I haven't had much time to update the blog while traveling through Australia, but I simply had to write about this. Today, I arrived in Gold Coast and took the public bus up to Surfers Paradise, where I had booked a one-night stay at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa. An award night costs a hefty 30,000 points (Category 6), but since typical rates run about $200-$300 USD per night, I thought it was a passable redemption in terms of value.
I walked through the beautiful grand lobby and approached the reception with my large backpack as usual, and made some chit-chat with the friendly agent. I find that checking in at a nicer hotel while looking like a dirty backpacker typically generates one of two extreme reactions: disdain and annoyance, or genuine interest in where I've been and where I'm going. This lady definitely fell into the latter category. She asked about my month-long trek through the country, and what I thought about Australia so far.
Finally, she smiled and quietly said that she had given me a complimentary upgrade to an Ocean View Executive Suite. At first, I didn't really register what that meant, so I just said thank you and went on my way. When I arrived at my room, I was absolutely stunned. I have never received an upgrade beyond the usual "higher floor" or "better view" room. This was simply unbelievable. She upgraded me to a one bedroom suite, with one and a half baths, living room, dining area, two double beds, a walk-in closet, etc. After getting settled in, I made sure to go back downstairs and thank her profusely.
Even more amazing is the fact that I am not a Platinum or Gold Elite Member, but a lowly Silver Elite. Even without the crazy upgrade, I was already impressed with the list of benefits, including complimentary in-room WiFi, late checkout, and 15% off all dining at the resort. I almost never eat at the hotel when traveling, but I made an exception this time because I was kind of in awe of this place. Of course, I will be writing a full review in the forthcoming Australia trip report, but in the meantime, here are some pictures.
Living room and dining area
A walk-in closet... in my hotel room. WTF.
From the balcony
From the other balcony
Saltwater lagoon on the lush resort grounds
Surfers Paradise beach