|View from our room|
In February, we had an super fun weekend away in the Gold Coast, staying at the deeply fabulous Palazzo Versace. It was an extravagant combo-celebration: belated birthday gift, Valentine's day, and general Treat Yo'Self indulgence. Hooray! This will be a long, picture-filled post.
We bought flights with Virgin Blue and booked a room directly on the Palazzo Versace website. However, friends of mine who've been before tell me that they sometimes have deals on Wotif and similar sites during non-peak times, so keep your eye out for those.
The weekend didn't start off on the greatest note, however, when the transfer car we booked through the hotel didn't show up at the airport. We waited at the pick-up point for about twenty minutes, then called the hotel to check up on it. The concierge didn't know exactly why it had happened, but explained that our transfer car booking had been lost, and arranged for a new car to pick us up, which was about another twenty minute wait. Not a great situation, but I was pleased they rectified it quickly! When we got to the hotel and explained it to the Guest Relations Manager at check-in, she kindly refunded the transfer fee. I thought this was very nice of her, and it put the weekend back on track. (Given that we weren't super delayed, I wasn't expecting anything more than an apology and maybe a free drink!) Importantly, she also confirmed the return transfer for us, and there were no problems with that - phew!
Let's have a look at the gorgeous room! We'd booked a lagoon room, which was comfortably sized (46m2) and had stunning views over the pool (see photo at the top of this post). I chose the lagoon room as I felt it struck a good balance between the more expensive larger rooms / suites with broadwater views, and the smaller rooms with less exciting views over the street or neighbouring buildings. It was so pretty, and I totally coveted all the fittings and accessories!
The bed was so incredibly comfortable, and I loved the fluffy fluffy doona! Such luxury. Indeed, all of the furnishings, upholstery, towels and toiletries felt very luxurious and well-made. You can buy some of the homewares through the website, but the range is very limited.
|Comfy, comfy couch|
Don't even think about stealing the towels! You are gently reminded that they are $180 each if one happens to find its way into your suitcase.
The turndown service came with these very glam lip-shaped raspberry chocolates. (You get two; I ate one before I remembered to take a pic!) Not only did they look cute, but they tasted fab too - the raspberry coating concealed a lovely smooth milk chocolate ganache.
|Choccies for turn-down|
The first day was quite overcast and windy - not pool weather - so I hit the gym in the afternoon. It was well-equipped, with cardio equipment, weights machines and an area for free weights. I liked the Versace-branded towels they give you as you walk in!
|Palazzo Versace Gym|
The first night we were there was Valentine's Day, and all the restaurants at the hotel were booked out. (Indeed, they'd all been completely booked out over a week before Valentine's Day, which is when I called to try and book spots at the restaurants for the weekend. Gah!) To be honest, I was quite annoyed at first, as I had been looking forward to trying Vanitas, and I couldn't see online if they had a room service menu, or if we'd have to venture out into an unfamiliar city on one of the busiest dining nights of the year.
In the end, we stayed in and ordered room service, and I'm so glad we did, because it was awesome! It felt like such a treat - when I was a child and used to travel with my family, my brother and I were strictly told: "No room service, no mini bar!"
The room service menu (not available online), is really great, and I was actually more excited reading it than any of the magazines I brought with me, haha. There's everything you'd expect to find on a room service menu (breakfasts, club sandwiches etc.), as well as slightly more fabulous options (sashimi platter, bucket of local prawns with Marie Rose sauce). Drinks-wise, there's a range of spirits and wines (by the bottle or glass), and you can even have a make-your-own-cocktail kit brought up! (I was very tempted!)
We ordered two meals, a glass of wine and a dessert to share, and it came in the appointed time (about forty-five minutes). The lady who brought it up said it was currrazy busy downstairs, so I think we really made the right choice by staying in.
Cute tray! The meals came with salt and pepper, warm bread rolls and butter.
|Glass of Palliser "Pencarrow" Pinot Noir (Martinborough, NZ) - $14.00 a glass|
|Grain fed Northern Rivers beef tenderloin with truffle whipped potato, ratatouille vegetables and peppercorn sauce - $39.00|
Sandra's fillet steak was just beautiful. She likes her meat well done, and it was perfect - cooked all the way through whilst still being moist and tender. She said it was one of the best steaks she'd had in a very long time.
|Versace Surf and Turf: grilled beef tenderloin, with a half lobster Thermidor, bed of seasonal vegetables, pepper sauce and silky mash - $55.00|
I went with the Versace Surf and Turf, an almost ridiculously extravagant meal of half a lobster Thermidor on a fillet steak! It was just delicious! The steak was cooked exactly how I requested (rare) and, well, what do I need to say about lobster Thermidor? Big chunks of fresh lobster in a rich creamy cheesy sauce? Yes please!
|Vanilla bean crème brûlée, served with Belgian chocolate sauce - $18.00|
The crème brûlée was great too - very rich and creamy with a thin crackly sugar topping.
I was surprised by how well-priced the meal was - we spent approximately $130 on the dinner for two (there's a $5 delivery fee for each order), which is similar to, or actually less, then what we would have spent at one of the restaurants downstairs. The food was excellent, and crucially, we got to eat it in our PYJAMAS. Amazing. I can't think of any restaurant in Melbourne where you'd get half a lobster on a steak for $55!
