During the long Easter weekend a few months back, our little family had a short getaway to one of Australia’s most popular holiday destination – Gold Coast! I have been meaning to blog about the trip much sooner but there was always something that got in the way. Anyway, as they say, better late than never. We only went for a 4-day trip, and being our first domestic vacation that required a flight, we, especially Little J, were particularly excited! Everything was pre-booked, from our airport car park, accommodation, car rental, travel insurance and of course, flights. Yes, even though it’s just a short domestic trip, there are lots of things to arrange!
There were plenty of flights from Sydney to Gold Coast daily, and I chose the 11+am flight allowing us enough time to drive to the airport, park, and take the shuttle to the departure gate. We left home at around 8.30am, thinking there should be plenty of time for us to get there since we only needed to be there about an hour before departure time. However, as luck would have it, Saucer missed a turn into the tunnel when we were about 10km away, and we were stuck in terrible traffic then! The traffic was so slow and clock was ticking (we found a stalled car in the middle of the road after ages!!), so needless to say, I was getting really worried about missing our flight! Also, because we wanted to save on the expensive car park fare, we had pre-booked to park at the Blu Emu car park which was a few kms away from the airport. We were also meant to take the shuttle from there to the airport, which meant extra time that would eat into our buffer. I think we eventually parked with about 45 minutes left to departure! We quickly removed all our luggage and a stroller from our car and ran to the shuttle, which was thankfully making its rounds just then, and just prayed for the best. By the time we reached the check in counter, we saw a message saying flight delayed for 30 minutes! Never was I so happy to see a flight delayed in my life! At that point, we heaved a sigh of relief and just continued queuing in our line.
After about 5 minutes or so, there was a ground staff walking up and down the line, asking if anyone was going to Gold Coast on a specific flight. It turned out to be our flight! So she asked us to move straight to the front of the counter and allowed us to check in straightaway. I love how the Australian airports operate – when it’s near the gate closing time, they would just give priority to whoever was still in the line queuing and allow them to check in first. I’d say I’d rather they do this than to keep everyone in the plane waiting!
Once we’re at the gate, Little J was curious with everything and sat on various seats just for fun. Thankfully, the flight itself was short, about 1 hour plus, so it wasn’t too tough to handle the toddler. We kept him occupied with iPad and snacks most of the time. Once we reached the Gold Coast airport, we had to call our car rental company for them to come and pick us up to their depot. It only took 5-10 minutes for them to arrive and their depot was less than 5 minutes drive away. So it wasn’t that much of an inconvenience for almost 1/3 of the price compared to rentals at the airport!
We stayed at the Meriton in Broadbeach, which was rated #1 in TripAdvisor. Unfortunately, our check-in experience was far from #1. We arrived at around 1.40pm and were told that our room would take about 20 minutes to be ready. That was fair enough because the standard check-in time according to their website is 2pm. I was hoping to get the room by then so that Little J could have his nap. However, more than 20 minutes had past and still no one came to inform us that our room was ready yet. I got a little annoyed and asked Saucer to check with the counter again. He was told that the room was being made up so we just needed to wait for another 5 minutes or so. Needless to say, 10 minutes passed and still no word. Worse, we saw people who arrived after us getting their room keys! At about 2.30pm I was getting quite frustrated because we had already waited almost an hour and still no room. The guy at the front counter told me that it’s going to need another 20 minutes (!!!) and apologised for the delay because we requested for a baby cot so that needed extra setup time. By then, we were hungry and tired and Little J was getting cranky too. Finally, at about 2.50pm, we got our room keys! Once we got in our room, what do you know? The cot was not even there!!! I was furious to be kept waiting for more than an hour, to be told that our room needed more time due to the cot, only to find that the cot wasn’t even there in the end. Anyway, no point getting angry at the start of the vacation, so I just quickly let Little J nap on the king size bed. The cot eventually only arrived when we were out for dinner, and only because I reminded them again by then.
Other than the sour check-in experience, the stay at Meriton was pretty pleasant to be honest. I loved how the rooms were kept tidy and modern, how the kitchen was so completely equipped with lots of utensils, gas cook top, range hood, microwave, oven, full-size fridge, toaster and dish washer! Basically, everything you need is there. The living room floor was still damp when we arrived, which meant that it had just been mopped minutes before we entered. The room’s bed was as big as a King-sized one, but it was really 2 king single beds joined together (a shame). Otherwise, the pillows and sheets were plush and comfortable. There was also a fully-equipped laundry room with a washing machine, dryer, laundry basket and detergent provided. It was so convenient because we were sweating every day from going to theme parks, so I could do all my smelly laundry before heading home!
Our room was situated on the 20th floor and boy, was it windy at the balcony! Saucer and I used to live in high-rise apartments back in KL and we never had problems with height. However, after a few years of living in a landed property here, suddenly we were terrified when we were standing at the balcony! LOL! We also made sure Little J never stepped out to the balcony because it just felt so open and insecured with the strong wind.
Another plus point with the Meriton was the proximity of the beach. It was merely a few minutes walk to the famous Broadbeach and we took a walk there before our dinner on the first night. The weather was nice and cool but not freezing in autumn. Little J was so happy to be walking on the super fine sand on the beach that he didn’t want to leave. Our only regret was not allocating more time to go to the beach during the day time because we spent most days at the famous theme parks in Gold Coast. Will write about them in the next few posts!