InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Review

Gold Coast luxury resort

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Stand in the lobby of the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove and look past the fountains, Roman rotunda and swimming pools into the lush tropical gardens and you’ll immediately understand what makes this place special.

The setting of gushing fountains and green foliage wrapped around a grand Queenslander manor-style home are the distinguishing features at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort that sets it apart from the competition.


Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove resort

InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Review

Does the Great Gatsby live here?

I call it a “home” because there’s a distinct feeling that the resort was designed as a playground for the wealthy and famous.

Yet, the 25-year-old resort exudes a down-to-earth grandeur with such grace and style you instantly feel relaxed.

As I wander through the gardens, Scot Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby pops to mind.

I can just imagine Jay Gatsby (or Leonardo DiCaprio, for that matter) throwing open the doors and strolling down to the marina or golf course or having a party around the beach lagoon pool.

If Jay Gatsby lived in Queensland, I would pick InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort as the kind of place he would choose as his main home.

Also read 40 things to do in Queensland and things to do on the Gold Coast.

Check the latest prices for InterContinental Sanctuary Cove here

Sanctuary Cove International
InterContinental Sanctuary Cove gardens.
Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
InterContinental Sanctuary Cove boating lifestyle.

High tea at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove

A spread of coffee-inspired goodies is hard to resist at The Fireplace restaurant in the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort.

First, the waitress brings out a trio of tasty finger sandwiches and serves them onto our plates.

There’s a beetroot-cured salmon with baby cos and Spanish onion sandwiched between cream cheese and caper spread charcoal bread.


And smoked beef strip lion with triple cream brie cheese from Witches Chase in Tamborine Mountain, gherkin and red onion and apple relish.

high tea spread at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove
High tea at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove
Sanctuary Cove International
Food at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove
cakes at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove
Sweet treats at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove

My favourite is the Applewood smoked chicken garnished with baby spinach and fruit chutney. Yes, please, we’ll have second helpings.

A sip of my Espresso Martini (elegantly served in a long-stemmed cocktail glass) and I’m floating in coffee heaven.

After a couple of smoked pumpkin scones, a dainty fruit tartlet and a bite of the coffee custard eclairs, I’m so full I’m sure I’ve left no room for the Earl Grey macarons and Espresso lamingtons.

High Coffee at the InterContinental is a new experience that distinguishes InterContinental Sanctuary Cove from a host of other Gold Coast luxury resorts.

The Fireplace is also open for dinner and there are plenty of other restaurants within walking distance in the Marine Village.

I caught up with InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort’s Food and Beverage Director Roberto Salicio, who worked in London before taking up the position in Queensland.

Check the latest prices for InterContinental Sanctuary Cove here

What about the service at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove?

The staff at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort are friendly and helpful.

The concierge team is on the ball and eager to help with most requests.

I caught up with Head Concierge Christian Espino to find out what happens behind the scenes to keep guests happy.

Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove resort

Watch this video interview with Christian for a peek inside InterContinental Sanctuary Cove


What about the rooms at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove?

Most of the 243 guestrooms have views of the canals and gardens.

Rooms are stylishly furnished, comfortable and spacious.

The Manor Suite is the best room in the house.

It has its own dining table for eight, a small kitchen, lounge, four-poster bed, spa and private sauna.

Check the latest prices for InterContinental Sanctuary Cove here

Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove

What’s there to do at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove?

Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove resort golf
Playing golf is one of the top pursuits at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove
Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove pool area
The beach and pool at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove

For a relaxing time, InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort is pretty self-contained.

Fancy a hit of golf? The Palms, Sanctuary Cove’s championship golf course, recently had an $8.8 million overhaul by international designer Ross Watson.

Have a massage at Champions Day Spa, wander down to the marina and check out the boats, have a game of chess on the giant chess board in the garden or relax on the man-made beach by the lagoon pool.

Sanctuary Cove is a waterside community and the Marine Village has a decent selection of boutiques, art galleries, cafes and restaurants.

There’s a chocolate shop and a Village Theatre.

What can be improved at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove?

Sanctuary Cove is in the northern end of the Gold Coast and about 21km to Surfers Paradise (about 30 minutes driving time).

This isn’t a problem if you have your own car but as the resort doesn’t have a shuttle bus, getting into the heart of the Gold Coast is a fairly hefty taxi fare.

The Bottom Line

High Coffee (Friday and Saturday from 12:30 pm) costs $35 per person including a coffee or tea. Espresso Martinis are extra ($10) and Chemex coffee is also an extra $10. Parking is complimentary (valet parking $15 a day).

