I first went to Jupiters Hotel & Casino with my grandparents 18 years ago. My grandparents used to escape the chilly Sydney winter every year and spend a month or so holidaying on the considerably warmer Gold Coast. During a University semester break in 1994, I took the train up to Broadbeach to enjoy a relaxing Queensland holiday. At that time, the concept of a casino in Australia was a relative novelty - Jupiters formally opened as the Conrad Jupiters in 1986. I remember being mesmerised by the flashing lights; this was an adult world of entertainment that seemed exhilarating.
Fast-forward to the modern day and recently I was required to attend a conference at the venue that had captivated my younger self all those years ago. But times have moved on; Sydney's Star City Casino, since its opening in 1995, has been a fixture of the harbour city. Currently in the news are reports of James Packer's bid for a second casino in Sydney. Not to mention the fact that Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin all now boast casinos.
Given the changing climate, I asked Rebecca Myers, the Public Relations Executive for Jupiters how they manage to remain relevant in today's national entertainment landscape.
"Here at Jupiters we maintain the freshness with a series of redevelopments and redesigns. In total we've set aside around $350 million. The gaming floor was redeveloped in 2006 to offer double the space - there are 100 gaming tables and 1,400 machines. In 2008, our 594 superior hotel rooms and their accompanying bathrooms were all refurbished," said Rebecca.
"And take this entrance lobby - we recently placed this lovely milkwood panelling. The entry is now much lighter."
Aside from the gaming floor and hotel rooms, the centrepiece of the entertainment venue, that's received considerable attention in recent years, is the theatre - which was expanded from 1200 seats to around 1900 seats. The renovations began in September 2011 and the $20 million facelift was officially unveiled in March this year. Around $1 million was spent on sound and lighting equipment alone to ensure perfection.
"Our theatre can now be considered a world-class venue. We've since hosted Michael Bolton, Tony Bennett, Seal and Kelly Rowland," said Rebecca.
"It even has its own scent now. We experimented with several and decided upon the fragrance you can smell. The Jabbawockeez have been extremely successful as our first resident stage show and I'm loving the Tap Dogs now that they've started their run."
When announcing the renovations, Jupiters Acting Managing Director, Craig Peachey said, "Jupiters is all about creating exceptional experiences for our visitors and we are committed to contributing to the development of the Gold Coast as an entertainment hot spot with a diverse range of the best national and international acts."
Certainly walking through the lobby into the spacious atrium and onto the plush red carpets of the theatre's foyer is an impressive approach to a performing arts venue. The stairs descend past the pre-show and interval bars and into the auditorium; where the rows of seats fan inwards to focus attention onto the stage proper. For guests invited by the casino, there's an exclusive private box that includes personal bar staff. Now I'm convinced that Jupiters are determined to again re-insert the wow factor back into their venue.
As Rebecca continues the tour through the complex, she proudly enthuses that you can find everything under one roof. There are seven restaurants and eight bars including the Atrium Bar, which I'm informed is a venue institution. There are fantastic conference facilities, which are dubbed the Pavilion Convention Centre and business services for corporate travellers. Floors 17 to 21 contain the executive rooms and luxury suites, which each boast a sun terrace that offers amazing views of the ocean and hinterland. Guests who stay in these luxury rooms receive their own dedicated check-in desk. Rebecca and I walk past the gym and out to the swimming pool, where native water dragons welcome our arrival.
To attract new clientele to the casino, the venue organises pool parties during summer, which are modelled on the famous Vegas-styled revelry. I asked innocently whether Prince Harry had attended a Jupiters' Pool Party, to which Rebecca replied, 'no,' but big name performers in recent years have included Flo Rida, Snoop Dog, Salt n' Pepa and Vanilla Ice.
While I would love to dive straight into the pool, my participation at the conference is required, so I take my time to wander back to the Pavilion convention wing of the complex, resolute that indeed Jupiters Casino is one the country's premiere entertainment venues.