BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Mix business and pleasure at SurfAir Marcoola Beach.
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Mix business and pleasure at SurfAir Marcoola Beach. Contributed

Surf's up to be meeting place

THE year was 1971 and on November 17, SurfAir opened its doors to become the first of the high-rises to be built on the idyllic beachfront at Marcoola.

It made its reputation as one of the closest accommodation houses to Sunshine Coast Airport for weary travellers, as a major local entertainment venue in the Eighties and as a family-oriented holiday resort with an absolute beachfront location.

The iconic resort has moved with the times and now has set its sights on making a name for itself as an exceptional conference centre.

Almost 40 years to the day since its grand opening and with the recent downturn in the leisure market, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific has chosen to focus on conference management.

Conference guests now make up about 80% of business at SurfAir Marcoola Beach.

While its share of the conference market has always been strong, the resort's new focus aims to continue the trend and extend its reach.

And with the easy access to Sunshine Coast Airport combined with the patrolled beach location plus excellent resort and conference facilities as well as efficient and friendly staff, every angle seems to be covered to meet that goal.

Six conference rooms of different dimensions with varying configurations are on offer at the resort.

The largest of the event rooms, the Spinnaker Room, is 1725sq m in area and seats almost 100, depending on the requirements.

A popular choice for Coast weddings, the room overlooks the outdoor pool area and offers easy access for outdoor dining.

The Longboard Room - the smallest room of the six at 39sq m - retains a quality of professional intimacy and is particularly suitable for board meetings and presentations.

All of the event rooms may be divided, depending on the configuration needed, and they all have data projector facilities and audio-visual equipment available.

Wyndham business development manager Aimee Manz said conference lead times had changed.

"Previously, it was generally an 18-month lead-up and while we are now taking some bookings for December 2012, just a few days ago we confirmed a booking for 80 to take place next week," she said.

"2011 is presenting a particularly late lead into Christmas. Companies are mindful of budgets and we are seeing a cutback from previous years.

"And so to counter this, we've put into place some special deals as a sweetener to encourage use of the resort.''

Aimee said one such offer was that when booking a minimum of 10 accommodation rooms, a function room would be provided for free.

She said SurfAir wanted to make high-quality conferencing its point of difference to other Coast resorts and hotels and towards that aim, attention to detail was the key.

"Take the oval tables we use," she said.

"They fit better, allow for easy conversation and no one sits with their back to the front of the room."

Many options are available for inclusion in conference bookings, such as a stage, dancefloor, themed room styling, team-building exercises (see story this page) and the availability of an in-house audio-visual company.

The permanent register desk central to the conferencing centre is invaluable for clients and will be even more productive when the new automotive message board goes up shortly.

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