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Trip reprt: Longitude 131, overpriced luxury in the Australian Outback (Uluru)

Trip reprt: Longitude 131, overpriced luxury in the Australian Outback (Uluru)

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Old Dec 10, 14, 7:36 am
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Trip reprt: Longitude 131, overpriced luxury in the Australian Outback (Uluru)

Longitude 131°

Map| 1 Review | 0% Recommended

Longitude 131°

Yulara Dr Yulara NT, AU 0872

Trip reprt: Longitude 131°, overpriced luxury in the Australian Outback (Uluru) (6 Photos)

Longitude 131°

Last month, I stayed for 2 nights at the Longitude 131 Lodge in front of Uluru in the Australian Outback. I wanted to share my opinion with you. Would I recommend it? No! It is totally overpriced (we are talking 1000 AUD per night for person, with a 2-night minimum stay) .

PROS & THINGS THAT I LIKED:

- This is the only true luxury hotel near Uluru. There are a couple of hotels at the nearby Ayers Rock Village, but those have the look of a mediocre holiday camp. Compared to these Ayers Rock Village hotels, Longitude 131 is also the best located by a long way, just a few km from the famous rock in large grounds.
- The hotel is set in a spectacular location, with 360 degrees uninterrupted view of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), and the surrounding desert wilderness. This is the Australian Outback at its best.
- The hotel’s 15 luxury tented pavilions float over rust-red dunes. Each tent is named after a celebrated Australian explorer or wilderness pioneer, and the walls are adorned with relevant memorabilia (cuttings, letters, sketches, etc). All tents have comfy (king or twin) beds, Bose CD sound system with iPod dock, great working air-conditioning, and a complimentary soft-drink minibar. Ensuite bathrooms are small but functional.
- All tents enjoy a breathtaking view of Uluru through a private glass wall. This is the only place in the world where you can admire the inimitable postcard vista of Uluru without lifting your head from the pillow.
- The Dune House is the center of the resort, and represents a convivial meeting place for lounging, relaxing and swapping stories of desert discoveries with other guests. Beneath its canopy roof, you will find the Dune House Restaurant, as well as a library with a collection of books and historical literature. A comprehensive movie and game library is also available.
- Food is a highlight and – together with all beverages – included in the (insanely high) room rate. Breakfast begins early with freshly baked pastries, fruit and a la carte menu selection. Lunch is a three course menu. Dinner is a superb experience, and either served under the canopy of the Dune House or alfresco under a billion stars at Table 131.
- Every other night, guests are whisked off to a “secret” location to dine alfresco at ‘Table 131’, with a three-course meal followed by a talk about the vast desert starscape and the opportunity to gaze through strategically sited telescopes.
- The small, curvy pool in front of the Dune House is nice to cool off in the searing desert heat of the summer days.
- The staff is well-trained and service is excellent. Housekeeping tales place twice daily, including turn down service.
- The hotel operates complimentary transfers to/from Ayers Rock Airport.
- Excursions are included in the stay and guided by people with a real love and respect for the National Park, Uluru and the Anangu people. They include watching the sunset over Uluru, the Mala Walk & Kantju Gorge evening walk, and a sunrise walk into Kata-Tjuta (the Olgas). Canap are offered during most excursions.
- The packed picnic lunch on departure day is a very nice touch.
- The hotel is eco-friendly: showers are heated by solar power, and reverse heater-air conditioning units reduce energy wastage.
- Longitude 131 joined the Baillie Lodges collection in November 2013 (and is now a sister property of Capella Lodge and Southern Ocean Lodge) under an agreement with Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia. This may further rise the standards of the resort in the near future.