Check the latest prices for InterContinental Sanctuary Cove here

Interview with the Concierge

Chief Concierge at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort and a Member of Les Clefs d’Or Australia, Christian Espino was born in Manila and has lived in Macao, Hong Kong and Melbourne.

He has been a concierge for 16 years and has worked in hospitality for 23.

Here’s a peek into his world, including tips on Gold Coast places to visit.  

Best thing about my job is…

I still believe I have the best job in the Gold Coast!

For me, it’s having the opportunity to make a difference for our guests – it can be as little as a casual mention of a milestone. And there’s a huge opportunity to create something truly memorable during their stay.

Biggest challenge?

In my experience, it is the challenge of satisfying and exceeding guest’s expectations.

As guests are of very different backgrounds, cultures and their purpose of visits, we should be able to tailor make and personalise the services required by our guests.

Having said that, these challenges make our job exciting and invigorating – we’re constantly having to stay on top of what’s happening in the area, being culturally award and innovative in our thinking.

What does it mean to be a Member Les Clefs d’Or? 

Being accepted to the Les Clefs d’Or and wearing the golden keys is the highest honour a Concierge can achieve in their career.

Aside from having worked in the industry for five consecutive years, an invitee/applicant (‘invitee’ because future applicants are invited by the society to apply but their entry to the society is not guaranteed) must have been in a Chief Concierge position for three consecutive years or have been an Assistant Concierge for three years, working under a Les Clefs d’Or Chief Concierge.

You must provide letters of introduction from two active Les Clefs d’Or members and letters of references from major industry sources.

You have to attend an interview conducted by the Interview Committee of Les Clefs d’Or Australia.

It’s a challenging and rewarding process!

How to become a concierge?

Working in the hospitality industry is not a job, it’s a lifestyle.

Passion and genuine interest are crucial components for success.

If you possess those qualities, you are half way there already.

Patience, commitment (!), great organisation, high attention to detail, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and excellent communication skills will be crucial to work in hospitality.

It’s a competitive industry so the commitment and persistence piece is key; and network!

Working in hospitality requires you to give a lot of yourself, but the rewards are gratifying.

First impression of InterContinental Sanctuary Cove?

Paradise!!! Tranquil, peaceful, calm and soothing to the soul!

Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove waterfront

A typical day of the Chief Concierge

List of things to do after starting work:

  • I start at 5.45 am after a handover from the overnight manager.
  • I sign on and pick up the master keys, pager and radio; check arrivals and VIP list.
  • Then I walk and check the lobby area.
  • I have a brief with the bell captain on the day’s activities and movements such as arrivals and departures.
  • I check emails including handover from previous night’s Concierge and take action on any pending tasks.

I drive around the Resort on a golf buggy to check on anything or anyone that may need attention, be it guests or just general maintenance that needs reporting.

Around 8:30 am I take centre stage in the lobby to greet and meet departing and arriving guests.

I love to chat and take the time to speak to our guests to enquire how their stay is and offer any assistance they may require.

The rest of the day is spent taking requests via phone calls and email, assisting guests or giving directions.

Each day is different and it depends on operational demands.

I may finish around 5 pm and if my day’s work is done earlier I might grab a drink or two with work colleagues or hit some balls at the driving range.

I have a team of close to 20 team members that includes Bell attendants and Concierge plus two supervisors.

Most stressful moment? 

While there hasn’t been anything of late, what can be stressful is when our guests do not get the service they expect – although, thankfully this is a rare occasion – particularly from unforeseen circumstances.  

The opportunity is it stretches ones’ imagination on how to serve and please our guests.

Staff at the Resort are empowered by our General Manager, Monique Harmer, to resolve any guest issues they may encounter regardless of your role and title.

Proudest moment?

Just recently, I managed to pull off an engagement proposal on 24 hours’ notice, on a public holiday, with a long list of requests from the guest.

This is the time where good relationships with your network of contacts come to play.  

Most common requests you get from guests

Golf bookings; restaurant reservations; giving directions; booking theme park tickets; arranging engagement proposals has been very popular recently; massage bookings; hair appointments and the list goes on…….

Favourite spots in Sanctuary Cove?

The prawn trawler St Omer docks in the Marine Village is definitely a favourite.

I like to grab a kilo of freshly caught large prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc from the Village Cellar and sit on the grass whilst enjoying the sunset.


Once you’re in InterContinental Sanctuary Cove, you could literally be anywhere in the world.

It is peaceful and tranquil yet a short walking distance from the Marine Village with an abundant choice of restaurants, cafes and boutique shops for the shopaholic.

To me, it’s the epitome of accessible seclusion.

Is there anything you would love to change?  

None at all!

Where do you hang out? 

