SPB Emu Walk Apartments

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We arrived at the tiny Ayers Rock (AYQ) airport on time and were happy to get inside the terminal to wait in air conditioned comfort for our bags. There is only one terminal at AYQ with two gates (if I recall correctly) and one belt in baggage claim. No way to get lost here! We picked up our rental car and began the drive to the resort. It was my first effort at driving on the “wrong” side of the road and I was very happy that we were out in the middle of nowhere so I’d have plenty of notice of approaching vehicles and since we had a small SUV, we could even pull off the road entirely if needed. Fortunately I managed to keep it on the road in the correct lane for our time there.

When booking lodging in the Uluru area, there’s one company that handles all requests. The Ayers Rock Resort has lots of different types of lodging from the rustic Outback Pioneer Hotel to the luxurious Sails in the Desert. Since we were paying for this stay (albeit with a discount thanks to Barclays ArrivalPlus points) we chose the Emu Walk Apartments, which is a step or two down, luxury-wise, from the Sails in the Desert but definitely above the Outback Pioneer Lodge. We chose a two-bedroom unit which would give us room to spread out as well as a breakfast area. The second bedroom was supposed to have twin beds though in the end it did not. Fortunately the sofa was relatively comfortable as a third bed since we were only staying two nights.

Our travel dates were during the third week of October, so well into Springtime. Temperatures were very warm during our stay, in the mid-90sF/mid-30sC and our air conditioner managed to keep pace, though it ran very steadily during the day. At night the desert cools off quite a bit which helps keep things cool enough to sleep.

Our particular apartment was a split-level: there were no stairs to the front door and immediately upon entering the kitchen was to the right and the second bedroom to the left.
Just beyond that, the dining area was on the right and the bathroom was to the left. Down a set of 4-5 steps was the living area and the master bedroom to the left.

Dining table seats six

Dining table seats six

The master bedroom contained a king bed and the second bedroom has either a double or twins. As I mentioned above we’d asked for twins but got the double though we did not press the issue with the office staff. If all bedding is used this unit could sleep six though it would be tight quarters if both love seats were used.

King bed in the master bedroom

King bed in the master bedroom

The kitchen was an appropriate size for the unit and had a counter between it and the dining area. A stovetop and microwave were both provided. I seem to recall a coffee maker was also provided, but since none of us are coffee-drinkers, we didn’t use it. The clothes washer is under the kitchen counter and the dryer and mini-fridge are stacked in a closet opposite the washer. We made good use of the washer since we were now about a week into our trip and could use some clean clothes!

Galley kitchen had what we needed to cook a basic breakfast

Galley kitchen had what we needed to cook a basic breakfast

The stovetop shows a bit of wear but worked fine

The stovetop shows a bit of wear but worked fine

Washing machine is under the counter in the kitchen

Washing machine is under the counter in the kitchen

The clothes dryer is up above the fridge in the closet

The clothes dryer is up above the fridge in the closet

Mini-fridge in a closet

Mini-fridge in a closet

The bathroom was a good size for the apartment and had a nice large counter on either side of the sink. Toiletries were Wiru Indigenous Skincare brand, something that seems to be local to the area. No tub, just a shower stall that was a little on the small side, considering the size of the bathroom. It could have been another six inches or so wide without making anything else feel squeezed. Even more useful would have been some corner shelving in the stall. While there was a soap dish, there was nowhere to set shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and razors except on the floor of the stall.

Nice-sized counter with lots of towels

Nice-sized counter with lots of towels

The shower stall was a little tight and some shelving would have been nice but the water worked just fine

The shower stall was a little tight and some shelving would have been nice but the water worked just fine

Wiru brand toiletries

Wiru brand toiletries

The bedrooms and living area were carpeted while the rest of the unit had tile flooring – which actually felt good and cool on our feet after coming in from the heat of the day. The bedrooms each had a wardrobe and a low chest built against the wall opposite the bed. The second bedroom’s wardrobe had a safe in it. The master bedroom also had a bench at the foot of the bed which was a nice place to sit while putting on shoes, etc. since there wasn’t room for a chair.

Love seat in the living area with extra bedding. Dining area on the level above the love seat.

Love seat in the living area with extra bedding. Dining area on the level above the love seat.

Second love seat in the living area. Behind that wall is the master bedroom.

Second love seat in the living area. Behind that wall is the master bedroom.

The wi-fi was reasonably fast and there didn’t seem to be a limitation on the number of devices per room, thank goodness!

One nice thing about Emu Walk is that it is beside the town square which has the area’s grocery store. That made shopping very convenient as it was literally around the corner from us, as was a bank and the postal center. Of course there were also shops and restaurants in the plaza too. I believe all the lodging facilities have some restaurants and shopping on their premises but the Town Square has more.

One thing Emu Walk does not have is a pool but since all the accomodations in the area are part of Ayers Rock Resort, guests are allowed to use the pool at one of the other accomodations.

The resort provides transportation to and from the airport. If you’re planning to take several of the offered tours you may not need a car. There is a shuttle bus service that runs a route through the various areas of the resort. We chose to rent a car as we did not do any of the paid tours and enjoyed the freedom that gave us.  It also allowed us to get to the airport ahead of the resort’s bus.  In fact we actually arrived before the airport even opened!  Our flight out at 10:30 AM was the first one of the day and the airport does not open until 9 AM so we stood outside and chatted with a few other early birds until it did open.  But we were glad we arrived before the buses!

The resort does have its own gas station, hair salon and medical services. There is no pharmacy though the grocery store does have standard over-the-counter medications.

The Ayers Rock Resort is the only place to stay anywhere near Uluru and they have a wide selection of rooming types to meet just about any budget. Note that for the best rates, a minimum of two nights is required. We stayed two nights which gave us about 1.5 days to explore the area. To get the full experience consider staying three nights and taking some of the guided tours. Also, this third week of October is about as late in the year as I’d personally want to go, as I’m one not crazy about very hot weather.

And one thing I was totally unprepared for was the FLIES. As soon as it starts getting warm, the flies come out. Fortunately they don’t bite but they are extremely annoying. I’m told that they’re not nearly as bad in the winter, so if I visit again, I will definitely consider doing it then. More on the flies in the next installment – our visit to the big, red rock!

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Categories: Australia, Lodging Review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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