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“Glorified Motel -- Monopoly in Play here. Beware!” 2 of 5 bubbles
Review of Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort

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Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Yulara
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Glorified Motel -- Monopoly in Play here. Beware!”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 25, 2007

I am not particularly writing a detailed review of the hotel because I didn't feel it's anything to write about. I went here for Ululu (Ayers rock), not for Voyages hotel. Anyways, let me begin

1) Price
The published price for normal room is AUD$440/night. I booked it through wotif.com and paid $380. I tell you, this is the WORST cost-performance hotel you will EVER stay in the entire life. The prices they charge are outrageous, because it's in middle of nowhere and Voyages owns the whole resort. If you want to go see Ayers rock, you need to stay here. Hence the monopoly in play.

2) Room
Good news first. It's not dirty nor infested with insects as some others have mentioned. It's hygine, that's for sure. But don't expect even a Holiday-Inn-Express type of room. Desert Gardens is 1 of the 3 hoels in Voyage resort, compromising of Cheaper Lost Camel (newer), and more expensive Sails in the Dessert (newer). This hotel, is simply too AGED. You can see this in blanket they use, the wall paper, and just the complex rooms are housed it. I say it's "glorified motel" because it reminds you nothing but a country-motor-inn where you drive in, walk to the little shed next to the garden.

The room isn't bit or small. It's just average. Comes with 2 double bed unless you choose delux room which has a King bed. But either way, do yourself a favor, and do either
- if you want to save, go to Lost Camel
- if you want to spend extra AUD$50, go to Sails in the Dessert
Desert garden is like... just below par.

Oh and it doesn't have a bathtub.

3) Amenity and Ambience
You don't go to Ululu for hotel, you go for Ayer's rock. So don't expect a comfortable pampering spa here. In fact, it's very very touristy and nothing to write home about. The Swimming pool is outrageously small.

4) Dining
You can eat anywhere in Voyages, but avoid the restaurant within Desert Garden. They are just too 'cheap' atmosphere, except the price tag. You get yourself a much better meal at Winkiku which is the main dining for Sails in the Desert

5) Activity
I'm sure you've got your plan. But let me suggest one in particular. Join AAT King's Valley of the Wind tour with BBQ dinner in the dessert. This is a AUD$149 tour, but it's the best value for money in Ayer's rock. You get yourself BBQ dinner in the dessert under the sky, which is the same as Silence of the Night dinner. It's value for money.

6) Service/Housekeeping
Terrible. Even the motels can do better. They didn't come to service my room until 4pm. Of course, at that time, I was sleeping in the room with "Do not disturb", so they left me a note on the door asking to contact the reception by 4:30pm if I wanted a room serviced. HELLO??? Of course, the room was never servied. Apparently, this is recurring issue. Upon check-out, the couple in front of us also complained that their room was not serviced. So just be ware....


Conclusion
I know you would be tempted to go for "middle-ranking" hotel so you are thinking of Desert Gardens. But really, do yourself a favor and stick to either the best, or cheap (lost Camel). Either ones offer better value for money.

  • Liked — More hygine than I expected
  • Disliked — Zero Value, lack of room-making, feels like a motel
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank TedinHK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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2,402 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
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Melbourne
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 22, 2007

Stayed here for 3 nights for a trip to the red centre with family.

Rooms were reasonably comfortable but very hot even in the middle of winter, and the air conditioning seemed to be disabled.

Main problem was the poor quality of the dining options, buffets did little to cater for vegitarians and were highly overpriced for the quality of food. Geckos cafe in the main resort centre was a complete disgrace. Appauling service, cold food and lack of care from staff who were more interested in chatting amongst themselves rather than serving.

Overall a pleasant stay, just accept that if you want to stay here it's a completely captive market with all accomodation options owned by the same company so expect inflated prices and service that reflects the fact that there's not really anywhere else to go.