Paradise Point Esplanade is an awesome spot to chill out.

Restaurants and cafes abound in the area with waterfront views and the esplanade parklands are popular for picnic and barbeques.

Paddleboarding and kayaking is popular here and so is fishing which I also love.

A game of golf at Sanctuary Cove on my day off is something I always look forward to as the scenery is absolutely awesome… if only my game was the same then I’d have a perfect day!!!

Best Gold Coast places to visit?

1- Theme Parks – Aside from the sun, sea and surf, Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks

places to go in gold coast
Dreamworld, Gold Coast. Photo: Mark Toia

2- Tamborine Mountain has got it all, stunning views, beer brewery, cheese factory, the Skywalk, macadamia and avocado farms.

places to go in gold coast
Tamborine Mountain. Photo: Murray Waite & Assoc.

3- Rainforest walks at Springbrook, O’Reillys and Tamborine National Park are delightful.

4- Surfers Paradise for iconic beaches, beachfront markets, surf club dining, shopping and surf school.

Best coffee on the Gold Coast?

1- Daark Espresso

I personally like Daark Espresso in Musgrave Avenue in Chirn Park.

Daark Espresso serves speciality coffee (single origin from Congo is a personal favourite) and fabulous delectable food for breakfast and lunch.

A must try is the chorizo potato and herb croquettes with poached eggs.


2- Paradox Coffee Roasters

Paradox Coffee Roasters in Surfers Paradise is a true coffee lover’s haven, it’s housed in 4217, the old bus terminal in Surfers Paradise.

3- Dust Temple

Another must-try is Dust Temple in Currumbin Waters. This distinctively unique coffee and espresso bar (Hinge Art Gallery) is certainly a sight to experience!

It houses awesome thought-provoking art pieces partnered with great coffee makes it a memorable experience.

Coffee in eco-friendly takeaway cups is from Fonzie Abbott roasters and cakes of the day are also available.

4- The Fireplace

And, of course, there’s our very own The Fireplace inside InterContinental which has launched the incredible High Coffee.

It’s a first for the region and the espresso martinis are worth the stop!

Best Gold Coast places to eat seafood? 

1- Oskars on Burleigh

For an overall seafood dining experience, I recommend Oskars on Burleigh where seafood is impeccably fresh and innovatively presented with stunning views to match.

I have never been in a restaurant so close to the sand and water.

Insider tip: A dish which is not on the menu but if you ask the wait staff nicely, surely they would be happy to oblige.

The Oskar prawns, the batter has coconut and macadamia served with curry mayo, is to die for.

2- Gold Coast Fisherman’s Co-op

Fresh seafood from the Gold Coast fishermen’s coop offers probably the best and freshest seafood in town.

Straight from the sea, to the boat then to the customers is the only way to get the freshest seafood money can buy.

Large eastern king prawns, Balmain bugs, spanner and sand crabs plus squid and octopus are the main catch and can be bought live or cooked.

A must visit in the Gold Coast.

Best Gold Coast shopping? 

Pacific Fair

An awesome shopping destination is Pacific Fair.

This is a shopper’s paradise and recently relaunched following an extensive refurbishment.

Yes, definitely shopping is your main purpose here but dining in the variety of restaurants cafes and bars is hard to beat.

The customer service is second to none as Thomas McIntyre and his team are ready to assist shoppers and tourists at any time.

The shopping complex has its own tourist office and its services include free wifi, mobility and stroller hire, pharmacy and medical services, currency exchange, group tours, luggage storage for overseas visitors and parent’s room in all the restroom facilities in the complex.

A visitor can expect high-end European brands such as Chanel, Ferragamo, Prada and Louis Vuitton and local Australian designer brands as well. 

Interview with Director of Food & Beverage

At the age of 20, Roberto Salicio moved from Madrid to London, where he worked his way up the hospitality ladder.

His first job was a steward, during the days when dishes were washed by hand. He has worked at InterContinental London and The Dorchester.

Career highlights include winning the Manager of the Year award at The Dorchester Collection in 2012 and being shortlisted for the Restaurant Manager award for the Cateys award in London.

Here’s a peek into his world at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort in Queensland.

intercontinental sanctury cove
The Fountain Terrace

What are your impressions of Australia?

I arrived in September 2015, so almost a year now… So far, so good!

Australia is an amazing place for children to grow-up; the outdoors activities and friendliness of the people have made the move really easy.

We feel at home already!

My daughter Natalie is three years old and my son Liam is 18 months.

How long have you been working in hotels?

I have been in hotels since I was 20 years old… wow, 17 years in total!

I started from the bottom.

My first job was actually as a steward and back in the day, we were washing all the dishes by hand!