CONS & THINGS THAT I DID NOT LIKE:

While unique and enjoyable, Longitude 131 has one major problem: it is exuberantly overpriced. The management takes advantage of the lure of Uluru and the lack of luxury competitors in the area to charge insane rates. If Uluru is on your bucket list – and frankly, it should be – then “bite the bullet” and pay the price but be aware that you are not getting 1000 AUD per night per person (!!) worth of value, because of the following reasons:
- Excursions are done in group with the other Longitude 131 hotel guest (private tours are possible at extra cost). This may be fun for some, but are a put off for others. Table 131 is also a communal affair. Given the price tag, complimentary private tours – taking into account the wishes and abilities of the individual guests – would enhance the experience.
- Excursions do not always involve the most interesting or scenic places. For example, at the Olgas, the complimentary activity offered by the lodge is the Walpa Gorge Walk, a boring 2.6 km stroll into a gorge. However, the most scenic hike at the Olgas is the Valley of the Winds Walk, a 7 kilometre beauty that makes a loop to two spectacular lookout points, but this activity is only offered by the lodge at a very high extra cost.
- While well-appointed, the rooms are not large (40 sq meters) and not in the same league as many 5 star hotels or luxurious safari lodges.
- Bathrooms have no tub, only a shower. However, this makes sense from the perspective of being environmentally correct as well as the hot water being delivered via a solar heater placed on the roof.
- The pool is too tiny as well as uninviting from an aesthetical point of view. It has the looks of a cheap motel pool. The water is unheated: that’s great during the hot summer days but a dip during a winter visit is only for the brave ones.
- There is a fire pit next to the pool, but it was never used during our stay. It would have been great though if the staff would have fired that up for an after-dinner cocktail.
- All meals are served as ”nouvelle cuisine” and as such, food portions are rather small.
G- iven the early morning starts of the tours, guest are offered continental breakfast (good thing!), but unfortunately, from a very limited buffet. The cooked breakfast menu, when you do not participate to the tour, is far better.
- Unfortunately, the interior design of the Dune House does not reflect the quality of a true luxury lodge, and feels soulless and empty. It comes close to the ambiance of a caferia.
- Flies are an annoying problem during daylight hours in the Australian outback, especially in the warmer summer months (November to April): when you do not move for a second, a couple of flies are landing on you and/or buzzing around you. However, credits to the hotel as they provide a free insect hood to al guests. Don’t underestimate the impact the flies will have on your visit to Ayers Rock!
- There is no wildlife that one would associate with Australia to be seen at or nearby the lodge.
- There is no private viewing area to watch the famous Uluru sunset: there’s really only one area where everyone goes to view the sunrise and sunset, and so you are surrounded by hundreds of other tourist (yes, hundreds). Not exactly an intimate experience.
- The hotel accepts Visa, MasterCard, American Express but payment by credit card attracts a 2.5% surcharge (as, unfortunately, is the case with most hotels in Australia). Direct deposit is the only way to avoid this extra surcharge.
- Longitude 131 lacks an on-site spa. The hotel does provide transfers though to the far-from-luxurious Red Ochre Spa, which is located within Sails in the Desert Hotel, at the nearby Ayers Rock Resort.

This lodge is without doubt the best anywhere near Uluru. It has one of the most incredible locations imaginable and food is a highlight. But currently, it is way too expensive for the luxury experience offered. And unfortunately, there is no excuse for a product that costs 1000 AUD a night per person to be anything other than brilliant. The good news is that the accommodation is set to be renovated, with upgrading the pool and adding balconies to tents.

For those who want to see more images:
- I uploaded a lot more photos here:http://theluxurytravelexpert.com/201...longitude-131/
- I also made a Youtube clip:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GI1vxhRRols











Trip reprt: Longitude 131°, overpriced luxury in the Australian Outback (Uluru)

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Old Dec 10, 14, 9:12 pm
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I very much enjoyed the review and the photographs. Certainly different than most hotels reviewed here.
Thanks.
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Old Dec 11, 14, 12:57 am
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Very interesting hotel! Thanks
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Old Dec 11, 14, 6:05 am
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Thank you for the review. I've always wondered about this place.

