Planning your next family holiday? Appease the troops with our roundup of the top three family-friendly hotels in Queensland
How do you please everyone on a family holiday? This has long been an almost impossible question to answer. Sometimes the children are difficult to entertain, sometimes a sullen teen makes it plain that they would rather be anywhere else, and sometimes you’re left wishing you’d opted for that couples-only holiday package after all.
But perhaps that’s because you’ve never considered holidaying in Queensland. The Sunshine State lays on year-round temperate weather, and with Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, Tropical Far North Queensland and the Whitsundays all within easy reach by air, Queensland offers up plenty of options for sun-seeking travelling families. Where to stay? We’ve rounded up our favourite hotels for family holidays in Queensland to ensure you’ll return to your 9-to-5 relaxed, refreshed, and ready to tackle that overflowing inbox.
Sheraton Grand Mirage, Port Douglas
Best for: Beach holidays with young children
Positioned along the famous Four Mile Beach, this five star resort offers a secluded, relaxing stay within easy reach of many of the area’s popular attractions. Recently upgraded rooms, suites and two, three and four-bedroom villas lie nestled amongst meandering saltwater lagoon pools, 147 hectares of tropical garden and an 18-hole golf course.
The 20,000 square-metre network of swimmable lagoon pools – some hidden, some beachside – will keep kids happy, and parents can supervise from one of the private (and pre-booked) poolside cabanas. Young bellies are easily satisfied at the swim-up bar, which serves everything from pizza to Barramundi spring rolls. Alternatively, Feast Restaurant (and its more upmarket sibling, Harrisons) is open from midday – Feast also serves a colossal buffet breakfast. Starwood Preferred Guest members with children aged four to 12 years can access an all-inclusive SPG Kids Pass, where kids eat for only $30 per day. These complimentary memberships are easily obtained online or at the front desk.
Families or larger groups requiring a little more than just interconnecting rooms, can opt for the two, three and four bedroom villas with fully equipped kitchen, laundry and private terrace. A range of renovated guest rooms and suites sleep two to four people, some with direct lagoon access.
The Port Douglas township, with its boutique shops, restaurants and ever-popular Sunday markets, is only a short walk along the beach – as is the Flagstaff Hill lookout, the Port Douglas viewing spot famed for its sweeping beach and mountain vistas. Also within walking distance is the local marina, the departure point for day trips out to the Great Barrier Reef, with various offerings of watersport activities including whitewater rafting, parasailing and kayaking. The resort’s tour desk will happily organise other family outings to locations such as Mossman Gorge, Kuranda Park and the Daintree Rainforest.
Sofitel Brisbane Central, Brisbane
Best for: A sophisticated city stay
Sofitel Brisbane Central is ideally located right in the heart of the city. Set above Central Station, the hotel is within walking distance of almost everything in the city – Queen Street Mall and Roma Street Parkland are only 15 minutes away, with Suncorp Stadium and Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre also nearby.
South Bank Parklands is just a brisk 20-minute walk, on the other side of the river, and is a hub of weekend markets (with more than 80 vendor stalls), gardens and alfresco dining. Free children’s workshops are run here every morning from 9am, offering classes in gardening, science, music, art and sport. When the sun is shining – which is almost always guaranteed in Brisbane – the Sunday Sessions on the Green fill those evenings with live music, lawn games and trendy food and drink.
The Club Sofitel Lounge (accessible to those guests staying in Club rooms), on the hotel’s 30th floor, is a great place from which to relax and admire the cityscape, enjoy a drink and play board games before dinner. High Tea is served here from 1-3pm daily, or 2-4pm in the Cuvée Lounge Bar (for an additional fee of $48 per person). Three dining outlets present delicious a la carte and buffet options, and with 24-hour room service, an outdoor swimming pool and a full service spa, there are more than enough amenities and services to keep everyone happy.
Children under the age of 11 years stay free when in the same room as their parent or guardian, and adjoining rooms can be requested at the time of booking. The Sofitel’s Magnifique Family Package offers a second room at 50 per cent off, with complimentary breakfast for the children when accompanied by paying adults. An indulgent kids’ bubble bath, complete with a signature Sofitel Frankie teddy bear, can be arranged on request; bedtime hot chocolate and warm milk and cookies are also available. Sofitel Brisbane Central
Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa
Best for: Action-packed family fun
As far as family holidays in Queensland go, it’s impossible to look past the Gold Coast’s sunny beaches and must-visit theme parks and attractions.
Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa is brilliantly situated close to the Gold Coast’s iconic three kilometre-long Surfers Paradise Beach, and within minutes of local attractions such as SkyPoint Observation Desk, Infinity Attraction and the Wax Museum. The light rail station is only 300 metres away, and Gold Coast theme parks, including Wet ’n’ Wild and Sea World, are all within an easy half hour drive.
The resort’s 216 air-conditioned rooms and suites, ranging from the standard room to the palatial Presidential Suite, each have private balconies overlooking the ocean, the Surfers Paradise skyline or the Gold Coast Hinterland. Bedecked with ponds and waterfalls, the Marriott is resort pool heaven: the swimmable saltwater lagoon features a false beach, whirlpool and even an artificial reef brimming with more than 300 tropical fish. A daily teens program, free for hotel guests, includes scheduled activities such as snorkelling, tennis, basketball, soccer, self defence classes and video game sessions. Other activities like bowling, mini golf and kayaking, are all within one kilometre of the resort. Families are welcomed at the Australian Trivia held on Saturday afternoons, and bikes are available for use on the various nearby bike trails. A Kids Club for younger children is also available at an additional charge.
The Gold Coast’s main drawcard for families with children is, of course, the theme parks. Attractions such as Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ’n’ Wild, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, the Australian Outback Spectacular and Paradise Country are all within a 30-minute drive of the resort. Harbour Town, Australia’s largest outlet shopping centre, is just 15 minutes north by bus or light rail; and the open and airy Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, with more than 400 stores, is within 10 minutes of the resort and offers a free shuttle bus. Whale watching is especially popular from November to May, and numerous operators run daily tours out of Surfers Paradise.