I then moved into a waiter position and a few years later joined South Bank University in London where I graduated in International Tourism and Hospitality Management.

I’ve been very fortunate to spend most of my professional career to date in incredible London hotels.

I have held all sorts of roles throughout the years such as Bar Manager, Restaurant Manager and F&B Manager until I reached the Director position.

I had a wonderful opportunity working on the opening team of InterContinental London in 2005 and then moved across to The Dorchester.

What’s the best thing about your job?

Director of Food & Beverage, InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort

For me, I love that every day is truly different – I could not imagine working a standard Monday to Friday office job.

The industry talent is inspiring and there’s always the need to innovate our F&B offering that keeps me on my toes – the new high coffee was a first for our region and a great example of the diversity.

Roberto Salicio
Chefs at The Fireplace
Roberto Salicio
High Coffee

What are your biggest challenges?

Roberto Salicio
The Fireplace – chefs

Balancing the needs of the hotel with the wellbeing of staff.

We are almost 100 employees between front of house, kitchen and stewarding.

It is important that employees are engaged and happy at work and at home.

Balancing life and work in hotels is not always easy!

Do you have any advice for young people seeking a career in hospitality?

You need a genuine love for this industry if you want to succeed.

The key is to have a better understanding of the operation at all levels and it does require time and patience until you have a sound knowledge.

Also, do not expect to learn solely at work, you need to develop yourself out of the working hours to differentiate.

What was your first impression of InterContinental Sanctuary Cove?

I was amazed by the facilities the guests can enjoy at InterContinental Sanctuary Cove – our very own one-acre lagoon is certainly an impressive sight!

The Fireplace restaurant was also something that in all my years of work I have never seen; everything is cooked in front of the guest using our own wood-fired oven and open mise en place.

Roberto Salicio
The Fireplace – setting

Describe a typical day

I could honestly say I don’t have a typical day in my role!

That said, the first thing I always do is read the handovers from the events held the night before to make sure everything went smoothly, and then see what is happening on the day and ensure all parts involved are prepared.

Roberto Salicio
The Fireplace

I will also meet other departments to align our needs, as hotels are big families and we all rely on each other.

What is your food and beverage philosophy at Sanctuary Cove?

First and foremost, my team and I have a commitment to supporting local suppliers, using locally-sourced produce and fresh ingredients for an authentic experience.

With this, our philosophy lies in the experience – guests love the open mise en place and wood-fire oven for a sense of drama and authenticity.

Guests can interact with the chefs and sommelier in the open restaurant at The Fireplace, or get involved with the buffet displays in Cove Café.

We infuse the art and theatre to create a dining experience, not just a meal.

What do you love most about Sanctuary Cove?

For me, it’s the people.

I immediately felt like I was being welcomed into a family and the combined staff knowledge is phenomenal.

We have staff who have been here since the Resort’s opening in 1988!

Besides the culture, the Resort grounds are second-to-none.

It’s easy to forget you’re only 45 minutes from the Gold Coast.

We have the one-acre lagoon, exclusive access to championship golf courses and – quite breathtakingly – we have kangaroos and joeys who roam the grounds.

Is there anything you would change? 

Public transport is an issue not only in Sanctuary Cove but in the Gold Coast in general.

Differences between working in London and the Gold Coast?

London and Queensland are both leading tourism hubs, although they are hard to compare.

The pace is one of the most notable differences.

London has a much faster pace and a culture where people dine out late.

The location of InterContinental Sanctuary Cove allows us to have a greater emphasis on seasonal produce and local suppliers and it tends to be less formal.

London, especially in five-star hotels, has a slightly greater focus on fine dining and international cuisine.

Where do you hang out on your day off?

I love Currumbin Creek.

It’s the ideal place for parents with young children and the water is crystal clear and not too shallow.

Currumbin Creek
Currumbin Waterways. Photo: Peter Lik

Where would you take friends and family?

Currumbin Creek is a must for trips with the kids.

Springbrook National Park would be on the list for its incredible views of the Gold Coast – it’s set among trees so old, you will never find in Europe.

Tamborine Mountain is another of my favourite spots; apart from the scenery it has great restaurants (some of our local cheeses come from the area) so it’s great for a day out with good wine and food.

Best spot for a good coffee on the Gold Coast?

Actually, this recommendation came for my previous executive chef.

I must admit other than us I really like Saturday’s Miami High School markets, the coffee served by Daniel and his company Noego is fantastic.

What’s your favourite restaurant on the Gold Coast?

This is a very political question….well, of course…..The Fireplace!

Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Concierge Interview

intercontinental sanctuary

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Christina Pfeiffer Travel Writer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.