Following up on our experiences at the Voyages Ayers Rock Resort (also known as Ayers Rock Resort) in Yulara; here are 10 things we learned about Sails in the Desert during our 8-night stay there…
1) Complimentary Airport Transfer
Complimentary return coach transfers are provided from Ayers Rock Airport to any of the Ayers Rock Resort accommodation, meeting all scheduled flights. On arrival, after collecting your luggage, simply make your way outside the terminal and board the waiting AAT Kings coaches. The transfer takes about 10 minutes and bookings are not required. In addition, a free shuttle bus does clockwise loops of the resort daily; at intervals of approximately 20 minutes from 10:30am to 12:30am.
2) What? No Minibar In A 5-Star Hotel Room?
That’s right! The moment Kent and I opened our fridge after settling in at Sails in the Desert, we noticed that something was a little different… Plenty of room in this fridge and NO alcoholic beverages at all. Zip, Zero, Nothing – Just soft drinks. ‘What happened to the minibar?’ Yes, a big question mark. But don’t worry! If you feel like a gin and tonic, the nearest venue would be Walpa Lobby Bar which is right next to the foyer and reception. It has an extensive wine list. The Pira Pool Bar which is the outdoor poolside bar, also offers refreshing cocktails and light meals.
Other options are the nearby Gecko’s Café at the Resort Town Square, Mangata Bistro & Bar in Desert Gardens Hotel, and the Outback Pioneer Bar at Outback Pioneer Hotel & Lodge. During our visit to Yulara, Kent and I learned that the alcohol restrictions here were rather different from New South Wales. At the time of writing, I have been informed that there is no bottle shop at Ayers Rock Resort. To find out more, including how to (or not to) takeaway alcoholic beverages from the hotel restaurants, simply visit my previous post.
3) Spacious Rooms Decorated With Indigenous Artwork
We booked the Superior Room and it was spacious with natural tone décor throughout drapes, carpet, and furniture. The interior design is complemented by the local Anangu people’s artwork and decorative artifacts. Comfortable beds. A lovely lounge chair for reading and resting. A balcony that gave us an outback desert view was really a bonus.
We observed groups of galahs eating wattle seeds on the hillside and wild rabbits scampering about thanks to our balcony. Comfortable beds. Four bottles of water were delivered to our room which was a thoughtful gesture. But our sliding flyscreen door was not sliding smoothly though… I guess that’s what happens when you live in a sandy red desert!
4) Full Buffet Breakfast… Is It Good Value?
Ilkari restaurant opens daily for a full buffet breakfast. With a live cooking station at its heart, custom eggs and pancakes are just the beginning of your personalised international breakfast. Chinese dim sum and dumplings are among other cooked dishes like scrambled eggs, mushrooms, and sausages. Japanese sushi, ham; cheese, salads; fruits, bread; croissants, and yoghurt make up a colourful display of choices. Although freshly brewed coffee and tea are included, there’s an additional cost for barista coffees and specialty teas. Personally, I think that for $45 per adult full buffet breakfast, you’d expect cappuccino to be inclusive.
5) Most Things You Might Need Are In The Resort Town Square
Did you forget something when packing or need to re-supply during your outback overland adventure? The Resort Town Square is where you will find it all. There’s an IGA supermarket, a post office; clothing stores, gift shops; a hair salon, and a newsagency. Besides the usual newsagency stuff, the newsagency also supplies fly net hats, sunglasses, and bottle coolers. Banking? There’s an ANZ bank branch and the post office acts as an agent for Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, and Vodafone. Need to rent a car? The Tour & Information Centre can help you with that. You can book your tours or day trips through them too. It is about a 5 minutes walk from your Sails in the Desert hotel room to the Resort Town Square.
