Family Travels

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Tips for families to rediscover the Gold Coast

Tips for families to rediscover the Gold Coast

If I left it to my kids to decide where to go on summer holidays each year, we'd probably end up on the Gold Coast on an annual basis. Possibly even a bi-annual basis. I don't of course, which is why we haven't been for a couple of years. And when I made the announcement that this was their year, the screams of excitement were probably actually heard on the sunny Queensland strip.

The trouble with theme parks on the Gold Coast is that there are so many of them. So when you only have a five-day window and the kids can't fathom leaving one or two off the agenda, it means you're up for an extremely busy time and it'll probably end in tears. Mine I expect.

So this year I've done my research. You can never fail to achieve your objectives if you plan well. I plan to feel like I've been on a holiday at the end of this week, rather than needing another one. Here are my recommendations.

Tip one:

Choose your accommodation well. Obviously look for a good deal, but it's well worth paying a little extra for a larger space so when you flop down on the sofa at the end of a hard day's queuing you each have enough personal space.

I recommend an apartment. In fact I can be more specific than that: I recommend an apartment at Peppers Broadbeach. These beautiful two- and three-bedroom apartments opened in November 2010 and it seems to me that more thought has been put into the design, amenities and service provided here than anywhere else I've stayed in Australia.

The pads include a well-appointed kitchen, laundry, two bathrooms, free Wi-Fi (possibly a first for Australian hotels — wake up the rest of you!), free iPad for the duration of your stay, Nintendo Wii, DVD player and a selection of DVDs, computer games and board games.

There are also surfboards and boogie boards available at reception and kids' activity packs on arrival. What have they missed? I can't think of anything.

Also recommended, is the brand new Hilton Surfers Paradise or Sea Temple's soaring beach-front tower.

Tip two:

Discuss (and agree) in advance which parks you plan to visit and plan your itinerary for each one. Have a discussion with your kids about "compromises" so that everyone understands that this is a family holiday and it is not possible to please everybody all of the time.

This means that if I agree to go on the 'Giant Drop' with my 13-year-old son, he has to agree to wait patiently while my nine-year-old daughter goes on the Runaway Reptar Rollercoaster.

And really, if I agree to go on the Giant Drop with my son, they ought to all understand that I will be retiring to my room at the end of the day with a bottle of shiraz and a book, not to be disturbed until the following morning.

Tip three:

Do a bit of research into avoiding queues. Dreamworld has a wonderful invention called Q4U — for an extra $10 you can use this little Tamagotchi-shaped device to reserve your place in the queues of the more popular rides.

It's also a good idea to purchase your tickets in advance so you can use the express entry gates to the park and avoid queues at the entrance. Also, plan an itinerary each day covering your chosen rides and wind through each park in a logical (and energy-saving) way.

Tip four:

It's smart to split up, especially if you have kids of different age groups, but once inside, make sure to designate a meeting spot in case anyone gets lost. Write your mobile phone number on the arm of any young child.

Tip five:

Obviously an apartment's a great choice with kids as it saves you the expense of dining out every night, but it's a good idea to treat yourself to at least one night off. The Hard Rock Cafe is not far from the apartments and the kids love the atmosphere, burgers and fries. The food is served by a team of waiters that appear to love their jobs and the mood is catching, making a great way to round off a day.

Follow this plan of attack and you really can't fail. Unless of course you forget to go to buy that bottle of shiraz.

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