I'm with you on the pool assessment. I've seen more inviting ones off I-95 (a US interstate...not known for nice hotels )

Can you speak at all to the quality of furnishings? They look a bit...IKEA? Maybe I'm wrong.
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Old Dec 11, 14, 2:32 pm
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About the only good thing that can be said about ANY accommodation at Ayers Rock village is that if bookings are low, they often run last minute specials. Other than that, as has been said many, many times but bears repeating: at all quality levels this entire place is kept a monopoly so it can be hugely overpriced.

If you must go, skip Longitude 131, book yourself in for one night, get a rental car (on which you'll also be ripped off with, among other things, mileage limits that make it impossible to see both Ayers Rock and the Olgas without paying an overage), see things in one day on your own schedule and then move on.

(I deleted a sentence here that started an off-topic discussion, I moderated myself in this case. Will now delete the off-topic discussion, it was not my intention to start such a discussion. RichardInSF)

Last edited by RichardInSF; Dec 11, 14 at 9:56 pm Reason: Deleted sentence
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Old Dec 11, 14, 3:31 pm
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Not value for money.

The whole "table 131" concept is enough to put me off completely.
I don't care to sit with a bunch of strangers at a dinner table at a set time,
and especially for US 1000 per person per night.
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Old Dec 12, 14, 1:06 am
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Originally Posted by Flyingfox View Post
Not value for money.

The whole "table 131" concept is enough to put me off completely.
I don't care to sit with a bunch of strangers at a dinner table at a set time,
and especially for US 1000 per person per night.
Can`t agree more! But if I would do Ayers Rock I don`t see a real alternative. Im not ready to stay in a Holiday Inn like hotel, even if I overpay "a few thousand" Dollars (not that Im angry with my Money). My wife for example likes to do Ningaloo Reef. Did anyone stay at Sal Salis so far? Great Location but the tents looks awful and its not really cheap. But do I have an alternative? Dont think so.
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Old Dec 13, 14, 6:27 am
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Thanks for the comprehensive review. The property sounds like there have already been some improvements under the Baillie family's watch. While you didn't like the communal table and perhaps found ther portions small, it sounds like you did like the food at least.

When considering the price, recognize of course the challenges running a high-end property in this location....non-trivial and certainly expensive. While none of the Baillie properties are inexpensive, when you factor in the normal hotel price for food and beverage - perhaps $200 per day per person, and the cost of the excursions....again, a few hundred per day...the "real" room rate comes down to $1,200 for two people per night. This compares to Sails, the next highest property there (in the main loop of hotels) which charges over $600 per night an is little more than a Holiday Inn. While not cheap by any means, the room price feels in-line to me.

When I visited, I rented a car which gave me the flexibility to go where I wanted when I wanted. The cost wasn't high...I'm very glad I did it. The reality of getting on a tour bus at an appointed hour does not appeal to me. I'd recommend the car for anyone visiting.

Thanks for posting all the photos.
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Old Dec 13, 14, 2:57 pm
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I visited Uluru and Longitude 131 five years ago and the OP's thoughts echo my own experience. Although I stayed at a less-expensive option a couple miles away (Sails in the Desert?), every concession in the area was managed by the same company. If you want to see Uluru, you have to sign on to ridiculously overpriced lodging, even at the campground. Because the prime experience is observing Uluru at dawn or dusk (yes, fairly spectacular), you basically have no other option than to overnight.

I did tour Longitude 131 and had lunch there -- it struck me as tasteful and pleasant enough, but nothing special as far as boutique hotels in the wilderness go. When I heard the nightly room rate, I was agape. It is extortionate.

As far as this being a remote location that is expensive to operate, that's true to an extent. But the airport is served by a couple Qantas jets daily, and there is highway access, so supplies can be trucked in. And it's a big operation -- there are hundreds of hotel rooms, not just this one resort. (My guess is that the biggest challenge is staffing, because the location might get old pretty quickly.)