I was also really impressed with the breakfast buffet. We were warned when we checked in that there may be long queues as the hotel was at full capacity, but luckily we didn't have to wait too long on either morning. (In fact, on the first morning we got there early and were shown straight to our seats). On the second day, we arrived at a peak time and there was a short wait, but, the staff were really efficient - greeting us when we arrived, managing expectations of the wait time, seating us promptly when a table became free, getting coffee orders out, and clearing the table efficiently - all without rushing us or being brusque. Kudos!
|View from the restaurant|
|Breakfast at Il Barocco|
|Jams, sugars, milk|
|Il Barocco Breakfast Buffet|
There was a good mix of foods available: breads, pastries, cereals, cold cuts, salads, fresh fruit, juices, smoothies and hot items like eggs, bacon, hash browns, fresh donuts and super-fluffy pancakes. (I wonder if Donatella herself ever eats like this...?)
We spent the whole second day by the pool, having booked a "Sparkling Cabana Retreat". For $140, you get all-day cabana rental, a bottle of Cloudy Bay "Pelorus" sparkling wine, a fresh fruit platter, two 500 ml bottles of water, some Palazzo Versace sunscreen and a chilled face mist. (Which really is just cold water in an aerosol but is So Very Lovely on a hot day). If you're not interested in all the extras, you can book a cabana itself for $50 for the day. Either way, I'd suggest booking the cabana when you book your room itself, as they seem to get booked out very quickly. (Of course, there are lots of normal daybeds you can use for free, but they don't have shade and can't be reserved).
|View from the cabana|
|Cloudy Bay "Pelorus" Sparkling wine|
We also ordered some lunch - classic club sandwich and a chicken burger - both delicious.
|Classic Club with organic chicken, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato & mayonnaise served with chunky fries - $25|
|Spicy grilled chicken with tomato, jalapenos, avocado, Jack cheese & chipotle ketchup, served on a home-made bun with chunky fries - $27|
That night, we went back to Il Barocco for the seafood buffet. I love buffets (of course I do, I'm Asian), but rarely every go for them because they are expensive, and Sandra doesn't eat seafood so it's never really worth it for us to go. However, Il Barocco offers a non-seafood option too - yay! The Saturday night buffet was $89 for seafood eaters, and $69 for non-seafood.
The fresh seafood was very good (the Moreton Bay bugs, in particular, were divine), and whilst I was really excited about the sashimi, it wasn't sliced quite as delicately as I would expect. The hot options were great, especially the roast pork which had fantastic crackling.
Overall the buffet was very good, but not quite as good as the big buffets in the Melbourne hotels (e.g. The Langham, which I've tried previously on a complimentary PR visit). However, it is a bit cheaper ($89 at Versace as opposed to $105.90 at The Langham on a Saturday night), and the ability to do a non-seafood option is a definite winner in my book!
On our final day, we had a bit of time to kill after checking out and before going to the airport, so decided to indulge just a little bit more in some afternoon tea at Le Jardin. Le Jardin is Palazzo Versace's lobby lounge - there is a bar, and they also serve snacks and afternoon teas. It's a beautiful spot, don't you think?
However, if the breakfast buffet at Il Barocco was a model of efficiency, Le Jardin was, to put it bluntly, a total clusterfuck. It took ages to get someone's attention and be seated, we were sitting for a long while before someone brought us a menu, and after we'd finally managed to place an order, the food and drinks were extremely slow to come out, with the food coming out way before the drinks. (I could actually see our drinks sitting on the bar for ages before a waiter brought them to us). Luckily we had a lot of time so it wasn't too much of a problem, but I saw more than one table near us snap at the waitstaff to cancel their order because they'd been waiting so long.
I don't think this is the fault of the individual staff members themselves, who were all lovely and helpful (when you managed to get their attention!), but rather a poorly designed, disorganised system, which was chaotic and left all the staff run off their feet.
|Iced chocolate - $9.00|
|French fries - $9.00|
Sandra just had an iced chocolate and some fries, and I went for the full Couture High Tea, which costs $58 (on weekends) and gets you three tiers of scones, savouries and sweet treats, with a pot of tea. The menu said that on weekends there's a chocolate fountain with strawberries but this was no-where to be seen. I wanted to ask about it, but trying to track down a waiter seemed like way too much effort. Oh well!
|Couture High Tea - $58 (Saturday and Sunday)|
There were lots of great little treats on the tiers, and it was a very generous serving. (In fact, you could probably easily share the tier between two people!) I especially liked the sandwiches, the roast capsicum dip, the scones, the chocolate passionfruit mousse cake, and the salted caramel chocolate tart.
|Cake pop, mocha meringue, orange tartlet, raspberry macaron, chocolate passionfruit mousse cake, orange custard in a mini cone; layered sponge cake|
|Scones, double cream, cream with cherry jelly and raspberry sauce, salted caramel chocolate tart|
Olives and mini mushroom quiche in the background
And that was the weekend! Even though there were a couple of little hiccups, we greatly enjoyed our stay at Palazzo Versace, and would definitely want to visit again. So much luxury - we didn't even need to leave the hotel! I totally loved the gorgeous room, the poolside cabana and the amazing room service. It was really difficult coming back to reality!