Desert Gardens Uluru
Desert Gardens is part of the Ayers Rock Resort complex at Yulara, just outside Uluru national park. The complex consists of a range of accommodation options from high end through to budget hotels and campgrounds. The surrounding bushland is classic Red Centre outback - red sand, short desert oaks and other arid plant life and big clear skies.
Desert Gardens offers 218 rooms and 24 of these offer views of the rock, with a handful of others offering partial views. There are two restaurants on site and a swimming pool. Desert Gardens recently completed its first major refurbishment in 15 years, opening up the restaurant space and updating decor.
The Ayers Rock Resort complex is a substantial site, with shuttle buses running all day between the various accommodations. The resort's town square offers a variety of shops, including a supermarket, local art, souvenirs and the resort's spa. Free presentations on topics such as local flora and fauna, traditional hunting techniques and bush tucker are held regularly.
The newly refurbished Desert Gardens rooms feature bright, light decor with white walls and light grey wood finish furnishings, with Indigenous art adorning the walls. There's a small table with two armchairs. There's no desk, but this isn't exactly a business traveller location. The room is spacious and the bed is a king. The bathroom is also large with two sinks and a shower over the bath. Although the rooms have undergone a refurbishment the bathroom tiles seemingly have not - they are showing some signs of wear and tear. My particular room is one of those offering views of the rock, which can be enjoyed from the balcony or even the bed.
There are two dining options on site at Desert Gardens, but plenty more beyond the hotel itself. The all-day dining of Mangata Bistro & Bar offers a buffet breakfast, with a selection of light meals for lunch and dinner, often featuring local bush tucker ingredients. The Arnguli Grill & Restaurant specialises in steaks, with aged beef from around the country on offer, including wagyu fillet. The quality of the food here is excellent, considering how far we are from civilisation. Three road trains arrive from South Australia every week to ensure the resort is well stocked with quality produce.
While dining at the resort is fine, for a truly memorable experience, you should take up one of the outdoor dining options. There are now several available, but the most exclusive is Tali Wiru, a relatively new option with limited numbers (you should book well in advance - probably when you first book your holiday). The meal takes place on a hill overlooking the countryside, out to Uluru on one side and Kata Tjuta??? on the other. The food, which is cooked at an open-air kitchen on site, is outstanding and particularly impressive given the remote location. One of the resort's resident astronomers will stop by to give a star gazing talk, taking advantage of the clear skies with virtually no light pollution. See https://www.ayersrockresort.com.au/experiences/detail/tali-wiru
Desert Gardens is one of the nicest options available at Uluru, and it's a great place to come back to and rest after enjoying one of the sunrise activities or long walks available in the national park.
Rooms at Desert Gardens start from $400 per night. See ayersrockresort.com.au
The wide range of food options available, with top quality produce and presentation now a standard at many of the resort's restaurants.
The bathrooms could have done with a more substantial update.