I've stayed in several safari lodges on two trips to Africa that were priced upwards of $1000/night. A couple of these had no paved road access and some provisions had to be flown in by small plane landing on a dirt runway. The challenges of running one of these operations would be infinitely more difficult than those of Uluru. While accommodations were somewhat more rustic than the spin-and-span Longitude 131, these safari lodges were more interesting, unique, memorable, and personable, and the value for money seemed surprisingly fair.

See Uluru, but keep your lodging expenses to a minimum and spend the savings on a more worthwhile splurge elsewhere.
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Old Oct 6, 15, 7:52 pm
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Any updates on Longitude 131? When will the 'refurbishment' (pool, tents, new viewing area) be completed?

One comment- I asked about rental cars- there is a 'no parking policy' at L131. You cannot park there even as a guest Very odd. They suggested parking at the car rental agency and shuttling back and forth.
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Old Oct 6, 15, 8:31 pm
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Originally Posted by Exec_Plat View Post
Any updates on Longitude 131? When will the 'refurbishment' (pool, tents, new viewing area) be completed?

One comment- I asked about rental cars- there is a 'no parking policy' at L131. You cannot park there even as a guest Very odd. They suggested parking at the car rental agency and shuttling back and forth.
Just had clients there - loved it (and they'd just come off two other similar lodges, Southern Ocean being one of them).
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Old Jan 6, 19, 8:04 pm
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Has anyone been here in the past two years? Thinking about to trip down under, and husband wants to see Uluru.
Has anyone been to Sails, the next step down?

Last edited by LinLant; Jan 6, 19 at 8:13 pm Reason: to add comment regarding Sails
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Old Jan 7, 19, 1:26 am
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Originally Posted by LinLant View Post
Has anyone been here in the past two years? Thinking about to trip down under, and husband wants to see Uluru.
Has anyone been to Sails, the next step down?
We stayed at Sails for one evening in 2017, as I simply couldn't justify the price of Longitude 131. We were not impressed by Sails in the least and to say that it was egregiously overpriced is being too kind. What can you say......they have a captive audience and they are milking it to the maximum. The hard product rivals a Holiday Inn. Having said that, we don't regret one bit making the trip to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Just keep your expectations for the hotel in check.

Unlike some others in this forum, we were somewhat underwhelmed by Southern Ocean Lodge. A couple of Australian friends who visit the Ballie lodges with some regularity believe things have gone downhill considerably in the past few years. I don't know anyone who has stayed at Longitude 131 since the rebranding and refresh. For us at least, SOL didn't hold a candle to the sublime experience at Saffire Freycinet.
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Old Jan 7, 19, 10:12 am
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Originally Posted by jiaotze View Post
We stayed at Sails for one evening in 2017, as I simply couldn't justify the price of Longitude 131. We were not impressed by Sails in the least and to say that it was egregiously overpriced is being too kind. What can you say......they have a captive audience and they are milking it to the maximum. The hard product rivals a Holiday Inn. Having said that, we don't regret one bit making the trip to Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Just keep your expectations for the hotel in check.
Well stated. This captures my own feelings exactly. The hotel is now managed by Accor, and was at the time we were there. It is overpriced but it is not as breathtakingly overpriced as Longitude 131. Still, Uluru and the Olgas were so stunning it was worth it to be there. I don't regret our stay for a minute.
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Old Jan 7, 19, 10:23 am
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
Well stated. This captures my own feelings exactly. The hotel is now managed by Accor, and was at the time we were there. It is overpriced but it is not as breathtakingly overpriced as Longitude 131. Still, Uluru and the Olgas were so stunning it was worth it to be there. I don't regret our stay for a minute.
Interesting. My feeling about geological attractions in Australia (Uluru, Olgas, Blue Mountains, etc) is that they are about half as good as they are promoted to be. For active visitors, the upcoming climbing ban for Uluru will further reduce the reason to visit. The real good stuff, geologically speaking, is in New Zealand.
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