Paradise Resort turns 40!
The Paradise Resort story starts in November 1981. Back then, the Glitter Strip as we know it today looked very different – while there were very few high rises, the opening of Grundy’s and Dreamworld in the same year cemented the Gold Coast as the ultimate destination for family fun.
Originally named Ocean Blue, the original resort featured 409 rooms and an onsite bakery, hairdressing salon and nightclub (yep, you read that right!).
A favourite accommodation option for sporting groups, families and couples seeking a romantic getaway, Ocean Blue offered something for everyone. So coveted was it, it featured as the major prize given to contestants on the popular 80s TV series ‘The Perfect Match’ hosted by Cameron Daddo.
Almost two decades after it first opened, Ocean Blue was acquired by the hotel management chain Accor as part of a 10-year management agreement. The deal saw the resort rebrand as the ‘Mercure Resort’ and officially transition toward family accommodation – with this came the installation of the first Gecko Kids Club in Australia.
When this 10-year deal came to an end in the mid-2000s, the owners at the time decided to operate the resort independently and, after a rebrand, Paradise Resort Gold Coast was born.
Things changed again in 2010. Paradise Resort was purchased by a Melbourne family, the Zagames, who invested a whopping $6 million over five years into the refurbishment of the waterpark, outdoor pool area, guest rooms and facilities. This included the installation of Australia’s first hotel-based ice skating rink (known today as the beloved Planet Chill).
In 2015, the resort changed hands once again – though this time, it was earmarked for demolition as part of the sale to the Ralan Group. The Group aspired to build four towers on the site, set to be called The Ruby Collection, but by July 2019 these plans had fallen through. Yep, Paradise Resort was up for sale once again.
That’s when our current owner, Dr Jerry Schwartz, stepped onto the scene. As Australia’s largest private hotel owner, Dr Schwartz had the vision and the means to give Paradise Resort a new life – a mission he has been committed to since the final settlement on February 29, 2020.
The resort relaunched with a large charity event, a fresh vision and a $12 million plan to bounce back and ensure Paradise Resort retained the title of Australia’s favourite family resort.
Of course, everything changed in March 2020. The global pandemic known as COVID-19 forced the resort to close its doors for the first time in its 40-year history, but not even a worldwide catastrophe could stop Dr Schwartz from pursuing his dream.
We made use of the downtime to commence a much needed, long overdue $3 million makeover, with General Manager David Brook engaging the team with opportunities to ensure their skills could be repurposed around the resort. Think chefs on paintbrushes, housekeepers working in the gardens and kids’ club attendants cleaning out the waterpark.
We saw firsthand the power of positivity and resourcefulness and were able to turn a terrible situation into something good. We engaged local trades to commence the larger renovation projects, to ensure we were ready to reopen with a new vision and an inspired team on September 1, 2020.
It’s impossible to choose just one favourite memory from our long and colourful history. We have hosted the likes of Shane Warne, Dave Hughes and Shannon Ponton for their family holidays, plus plenty of NRL and AFL players over the years. We have also had many guests return years later with grandchildren in tow, eager to show their offspring the same fun family holiday they had enjoyed in their youth.
We count every smile on a child’s face as they walk through our doors, every delighted squeal as the big bucket dumps out water in the water park, every ‘first’ (first family holiday, first time ice skating, first meal without the kids) as being among our favourite memories. They are what keep our team smiling.
With over 10 staff who have worked here for more than 20 years – including one staff member who has been here for 33 years in 2021 – there’s no denying that this isn’t just an incredible place to stay, but an incredible place to work, too.
We love coming up with new ways to keep our guests entertained, whether it’s our soon-to-be-opened adults only pool and lounge bar, or our additional kids’ facilities (think a children’s carousel, dodgem cars and bungee trampolines).
In 40 years, the passion and dedication from our amazing team has never changed – we call them Holiday Heroes for a reason. No matter what challenge is thrown their way, they are the people that keep the Paradise Resort vision alive, whether it’s by listening to feedback, adding that extra special touch or embracing every family who walks through our doors.
In November, it’s the people of Paradise Resort we’ll be celebrating.