6) Casual Meal To Fine Dining… The Choice Is Yours
There are several choices for a casual meal within Sails in the Desert and nearby. My recommendations are: 1) Gecko’s Café at Resort Town Square: Nice pizzas. Reasonable price. 2) Walpa Lobby Bar in Sails in the Desert: Good light meal, especially if you feel like a glass of wine or a cocktail. 3) Mangata Bistro & Bar at Desert Gardens Hotel: I liked having lunch here for its sun-filled and spacious dining room. Feel like some Asian food? The Ayers Wok Noodle Bar at Resort Town Square offers Asian stir-fry noodles for takeaway only.
For fine dining lovers, you may want to check out Arnguli Grill & Restaurant at Desert Gardens Hotel. We had dinner there once, Kent and I enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere. For a luxurious bush tucker adventure, why not make a booking to Tali Wiru… Just be aware that it operates nightly from the first of April to the 15th of October and it is $380 per person, meal and wine. So, don’t forget to pack something lovely to wear, in case you feel like a fancy night out in the desert!
7) A Gallery, A Day Spa, And An Outdoor Pool
Mulgara Gallery offers a great selection of indigenous arts and crafts. It is located in the foyer of Sails in the Desert. For indulgence, simply book a treatment at the Red Ochre Spa; any receptionist can help you with your booking. Planning to dive into the outdoor pool to escape the heat? Well, make sure you have sun protection as the pool is not at all under the shade… Though there are lounges under the beautiful large gum trees on the miraculous green grassed central park.
8) No Poison Snakes Spotted, Plenty Of Wild Rabbits
Well, I wasn’t aware there was a ‘poison snake situation’ at Uluru-Kata Tjuta until I paid a visit to the Wintjiri Art & Museum while staying at Sails in the Desert. What I learned is that there are at least two types of poison snakes in this region – Liru (King Brown or Mulga Snake) and Panakura (Desert Death Adder), and they are both potentially very dangerous. If a Mulga bites it hangs on; injecting a large amount of toxic venom. The positive headline is, Ayers Rock Resort’s own landscapers and pest control people lookout for any threat during the snake season throughout the Resort area. Perhaps that explains why you don’t read about coming across venomous snakes at the Resort from travellers who have stayed here.
What we did see during our holiday was wild rabbits – lots of them! Apparently, the rabbits have been breeding out of control in Yulara and its surrounding areas including the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Unlike Europeans who treat rabbits as a delicacy, I did not see rabbits on the local menu… Perhaps that would be a way to reduce the overwhelming number… just a thought!
Room For Improvement
9) Slow Wi-Fi
If you don’t use the internet during your trip, then this won’t be an issue for you. As Kent and I work hard to bring you these photographs and stories; having fast Wi-Fi to send images to cloud storage has always been important. Free Wi-Fi, yes… but not such a bonus when it’s so slow.
10) Very Basic Toiletries… A Missed Opportunity
From the package to the quality of toiletries… everything was rather basic at Sails in the Desert. Why not invest in them by creating top-quality toiletry products which involve Australian native plants and herbs? It could be developed into an in-house brand! I’m sure plenty of travellers would love to purchase products like that as souvenirs or gifts. What a pity… It’s a missed opportunity if you ask me.
A Traveller’s Note
Besides Uluru and Kata Tjuta, both of which can be seen from the Resort’s Imalung Lookout. There are plenty of day tours to help you explore the wonders of Central Australia. As tourists, Kent and I signed up for some local tours. We especially enjoyed our Sounds of Silence food and stargazing journey and the Camel (Ride) to Sunset – one of the Uluru Camel Tours. A Night at Field of Light was an unforgettable experience too. We were amazed by the scale of this light field phenomenon!
Fancy a unique desert experience? Subscribing to the Resort’s website is a good way to receive updates regarding special events like Opera Gala at Uluru or the Camel Cup. While at Yulara, you will find all the information at Tour & Information Centre in the Resort Town Square, also in your hotel’s lobby. Simply book through the front desk.
We hope you find these tips useful before booking your stay at Sails in the Desert. Don’t forget to subscribe to White Caviar Life’s newsletter for more hotel reviews, travel tips, or simply virtual travel with us!