  • Liked — Proximity to Uluru
  • Disliked — Poor food options.
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank abr02
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Texas
Level Contributor
48 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 19, 2007

We stayed two nights at the Desert Gardens hotel in a deluxe room with a view of Uluru right out the window. Our room was quiet, clean, and the temperature was easily regulated. Although many people have complained about the cost of staying at the resort, I have to wonder how much it costs them to have hot running water, fresh produce, and a friendly cheerful staff on hand every day of the year. In my opinion, it was worth it. And if you're planning on going, spring for the deluxe room - the view is fantastic!

  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
1 Thank walruslady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney
Level Contributor
223 reviews
62 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 200 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 3, 2007

Once you get over the fact that staying ANYWHERE in the near proximity of Uluru/Kata_Tjuta is a monopoly provider proposition, and start breathing again at the news of the exorbitant prices, this is a terrific hotel.

We got upgraded to a deluxe room with a balcony from which we could watch the changing colours of that Big Red Rock.

The room is nothing spectacular - don't go expecting to wallow in a luxurious expanse of feather, down and gourmet chocolates. But why would you go here unless you were planning to spend most of your time OUT of your room exploring?

I have swum in all the pools at Yulara (yep, with sangfroid and a positive attitude the Sails In The Desert pool is a feasible proposition) and I reckon Desert Gardens' pool is a corker - lots of lawn and shade - more shade than Sails, much much prettier than the Lodge pool, and not surrounded by concrete like the Lost Camel's.

The gardens and landscaping around the Desert Gardens are exceptional.

Reception staff are friendly and have remembered their hospitality training well and looking keenly for their next positive performance appraisal, without being nauseatingly sycophantic (which REALLY turns me off in some hotels).

The Tour Desk is efficient and well organised and the comings and goings from the lobby with all the tour and shuttle bus departures works like clockwork.

The only thing I found aesthetically repugnant is th 1980s motel-quality bedspreads....so if that's your chief determinant of quality, you might have to have pe-emptive therapy.

And, be warned: it gets mighty cold in the desert at night in July: take your woolies.

  • Liked — Pool and gardens
  • Disliked — Bedspreads (but who cares!)
  • Stayed July 2004
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Arncliffegirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Crown Point, IN
Level Contributor
41 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed June 11, 2007

We stayed here for two nights during our three week visit to Australia. This hotel is great for sightseeing around Ayers Rock. We took several tours. The sunrise tour was a great way to see the Rock. We also did the Sounds of Silence dinner. This hotel is part of the Vovages Resort system which operates all the hotels at Ayers Rock. We also did a tour to Kings Canyon which we would not recommend because you spent so much time riding in the bus there and back.

  • Stayed May 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank Venus2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colchester, UK
Level Contributor
28 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 9, 2007

Our six week trip to Australia was self-planned so we had quite a bit of flexibility as to where to stay and for how long. Uluru was a ‘must see’ for us but the first thing that hits you when searching for local accommodation, via the internet, is the cost. ‘Voyages Hotels and Resorts’ have a total monopoly on accommodation in the Uluru area and the prices reflect this. Although different grades of accommodation are available at Ayers Rock Resort you really don’t have much choice but to bite the bullet. A room for three nights staying at the Desert Gardens, arriving 27th September, was the priciest stay of the whole trip. There are however ways of squeezing out extra value.

It was a pleasant, if unexpected, surprise on arrival at the check-in desk to find that we had been given a complementary upgrade to a deluxe room (no. 323). Things got even better when we found that it had a full on view of Uluru from the balcony. This definitely coloured our perception of the hotel and from then on we couldn’t find fault. Under other circumstances (i) the fact that the in-house movies didn’t work for the duration of the stay and (ii) the fly screen on the patio style balcony door kept falling down, would certainly have niggled. The upgrade may have been prompted by our complaints the previous night concerning the accommodation at King’s Canyon Resort - part of the same group.

The Ayers Rock Resort is a sprawling low-rise development in the desert and on the whole is very well done. It consists of a number of hotels that, in places, merge into each other. These aren’t hotels in the form of a single big building but rather consist of spread out blocks of units linked by walkways. The resort has a nice feel to it, but remember you’re paying for it! Before booking check on a map to see where your hotel lies in relation to the resort as a whole.

