Sanctuary Cove is about a 45-minute drive north of the Gold Coast airport. Opening in 1986 with five days of celebrations that included performances from Frank Sinatra and Whitney Houston, Sanctuary Cove was designed as a community where you could live in a resort-styled setting.
Sanctuary Cove features two 18-hole championship golf courses, a 300-berth marina and a Country Club with a fitness centre, tennis courts and 25mtr heated lap pool. There is also the Marine Village that sits on the water’s edge and contains the Cove’s commercial, retail and dining precinct.
The 5-star hotel built within Sanctuary Cove is the Intercontinental, formally known as The Hyatt Sanctuary Cove. I last stayed at the Intercontinental around 15 years ago when it was The Hyatt. For this visit I was returning with my parents, my four sisters and eight of the 12 grandchildren. In total we were booked into seven rooms.
Once you drive into Sanctuary Cove, the roads are paved with bricks and most residents beetle along in golf buggies. Arriving at the Intercontinental is impressive. The brick road leads to a grand and elegant building reminiscent of a Queensland estate from a bygone era. The entry foyer has wooden flooring with in-laid Persian carpets, large sandstone fireplaces, a grand piano and tall vases of flowers.
The hotel has around 250 rooms and to get to them you leave the main house and walk through well-established tropical gardens to accommodation blocks that are no higher than the canopy of the gum trees.
The hotel has a lot of water features that lead from the main building to the resort pool and then beyond it to the one-acre salt-water beach pool. If you don’t like to swim there is the golf course or you can attend the gym or play tennis at the country club.
The rooms have been upgraded since the resort opened and feature an entry foyer, parquetry flooring, a balcony and a bathroom with a separate bath and shower. There is a good range of toiletries provided from San Francisco company, Agraria. The lemon verbena soaps and shampoos have a very refreshing and calming scent.
Alfie and I shared a room that had two spacious and very comfortable double beds with white doonas. We were on the middle floor with other rooms above us and below us and we found our room whisper quiet. Our room opened onto a verandah with a wonderful view of the lagoon pool.
My sister, Lou, came with her three children and so she booked two interconnecting rooms on the ground floor. If you are travelling with children I would recommend the ground floor rooms as they open onto a level lawn area where Alfie and his cousins spent many hours playing and looking for kangaroos while we sipped on champagne in Lou’s room.
Buffet breakfast was included in our tariff and that was served over in the Cove Restaurant in the main building. The buffet was mostly western foods and there was an egg station where you could order your eggs cooked every which way however, eggs benedict isn’t on the menu. Every day they make a choice of two types of freshly squeezed juice which was definitely a step up from the standard cylinders of juice you see at most other buffets.
My biggest fret with travel is wi-fi and at the Intercontinental wi-fi is complimentary if you become a member of the hotel. Membership is free. I found the process of connecting to the wi-fi painless and the speed of the connection was also pretty good.
When we arrived I took a walk around the resort and I noticed the resort pool and spa are both now surrounded with glass fencing. I’m not sure why this has been done but I do think it’s a shame as having to go in and out of a gate to gain access to the water takes away from the resort ambience.
We spent our first day down at the lagoon pool. There are lounges to sit on that are set in the white sand however they are very low to the ground and a little difficult to get in and out of. Having done an intense workout at the gym the day before where I was left with sore and stiff muscles, I found the only way I could get into the chair was to fall into it.
What we did notice while at the lagoon is that the outdoor area is almost totally devoid of staff. There was no one around for me to find out where we might get a few towels so I had to ask another guest. She said they were in a locked cupboard and you had to use your room key to get the cupboard to unlock then help yourself.
There was a food and beverage bar between the resort pool and the lagoon pool however it wasn’t open on the Friday, but it did open on the weekend. We would have liked it if there had been some staff around to offer us menus and ask if we would like to order a drink however there didn’t seem to be anyone employed to do those things.
I don’t think the staff-shortage issue is unique to the Intercontinental, but have increasingly noticed this problem in a lot of Australian hotels and resorts. It’s become so expensive to employ people in this country that it seems when cost-cutting measures are implemented, the first thing on the chopping block are the staff.
On the Friday we ordered lunch from the Cove Restaurant and the staff brought it down to us at the lagoon pool. On another occasion we ordered lunch from the pool bar. I found lots of tempting options on both menus and both had a good selection of kid’s choices above the standard ‘chips and nuggets’. I also found the portions to be very generous and sharing one club sandwich with fries between two people was just fine.
Getting out and about around Sanctuary Cove is very easy. From the resort it’s just a five-minute walk to the Marine Village or if you’re already worn out from walking all over the resort, the staff at the concierge desk can drop you off and pick you up in either a buggy or mini-van. While fairly thin on the ground, we did find the staff at the concierge desk to be working at a very fast pace, be incredibly hard-working and very willing to accommodate our requests.
The Intercontinental is a five-star hotel that’s now around 30-years old. While there is evidence of a slightly dated feel to the resort (a lot of the hard landscaping is terracotta tiles), this is a resort that is well-suited to golf enthusiasts, those who like to relax by a swimming pool, energetic people who enjoy going for walks and playing sports, those wanting a bit of romance, or, if you’re like us, a family reunion.
Currently you can get excellent packages that include sparkling wine and chocolates on arrival together with breakfast in the Cove Restaurant for $270.00 per night and for a resort of this standard I think that’s very good value. I understand the new owners of the hotel have a plan to renovate the resort but it’s not really necessary to wait until then. As my little guy asked me, ‘Next time can we come for a whole week?’
Verdict: A great winter escape
Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove: Manor Circle, Sanctuary Cove, Australia 4212
Resort Direct: +61 7 5530 1234