Surfers Paradise was originally a small, isolated town called Elston, located on the south side of the Nerang River. The nearest railway station was on the north side of the river at Southport. There was nothing to 'bridge' these two towns together.
The opening of the Jubilee Bridge in 1925 meant that visitors could finally access the South Coast from Southport to Surfers and right down to Burleigh Heads. The anticipated tourist boom gave James (Jim) Cavill the perfect opportunity to open a hotel. So on Thursday 26th November 1925, to coincide with the bridge opening and the 50th Anniversary of Southport, Jim opened what would become the famous Surfers Paradise Hotel.
Jim Cavill owned 25 acres of land along the white isolated beach, where on 4 of these acres, he erected his 16 bedroom timber hotel which featured private gardens and even a zoo. In 1933, Jim and many other town people, lobbied to change the name from Elston to the more enticing, Surfers Paradise. After a devastating fire destroyed the original hotel on 6th July 1936, there was much uncertainty whether 74 year old Jim would rebuild. After much deliberation the decision was to build, which meant great news for the community as it provided much needed jobs in the midst of the Great Depression. On 24th September 1937, a new brick and stucco hotel opened for business. This time the hotel presented sophisticated cabaret entertainment and accommodation featuring the celebrated honeymoon tower, which attracted visitors from interstate and overseas. The South Coast Town Council named the thoroughfare past the hotel in 1945 after the very successful entrepreneur Jim Cavill. This thoroughfare would evolve into one of the world's most popular beachside destinations, the world famous Cavill Avenue.
In the later years, The Surfers Paradise Hotel's reputation was based on its Beergarden, the Paradise Room (dining room and dance floor), tropical gardens, zoo and the famous 'Birdwatcher's Bar'. It was a seaside resort where everyone knew each other. The Birdwatchers Bar, which was situated right on the corner of Cavill Ave and the Gold Coast Highway, was hugely popular amongst the males, whom would line up along the glass windows and watch the girls in their bikinis go by on Cavill Ave.
Having lived such a successful and influentual life that changed the Gold Coast forever, Jim Cavill passed away on the 5th March 1952, aged 90. Years later in 1957, the hotel was sold Stanley Korman who decided to close the zoo.
On 13th September 1983, Surfers Paradise Hotel was demolished for the construction of the Paradise Centre. When the multi-storied hotel was rebuilt for the third time, the Birdwatchers Bar was kept but this time using one-way glass. On 4th November 1984, after nearly 60 years in its original position, the Surfers Paradise Hotel sold half of its venue including the famous 'Birdwatcher's Bar corner spot' to The Hard Rock Café. The remaining part of the venue (located on half of the original land) is still its current location today.
The Surfers Paradise Hotel was sold for the second time to MGW Hotels on 15th July 2002 as part of a $20 million dollar multiple venue purchase. MGW Hotels later merged with Australian Hospitality and Leisure Group (ALH Group), whom are still the current owners. Keeping in theme with its history and core values, the venue has just been refurbished to launch the hotel into its next generation. It's still the most iconic venue in Surfers Paradise.