The boss of the Gold Coast’s newest luxury hotel says the city needs exclusive beach clubs on the sand to lure wealthy travellers from rival international destinations.
General Manager of The Langham and Jewel Residences, John O’Shea, tackled the enduring controversy of commercialisation of the Gold Coast’s 45km of beaches at the Bond University Business Leaders Forum.
“We've got miles and miles of beaches here but if we want to compete with other beach destinations like Hawaii, Spain and many parts of Asia, we need to make them more accessible to luxury travellers,” Mr O’Shea said.
“If you want to have a chaise lounge and a cocktail at the beach, I think you should be able to do that.
“It’s a pretty obvious thing to do.”
The Gold Coast City Council approved a three-year beach bar trial at Broadbeach in 2022.
Mr O’Shea said The Langham’s year-to-date figures were strong but guests expected the luxury experience to extend beyond the beachfront resort’s rooms, bars and restaurants.
“There's no luxury experience on a beach, and that’s where people want to be,” he said.
“The Oceanway has been fantastic but if you if you're going north, there's only things to do on the left-hand side. If you're going south, there’s only things to do on the right-hand side.
“I really think we should have restaurants and bars and places to sit on the beach and open it up.
“Not every beach – and there needs to be very careful consideration of the environmental impact.”
Also taking part in the panel discussion were the CEO of Queensland Airports Amelia Evans and General Manager of Seaworld and Seaworld Resort, Sanjay Bhatia.
Ms Evans said the 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games were a huge opportunity to market the Gold Coast internationally but first the city had to define its image and build transport infrastructure.
“Who is the future market that we're trying to sell to?” she said.
“How do we make sure the diversity is there to get everyone who wants to travel, travelling to the Gold Coast and Brisbane and southeast Queensland, because it is a collective.
“What is the legacy infrastructure that needs to be invested in - everything from road networks to light rail, heavy rail - anything to make it easy for people to come and stay.
“If we can find a way to take that collective approach and talk about what we're offering when you're here, how you get here, is it easy, I think we've got a huge opportunity ahead of us.”
Mr Bhatia said environmental sustainability would be a key driver of tourism in the years and decades ahead.
“We need to build and move forward in a manner that is sustainable, that is environmentally friendly,” he said.
“The largest group of people who are going to be travelling, those in their 30s and 40s, they are very aware of the environment and sustainability.
“And so you're developing a luxury product without changing the environment. It's difficult.”