‘Fairy dust’: How The Langham is revolutionising the Gold Coast’s luxury tourism scene 


Having only been open for a few years, The Langham Gold Coast has already made a name for itself amongst luxury travellers and locals alike. With their prime location, state-of-the-art facilities, and strategic brand positioning, it’s no surprise why. 
The Langham x Carolina Herrera afternoon tea. Image: Supplied

It is widely believed that Lady Bedford, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Victoria and a member of England’s high society in the mid-1800s, invented afternoon tea. 

The upper classes would typically have dinner around 8:00 pm, and with lunch at midday, Lady Bedford struggled to stave off her hunger before dinner, even complaining of a “sinking feeling” that would hit her late in the afternoon. 

To remedy this, she requested that tea and a small meal – likely consisting of bread and butter – be taken to her room around this time. 

This soon became an afternoon ritual for Lady Bedford, and the practice caught on among England’s aristocracy; Even Queen Victoria adopted the practice. 

At around the same time, the first Langham Hotel opened in London. 

Not only was it one of the first grand hotels in Europe, but it was the first to have faucets with running water and flushing toilets in the guest’s rooms, a very basic air conditioning system, and elevators – luxury accommodation looked a little different back then. 

A true innovator in the hotel scene in Europe, The Langham was also quick to jump on new trends emerging in the upper classes – which, of course, included Lady Bedford’s beloved ‘afternoon tea’. 

The Langham created a meal period for afternoon tea that started at around 3 pm. They served scones and sandwiches with pots of tea and played a significant role in the commercialisation and popularisation of Lady Bedford’s daily ritual. 

Since then, many more Langham hotels have sprung up around the globe, and the brand has earned itself a reputation for its luxury, style, and indulgent afternoon teas. 

Almost 200 years later and thousands of miles away, guests at The Langham Gold Coast in Australia are told this tale as they sit down to enjoy an afternoon tea of their own. 

In an afternoon tea partnership with Carolina Herrera, the Langham Gold Coast has made some significant changes to Lady Bedford’s simple snack of bread and tea. 

The exclusive experience celebrates the launch of Carolina Herrera’s newest fragrance – the “sweet yet sensual” Good Girl Blush Elixir. 

To mark the occasion, I am told that The Langham Gold Coast team spent months planning and fine-tuning a menu inspired by the Carolina Herrera fragrance – led by their executive pastry chef, Johann Vanier. 

At the afternoon tea, the lobby is filled with the sounds of live music and guests dressed in their floral bests mingling and drinking. 

A photo wall at the centre of the action is adorned with baby pink roses and features a bell with the words “ring for bubbles”. Like something out of a fairy tale, within seconds of ringing, a white-gloved hand appears from the photo wall bearing a chilled glass of champagne. 

The menu features sweet and savoury delights, all inspired by the Good Girl Blush Elixir. 

From the coconut-glazed black sesame and mandarin sphere to the Australian Bay lobster served in a charcoal roll and the fluffy and sweet pink and black scones, Vanier and his pastry team have somehow managed to encapsulate the sensual and floral elements of Carolina Herrera’s perfume into their afternoon tea menu. 

Of course, sumptuous afternoon teas are not the only impressive offering from The Langham Gold Coast. 

Their renowned Chuan Spa uses elements of traditional Chinese medicine to provide treatments that relax and revitalise visitors based on their unique needs. 

I left a 60-minute Harmony Massage feeling like I was walking on air. Not only is the experience deeply relaxing, but the therapists ensure it is also an opportunity to teach visitors about the five elements and the benefits of acupressure. 

Dinner at the award-winning T’ang Court does not disappoint either. Dry aged duck is the specialty at this fine-dining location, and the set menu explores the very best of authentic Cantonese flavours, accompanied by a carefully curated wine list. 

Also boasting rooms with an unparalleled ocean view, a swim-up bar, a state-of-the-art gym and other health and wellness offerings, it’s no wonder that so many of the rich and famous choose The Langham when travelling to the Gold Coast. 

But it’s also a credit to how The Langham has positioned itself nationally and globally. 

Jeffrey van Vorsselen, the regional vice president for operations for Pacific and Southeast Asia markets at Langham Hospitality Group, explains that their strong luxury brand partnerships with companies like Carolina Herrera have been integral in the continuing success of their hotels. 

Langham hotels in Australia have worked with the likes of Cartier, Bulgari, Ralph Lauren – and, of course, Carolina Herrera – on various brand partnerships and activations, often in the form of an exclusively designed Langham afternoon tea. 

“What it does is it gives us another way of speaking to our customers, but also to customers that perhaps don’t know us,” van Vorsselen says. 

Langham hotels will use these special events as a chance to go hard on their PR and marketing, and van Vorsselen explains that “People pay to come and enjoy these beautiful experiences, but really what they do is then they send it to all their friends through social media, and then it becomes a lifestyle.” 

The time and effort spent ensuring the afternoon tea looks as good as it tastes is important here, too – the pretty table settings and opulent photo walls can buy the hotel a ton of free advertising through their guest’s social media posts. 

Luxury brand partnerships are also a tool used to attract and keep their property management agreements – a way of showing the owners of the Langham hotel properties that the group is working hard to position the properties in the best way possible. 

For The Langham Gold Coast, these exclusive events are also part of their continuing mission to elevate the tourism options in the area. 

High-end visitors to the Gold Coast have remarkably slim pickings regarding luxury accommodation. Still, the few short years that The Langham has been operating there have shifted attitudes towards the area. 

John O’Shea, the General Manager at the Gold Coast location, tells me proudly that former Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk once declared that the Gold Coast had “reached a new level of sophistication” with the opening of The Langham. 

Exclusive events put on by the hotel, and especially its partnerships with other luxury brands, are instrumental in further inspiring high-end visitors to seek out sophistication on the Gold Coast. 

It also gives locals somewhere to go for dinner, a drink, or afternoon tea on a special occasion or celebration. As O’Shea tells me, his central goal is to be “locally loved and internationally famous.” 

At the Carolina Herrera x Langham afternoon tea, it would seem O’Shea’s mission is proving a raging success. 

Mingling with the other guests, I am introduced to Kate Barr from Experience Gold Coast. 

She can’t help but gush about the hotel like everyone else I’ve talked to. “The fairy dust The Langham has brought to the Gold Coast” is “a game changer”, Barr tells me. 

And heady from the champagne, the indulgent finger food, and the beauty of the whole event, I am inclined to believe her. 

The Langham x Carolina Herrera afternoon tea is running until the 2nd of June. 

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