As you’d expect from the name, the walkways around the Desert Gardens have a garden feel to them. There’s a large and very good visitors centre, with static displays, next to the Desert Gardens reception. You’ll find plenty of info here and a desk where you can book trips with the various tour operators. As you take the short five minute stroll to the supermarket down various walkways you’ll find yourself passing through other hotels in the resort. As well as a fair sized supermarket you’ll find a Post Office, a photo shop, car hire desks, a restaurant and a number of souvenir shops clustered around a small square.

Our room was on the top floor of a small two-story unit with external steps and walkway. The room was very upmarket, clean and large with sliding patio doors leading onto a big balcony. I can’t comment on how the standard rooms compare with this but certainly there didn’t appear to be a large number of rooms in the Desert Gardens with a full on view of Uluru so you may be disappointed if you expect to get one. It was also very peaceful and quiet. The laundry was free too!

If you’re booking the hotel yourself then try using a low cost booking site. You can save a small amount this way by not booking direct with the resort. Special three night packages work out better value than one or two night stays. You may also find that the ‘Sounds of Silence’ dinner is thrown in for free as part of the package.

This dinner comes highly recommended and is quite costly when booked as a separate item so a package really is worth considering (there’s plenty of things to do that will occupy a three night stay). You’ll find more info concerning the dinner elsewhere but basically you find yourself dining out under the stars, sitting at restaurant tables laid out that evening on the desert sand. In our case the clouds obscured the stars, the wind got up and it started to rain! However that’s all part of the fun and the company of other guests made it all the more worthwhile. We thought the atmosphere might be a bit stuffy but everyone was very friendly. If the weather causes the dinner to be abandoned early then it shifts to a nearby hotel but we’d got past the point of no return!

All in all it was a fantastic stay at the Desert Gardens.

  • Liked — A great room with excellent views of Uluru
  • Disliked — The price
  • Stayed September 2006, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Krizz00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
southampton
Level Contributor
31 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 19, 2007

The negative aspects first - check-in was very poor we had to wait 2 hours for our room to be available despite arriving at 2.00pm and the reception staff could'nt of really cared less. As a previous reviewer stated you are constantly encouraged to drink plenty of water which is charged for at a premium on the resort site (in the scheme of things not a huge amount of money but the term profiteering comes to mind).

The positive aspects - accomodation was fine, comfy beds (two doubles) good bathroom, clean and very tidy. Resort is really not that big so walking around is not a problem, and if it is there is a resort bus. Restuartant food ok and plentiful and staff generally pleasant and helpful.

Sounds of Silence dinner was excellent, although gets a bit cold later in the evening so take a warm jumper/coat. Good food and good wine. Very enthusiastic, excellent, entertaining astrologer. The loos are something of an experience tho!!!!!

We sat and watched sunrise over Uluru from our balcony but with hindsight we felt this was a poor substitute for actually being out at the Rock and regret not making the effort to go out there.

2 days was enough and although it is a fascinating place and well worth a visit I would not rush back there on another visit to Australia.

  • Liked — Views
  • Disliked — check-in
  • Stayed March 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank traveller082
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort

Property: Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort
Address: Yulara Drive, Yulara, Northern Territory 0872, Australia
Location: Australia > Northern Territory > Red Centre > Yulara
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 4 Hotels in Yulara
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort 4.5*
Number of rooms: 218
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Voyages Desert Gardens Hotel is a superior hotel at Voyages Ayers Rock Resort. Magnificent ghost gums and flowering native shrubs are the setting for this hotel. Voyages Desert Gardens Hotel is centrally located to all resort and touring facilities and offers a range of accommodation, from shaded poolside rooms to deluxe rooms overlooking the desert.You can relax in the comfort of your own private balcony or courtyard, or unwind in the hotel's pool, sipping cocktails from the Bunya bar. It's only a short stroll to the Resort's numerous lookouts, where you can view what is arguably Australia's best sunset, with the spectacular play of colours across the face of Uluru and the surrounding desert. Once the sun has set, dine at Arnguli Grill and savour an a la carte flame grilled menu. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Hotel Yulara
Hotel Desert Gardens
Desert Gardens Hotel, Ayers Rock Resort Australia/Yulara

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