All That Glitters
The Gold Coast is back on the radar, attracting high-calibre property projects, sparkling new marinas and a sprinkling of Hollywood glamour.
Like the majestic rollers that wash over the state’s golden beaches, a wave of luxury is cresting on Queensland’s Gold Coast, bringing a new sense of style and glamour to the Glitter Strip and beyond. And at the centre of this renaissance is premium property, reaching physically, and metaphorically, for the sky.
Of course, the national pilgrimage to the Gold Coast isn’t a recent phenomenon, but where visitors once came solely to worship at the altar of hedonism—à la Las Vegas—canny Australians, largely post-Covid exiles from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, are now seeing value in the sunny climes, easy access to the verdant hinterland and opportunity to invest in some of the country’s most luxurious new residences. Moreover, the region’s new lean towards high-living represents a psychological shift; gone is the cultural cringe once associated with “The Goldie”, replaced by a fresh tone of optimism, and affluence.
Adrian Parsons, Managing Director of Gold Coast-based project marketing firm Total Property Group (TPG), has seen the demand for high-calibre luxury homes erupt recently, a shift that mirrors the rise of co branded residences by the likes of Armani, Bulgari and Aston Martin around the globe.
His company are currently involved in marketing and selling a game- changing development, the Mondrian Residences at Burleigh Heads, scheduled to open in 2024. It sold out within five months of going to market. “The Mondrian is an international brand,” says Parsons. “It’s similar to what we’re seeing in destinations such as Los Angeles and New York where Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental and others are creating developments, where as a permanent resident you can tap into hotel-style services.” High-net-worth buyers have lofty expectations of this type of property, and developers are finally providing a product that meets their wishes.
In terms of projects, TPG have an embarrassment of riches on their books, including the 38-level Royale, due for completion in 2025, featuring six-star lifestyle amenities across its first two floors. Meanwhile, Escape offers apartments integrated with luxury services and design; Paradiso Place is a three-tower development encompassing an entire city block, with the first tower comprising 258 apartments. Parsons says each project has been a stratospheric success, with off-plan apartments and larger home-sized residences and penthouses selling rapidly.
In the beating heart of Surfers Paradise sits another of TPG’s aces in the pack, the billion-dollar development Jewel, again, in line with global trends, offering a co-branded residential experience. Studding the shores of the beach, Jewel is instantly recognisable by its three black, faceted residential towers, which are completely integrated with the adjacent palatial resort-style facilities of the five-star Langham Hotel—so much so, you can barely tell where the residences stop and the hotel starts. Thirty apartments from stage three of the project sold during October 2023, totalling $60 million in sales.
“Prestige property buyers recognise this as a unique opportunity and have been acting quickly to secure their apartments, to enjoy absolute beachfront with five-star amenities, including a fine-dining restaurant, a sophisticated lobby bar and beachfront café,” says Parsons.
Burly Residences, situated on the headland at Burleigh Heads, is another landmark TPG project, which like Jewel and the Mondrian Residences, has been designed as a hotel-cum-resort “escape hatch”, according to architect, the Japan-born Koichi Takada. “Burleigh is like Bondi Beach was 20-30 years ago,” says Takada. “If you go to the Gold Coast you have the beach, but you also have lots of things to do … shopping, restaurants, dining, entertainment, whereas if you go to the south coast of Sydney and Melbourne you get the beach, but you don’t get this amenity.”
The Gold Coast’s infrastructure is, helpfully, keeping pace with the speed of gentrification, thanks in no small part to the enthusiasm of a local council that incentivises development. Two marinas are due to be built before 2026, including one for superyachts at The Spit. The region boasts five modern hospitals, with a new facility currently being constructed at Tweed Heads. Higher education is well catered for at Griffith, Bond and Southern Cross universities. This abundance of facilities, coupled with the international airport on its doorstep, means the Gold Coast is luring a varied demographic—from cashed-up couples and power executives to start-up founders and parents with young families. Hollywood stars are taking note.
Kimberly Gardner is a Brisbane stylist with an illustrious, 30-year-long career working in film and editorial. She says that since Covid-19, the Gold Coast has dramatically boosted Queensland’s celebrity pulling power. “I’m often called to the Coast to style a lead actor’s press conferences or their media launches. This is happening more with each passing year.”
Indeed, Amal and George Clooney took up residence in the back roads of Tallebudgera during Covid-19 lockdowns, staying at the $30 million residence Bellagio La Villa, owned by Chinese billionaire property developer Riyu Li. On the city’s blonde sands, it’s not unusual to come across the likes of Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Pretty Little Liars’ Keegan Allen, Joel Madden, Nicole Richie and their families, just casually hanging out. Live on the Gold Coast and you may get used to seeing actor Annette Bening shopping at Max Mara in Pacific Fair, or one of the Hemsworth brothers emerging from the surf at Snapper Rocks.
Big-budget film projects from the likes of Paramount, Warner Brothers and Netflix are adding another coat of glamour to the Gold Coast’s changing visage; following his 2021 movie 13 Lives, in which south-east Queensland stood in for tropical northern Thailand, director Ron Howard is currently shooting his new project, Eden, locally. These days, it’s not unusual to stumble upon a wrap party at one of Broadbeach or Burleigh’s hipper bars. When not working, celebrities and locals alike have scores of celebrated eateries at their disposal, from Isoletto Pool Club at The Dorsett (coconut water and prawn cocktails by the pool, anyone?) to Pipit just over the border in Pottsville, offering a hyper-local approach to modern Australian cuisine. And any namecheck of Gold Coast gastronomic hotspots isn’t complete without the perennially popular Tropic, Rick Shores and Labart restaurants, all congregated around Burleigh Heads.
While the Gold Coast has always been a string of little villages joined loosely together to form a greater whole, fringe-dwelling suburbs that once languished, such as Coolangatta, Miami and Palm Beach, are now being treated to hipster makeovers, with coffee roasters, gin distilleries and poke bowl eateries gaining traction. The regional market update, CoreLogic, reported in September 2023 that Coolangatta home values surged 6.2 percent in the previous three months, followed by the Sunshine Coast Hinterland (5.8 percent) and Gold Coast North (5.6 percent). This upturn is being driven by strong internal migration, adding to the local population of 773,000. Art consultant Miriam Grundy and her partner Elliot Wheeler, a music composer for cinema, moved back to Australia from Los Angeles at the end of 2019 to work on a movie project. Only ever intending to stay temporarily, the couple ended up settling on the southern Gold Coast.
“I think for creatives, it’s the luxury of time and space,” says Miriam of the Gold Coast’s magnetism. “It’s a good culture to be making things in, or if you’re working in the music field, because there is a critical distance from the major epicentres such as LA and New York, but you are 20 minutes from the airport and one hour and half from Sydney or Melbourne. The difference is that on the way to the airport you pass echidnas and kangaroos.”
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