in February and has already been awarded one hat at the 2012 Queensland Good Food Guide Awards. Alas, room service it is.

I order the seared Atlantic salmon fillet with a roasted beetroot, fennel and pepper risotto and within 20 minutes it’s delivered by a smiley staff member. Delish!

Satisfied, I head to bed, nuzzle in to the soft linen and enjoy a deep night’s sleep.

The next morning the tissue debacle feels like a bad dream and I bounce down to Seaduction for a promised breakfast. It satisfies all necessary requirements (namely coffee, food, coffee and coffee), but considering the hotel’s central location I’d probably check out one of the many surrounding cafes next time.

Still, after a good night’s sleep and the requisite caffeine dosage, I don’t move from my beachfront table for a good while longer.

Sea Temple at Surfers upholds the name of its sister stays with convincing panache, so you can safely add it to your Gold Coast hit list… if you can find it, that is.


What’s the gossip?
[The bigger apartments] are modern, elegant and indulgingly comfortable lodgings, perfect for any length of stay.”
–The Courier Mail, Qld

The AT Verdict
Alissa Jenkins, who paid her own way and visited anonymously, says:
Although there are still some teething problems here, overall it’s a luxurious, contemporary, beautifully-appointed stay, right in the heart of Surfers.

The Details
Where: 8 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise, Qld
Notes: For a one-bedroom, beach view apartment, prices start from $279 per night.
Contact: 07 5635 5700. See Soul Surfers Paradise

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